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Recap / Buffy the Vampire Slayer S3E5 "Homecoming"

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"I thought, Homecoming Queen, I could open a yearbook someday and say, 'I was there, I went to high school and had friends and for just one minute I got to live in the world.' And there'd be proof. Proof I was chosen for something other than this. Besides, I look cute in a tiara."
Buffy Summers

Directed by David Greenwalt

Written by Greenwalt, Jane Espenson, & Douglas Petrie

This is the final Buffy episode penned by David Greenwalt, as he shifted his attention to preparing Angel for the following season. Aww. Bye, David! As a parting gift, he left us a catfight episode which makes Dynasty look like Little House on the Prairie.

The Scoobies decide to share a limo for their last Homecoming dance. Scott hasn't asked Buffy, but after some arm-twisting agrees to go. The next day, Scott breaks up with Buffy because he finds her too distracted all the time now, which she admits is true (for example, rehabilitating Angel in his mansion). She promises to do better, but Scott's fed up.

Buffy is bummed that her entire high school career will come down to one picture on 1/8th of a page, but Willow and Xander tell her that even that won't be there, since she missed getting her picture taken for the Yearbook. They tell her that Cordelia was supposed to give her the message. Buffy confronts Cordy, who couldn't care less, because it's not about herself. That does it. An enraged Buffy decides to run for Homecoming Queen against Cordy. Meanwhile, Mr. Trick has organized SlayerFest '98, a competition in which its participants (for a modest fee) get to hunt the two slayers, and the winner takes all the money. The competitors are a demon who can create bone blades from his forearms, a human hunter, two German brothers working with an older man in a wheelchair, and Lyle Gorch (from "Bad Eggs") along his bride Candy.

When the limo arrives at Buffy's house, she gets in to discover not Faith, who was scheduled to be the first to be picked up, but rather Cordelia alone, holding a note from their friends saying that they want her and Cordelia to make up on the expensive ride, so they will be forced to spend some time alone together. When the driver stops at their destination, they are surprised to discover not Sunnydale High, but a shack and some woods. The pair fight off their adversaries and run to the school. Meanwhile, Trick is dragged away from his monitor room by two policemen.

Buffy and Cordelia make their way to the library, only to find Giles knocked out and the Gorchs waiting for them. During the fight, Candy is dusted thanks to a spatula that Cordelia acquired. Lyle is infuriated and is ready to kill the two, but Cordelia finally asserts herself and scares Lyle away when the chips are down. Buffy realizes the corsages they got in the limo were electronic tracking devices. She puts them on the German brothers, who target and kill each other with their high-tech equipment, each thinking they're targeting one of the Slayers.

The policemen bring Mr. Trick to the office of Mayor Wilkins, who tells Trick that he needs to control rebellious youth elements during this election year. Mr. Trick, knowing the Mayor means business, agrees to join his administration.

A bedraggled Buffy and Cordelia arrive at the Homecoming dance just in time for the announcement of Homecoming Queen— but it turns out the tie was between two other competitors. Buffy and Cordelia, united in their disgust, walk out.


  • Actor Allusion: During one of their many many spats Cordelia mentions The Burger King commercials Sarah Michelle Gellar did when she was young.
  • A-Team Firing: Buffy grabs a pair of antlers off the wall and starts sparring with Kulak as Cordy hilariously whacks away with the spatula. Buffy barks at Cordy to grab the gun. She does, but her aim is atrocious, and she can't handle the kick from it either. Buffy changes her mind.
  • All Elections Are Serious Business: Buffy and Cordelia's spats over homecoming get simply caustic. And Mr. Trick asks the Mayor if he's being recruited because is election year.
  • All for Nothing: After surviving the ordeal, neither Buffy, nor Cordelia wins the Homecoming Queen. Their faces say it all.
  • All Your Base Are Belong to Us/We Have Your Watcher: Buffy plans to escape to the library with Cordelia and assemble some weapons. Unfortunately, Lyle Gorch already has the book cage open and has found the weapons stash. Pan down to Giles, lying facedown on the floor (i.e. his natural habitat).
  • Anguished Declaration of Love: While trapped in the shack, Cordelia says that if she dies she'll never find out if her love for Xander is the real thing. Buffy is somewhat surprised; "Do you really love Xander?" Cordelia replies, "He grows on you. Like a chia pet."
  • Author Appeal: Willow's "I'm a rabid dog who should be shot!" line comes from an offhand jest commonly attributed to David Greenwalt about actors in general.
  • Badass Boast: Gorch comes to his wife's rescue — just in time to see the spatula handle firmly imbedded in her heart. Gorch cries, "Candy!" but she's dust. He roars that he's about to kill both Buffy and Cordelia, but Cordy — aware that he's mistaken her for Faith — gets in his face, giving him a speech that amounts to "Do you feel lucky, punk?" She manages to bluff well enough that even Gorch thinks better of taking her on.
    Cordelia: See, in the end, Buffy's just the runner-up; I'm the Queen. You get me mad, what do you think I'm gonna do to you?
    Gorch [beat] Later.
  • Bait-and-Switch: The tie... which turns out not to be Buffy and Cordelia sharing the Homecoming Queen crown and engaging in a Golden Moment, but rather the other two contestants.
  • Bait-and-Switch Comment:
    • The Locked in a Room ploy appears to have forced Buffy and Cordelia to discuss their rivalry, but it turns out they're still griping over the corsages.
    • "We are gonna get out of here, and we are gonna head back to the library, where Giles and the rest of the weapons live. Then I'm gonna take out the rest of these guys just in time for congratulate me on my sweeping victory as Homecoming Queen."
  • Bear Trap: Buffy, at a warning from Cordy, narrowly avoids getting her foot caught in a bear trap laid by Frawley (the poacher). He moves to shoot them, but Buffy throws the trap at him, causing him to lose his balance and step into another trap.
  • Big Bad: Meet Richard Wilkins, Mayor of Sunnydale. Actually, that explains a lot.
  • The Big Board: Buffy gives a Patton speech to the Scoobies wherein she says that the Homecoming crown will be "won or lost in the trenches." We see that she's standing in front of a huge whiteboard on which she's listed the strengths and weaknesses of the other three candidates, which include "wears polyester", "dandruff", "bad skin" and "too much make-up.".
  • Bounty Hunter: Each of Trick's contestants puts up an entry fee to enter the game. The winner gets the whole stash.
  • Blade Below the Shoulder: Kulak's forearms produce bone blades which he employs as throwing weapons.
  • Bland-Name Product: Buffy's "APPLE" brand juice.
  • Bribing Your Way to Victory: Buffy's list of Cordelia's strengths includes, "Has Money To Buy Votes."
    Cordelia: Buffy! You look so cute in that outfit.
    Buffy: I'm not voting for you.
    Cordelia: [curtly] Then make it snappy.
  • Buffy Speak
    • Cordy and Willow want to order a limo for the dance. Xander's worried about the cost. "You wanna talk fun? Public bus. You meet the funnest people."
    • Xander and Willow rationalizing their sudden kiss as being the fault of the formal wear. "It's a clothes fluke, that's what it is! And there'll be no more fluking!"
  • Carnival of Killers: Mr. Trick's idea to get rid of the Slayers.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Backstage at SlayerFest, Frawley is testing a bear trap. He sticks a mannequin leg into it, and the jaws instantly snap shut, shattering the leg.
    • Buffy and Cordelia's corsages.
    • Once inside the shack, Buffy begins running around and closing the window shutters. Those will be useful in a minute, though not in the way that she intended.
    • The spatula of doom.
  • Comically Small Bribe: Buffy tries to get Jonathan's vote, but he replies that Cordelia gave him six bucks. Maybe if she saved his life he'd vote for her.
  • Continuity Nod: Buffy concedes that she's not popular. But she's not exactly unpopular!
    Buffy: A lot of people came to my Welcome Home party.
    Willow: But they were eaten by zombies.
    • Mrs. Gorch says she wants to kill Buffy as a "wedding present for what happened to your poor brother." (in "Bad Eggs")
    • Buffy is still looking for a faculty member to approve her reentry to Sunnydale High, a condition Principal Snyder set down in "Faith, Hope and Trick". No mention is made of this in later episodes, however.
    • When Buffy mentions Giles, Angel looks guilty, what with killing Giles' girlfriend in "Passion" and torturing him for information in "Becoming".
  • Conversation Cut
    Willow: This is just...
    (Cut to Willow's room later that afternoon. She paces behind Xander.)
    Willow: ...the worst thing that's ever happened. Ever!
    • Twisted Echo Cut also applies, as they're talking about their mutual infidelity, not the Buffy/Cordy spat. Ironically the conversation shifts to the spat after all.
  • Creepy Twins: The Gruenstalher Twins.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Slayer!Cordy
  • Cut His Heart Out with a Spoon: Lampshaded by Cordelia while she's in the midst of ruining all of Gorch's ultimatums.
    Lyle: [furious] I'm gonna—!!
    Cordelia: Rip out my innards, play with my eyeballs, boil my brain and eat it for brunch?
  • Cut Phone Lines: Buffy tries to phone Giles from the shack, but the Old Man zeroes in on her call.
  • Cute Clumsy Girl: To gather more votes, Buffy cunningly adopts this persona ('accidentally' dropping a folder in front of boys) to chat them up.
  • Damned by Faint Praise: Buffy concedes that she's not popular. But she's not exactly unpopular!
    Buffy: A lot of people came to my Welcome Home party.
    Willow: But they were eaten by zombies.
  • Dance of Romance/I Can't Dance: Xander teaching Willow how to slow dance.
  • Dark Horse Victory: Buffy and Cordelia dismiss Holly and Michelle as major Homecoming Queen contenders, and the two have perhaps a minute of combined screen time in their episode. However, when two girls tie for the Homecoming Queen Crown, they're Holly and Michelle, and not Buffy and Cordelia.
  • Death by Irony/Friend or Foe?: As the Gruenstahlers approach the library, the Old Man tracks the girls' movements. Buffy rises from a hiding spot in the corner. She throws a wad of wet toilet paper with the transmitters onto his back, where it sticks. The Old Man gives them new coordinates. The twin in the hall starts firing, and the one in the classroom returns the favor. They both riddle each other with bullets.
  • Department of Redundancy Department: Buffy accosting the traitorous Willow, who's jumpier than usual. "Hi! How are you? You good? You look good. Anything new? Hey, did I mention you look good?"
    • Cordelia denouncing the bounty hunters. "Those animals! Hunting us down like poor defenseless— well, animals!"
  • Description Cut: Buffy breaks the news to Angel that she's seeing someone. "He's a nice, solid guy. He makes me happy. And that's what I need right now. Someone I can count on." I smell irony coming. We cut to Scott: "I don't think we should see each other anymore."
    • Xander glumly noting that Buffy and Cordy have been gone for a while. "They must really be getting into it." Cut to the girls barricading themselves inside a run-down shack.
  • Doomed New Clothes: With Homecoming nearly over and Buffy and Cordelia nowhere in sight, Xander asks "what's keeping them?" The pair finally emerge, covered in bruises and their dresses ruined.
    Oz: I'm gonna go with mud wrestling.
  • Double Entendre / Girl on Girl Is Hot: When asked where Buffy is, Xander reports she and Faith are in the library "gettin' all sweateh." They're training, Cordy corrects him.
    Xander: "I stand by my phrase."
  • Dramatic Gun Cock: Buffy with Frawley's pump-action rifle (twice — no wonder she ran out of bullets).
  • Dramatic Irony: Buffy seems to have a renewed respect for Cordy by the end of the episode. "Tell you one thing, though. You don't want to mess with Cordelia." Xander laughs nervously as he pictures Cordy wearing his balls for earrings.
    • Buffy's favorite teacher has a class on "Contemporary American Heroes". She can't even remember Buffy's name.
    • Mr. Trick organizes SlayerFest 98 because competition is a beautiful thing that makes people strive and try to win. The competitors are trounced by the Teeth-Clenched Teamwork of Buffy and Cordelia, because they keep falling into each others traps or actively working against each other. An Aesop?
  • Eerily Out-of-Place Object: The television set in the middle of the woods. As soon as Buffy and Cordelia see it, it immediately tips the off that something is dreadfully wrong. Then they decide to play the tape...
  • Establishing Character Moment: A female voice tells the Deputy Mayor, Allan, that the Mayor will see him now, and with all the build-up the audience is probably expecting Hannibal Lecter. Instead, what we get is closer to Burl Ives; nevertheless, Allan is practically wetting his pants in Wilkins' presence. Wilkins is also really gabby about cleanliness and germs.
  • Et Tu, Brute?: Played for Laughs when a smug Buffy aligns the Scoobies against Cordelia, only for all three to defect to Cordy's camp in an instant.
    Xander: She's my girlfriend. [leaves]
    Willow It's just that she needs it so much more than you do! [follows Xander]
    Oz: As Willow goes, so goes my nation. [follows Willow]
  • Evil Brit / Evil Cripple / Evil Old Folks: The Old Man runs the gamut.
  • Eviler than Thou: Just as SlayerFest is heating up, Trick is dragged out of his lair by policemen. The cops bring Trick to the office of Mayor Wilkins, who tells Trick that he needs to control "rebellious" elements during this important year.
  • Failed a Spot Check: Cordelia has been raiding the shack for weapons, but all she's found is a spatula. And a telephone, but Cordy ditzes that a spatula would make a much better weapon. Buffy gives her a "get a clue, you dolt" look.
  • Fantastic Racism: Invoked by Mr Trick.
    Trick: If this is the part where you tell me that I don't fit in here in your quiet little neighborhood, you can just skip it 'cause, see, that all got old long before I became a vampire. Do you know what I'm saying?
  • Foreshadowing:
    • On the subject of clean nails, Wilkins reminisces, "My dear mother said cleanliness is next to godliness, and I believed her. She never caught a cold." Wise words, which - if you've seen the entire season - Wilkins seem to have took a bit too literally.
    • The officers show Mr. Trick into the Mayor's office. The Mayor makes it clear that he knows all about Mr. Trick, SlayerFest, and so on. He tells Mr. Trick that he likes things to run smoothly, and that it's an important year for him. "Election year?" quips Mr. Trick. The Mayor: "Something like that."
    • For "Band Candy" and "Graduation Day". The Mayor says, "The children are our future. We need them. I need them."
    • The Mayor telling Finch, "You have all my faith."
    • Buffy finally gets her perfect high-school moment in "The Prom".
  • Food as Bribe: Buffy and Cordelia are shamelessly pandering for votes for the Homecoming Queen. Rival contestant Holly offers a cookie only for Buffy to barge in front of her and hand out large cupcakes. Cordelia then appears handing out baskets of chocolates, taking the cupcakes and throwing them in the trash.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: Buffy's whiteboard lists the competition's strengths and weaknesses. One of Cordy's weaknesses is "BRIE." Another is "XANDER."
  • Full-Name Ultimatum: Used teasingly by Willow when Xander asks her how far she and Oz have gotten.
  • Fur and Loathing: Frawley. And Lyle Gorch's wife, Candy, wears a pink fur trim.
  • A Glass in the Hand: When the other Scoobies abandon her for Cordelia's campaign Buffy insists to Giles that it's still just fun and nothing serious...and then grips her glass water bottle so hard it shatters.
  • Glory Days: Invoked by Cordelia, who questions whether Buffy's need to relive her past gives her the right to "splinter [Cordy's] vote."
  • Grenade Launcher: The twins fire a grenade at the shack, which only manages to blow Kulak to bits.
  • Grenade Tag: Played with in the case of the toilet paper.
  • Hands-On Approach: Willow worries about her dancing ability, so Xander proceeds to take her hands, ballroom-style. It's now a foregone conclusion that they'll kiss, which they do. They then jerk away and start spazzing out, agreeing that the kiss was a "clothes fluke," right before almost kissing again. Xander says they have to get out of their clothes. Realizing the innuendo, they spaz yet again and run away from each other.
  • Hates Being Touched: Cordelia tries to shove past Buffy, who coldly tells her never to do that again.
  • Hard-Work Montage/Lock-and-Load Montage: As Fastball's "Fire Escape" plays in the background, we see Buffy and Cordelia getting out the vote as Mr. Trick's contestants assemble their weapons.
  • Heart in the Wrong Place: By far the worst example of this in the entire series, apparently Candy Gorch's heart is in her stomach.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard:
    • Buffy, moments after hurling Frawley's trap back at him, threatens him with his own rifle. Frawley then gets trapped by his own bear trap.
    • Later, she turns the Germans' tech against them, getting them to shoot each other.
  • Homoerotic Subtext: After being dumped by her boyfriend, Buffy gets sweaty with Faith, and then accepts her invitation to go to the dance in his stead.
  • Hunting the Most Dangerous Game: SlayerFest '98! And in the Buffyverse, there is no game more dangerous than a Slayer. They all get killed, either by each other or by Buffy, and it's frankly astonishing that they expected anything else to happen. This seems even dumber when one considers that Faith was supposed to be there as well, but Cordelia ended up there instead. So instead of two Slayers, they were facing one Slayer preoccupied with looking after a normal, basically noncombatant human - and they still all died.
  • Hypocrisy Nod: Cordy checking out her "competition" for Homecoming Queen. There's Holly ("Nice girl, brain-dead. Doesn't have a prayer.") and Michelle. ("Open to all mankind, especially those with a letterman's jacket and a car.") She turns worriedly to Xander: "She could give me a run."
  • Hypocritical Humor: As the Scoobies follow Cordy out of the library, Giles emerges to comment on what a fuss everyone's making of this. Buffy grins a toothy smile and assures him "it's not like anyone takes it that seriously." Right before she crushes a glass bottle in her hand.
    • Buffy and Cordy's final lines of the episode.
    Cordelia: After all that we've been through tonight, this whole who-gets-to-be-queen-'capade seems pretty—
    Cordelia: Oh yeah.
  • I Am X, Son of Y: I am Kulak, of the Miquot Clan!
    Mr. Trick: Isn't that nice.
  • Improvised Weapon: The spatula finally comes in handy when Candy lunges at Buffy. Cordelia cluelessly tosses her the spatula, which Buffy uses to impale Candy through the heart (the handle was made of wood).
    • Buffy playing matador with a pair of deer antlers.
    • Wet toilet paper.
  • Incredibly Obvious Bug / Tracking Device: Later that evening, Giles is awake again. Buffy apologizes for dragging Cordelia into this whole ordeal. Cordy takes solace in that fact that they at least got free corsages. Giles says they weren't included with the limo. Uh oh. Buffy quickly realizes that the Gruenstahlers are tacking them through the corsages.
  • Inherently Funny Words: Spatula.
  • Ironic Echo: Buffy starts to give campaigning assignments to the Scoobies when (Speak of the Devil) Cordelia strides in. Buffy notes the awkwardness of the situation but, since they're all driving to the dance together, says they should try to get along. Cordy snaps her fingers and summons Xander, Willow, and Oz to her side, and they meekly obey. Cordelia folds her arms in triumph as Buffy seethes. "I think we're getting along great, don't you?"
  • It's a Long Story: The Scoobies express horror when Buffy and Cordelia return from their 'intervention'. "Oh, God! What did you two do to each other?!"
    Buffy: Long story.
    Cordelia: Got hunted.
    Buffy: Apparently not that long.
  • Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique: Buffy holds the gun on Frawley and quickly extracts information from him on who the other players in the game are.
  • Ladies and Germs: "Ladies, gentlemen, spiny-headed-lookin' creatures..."
  • Lame Comeback: Cordelia is campaigning to be May Queen:
    Cordelia: Here's a chocolate...(snatches chocolate away from Buffy) Oh. I don't think I need the loony-fringe vote. (walks off)
    Buffy: Well, I-I don't even like chocolates! (beat) Okay, that was the lamest comeback of our time.
  • Lame Pun Reaction: Buffy, waving a pointer stick her rival's pictures, warns her captive audience (the Scoobies) that all three have a big head start. And speaking of big heads, "if I had a watermelon as big as Cordelia's, I'd be rich! [The Scoobies stare blankly] ...Waits for laugh."
  • Last-Second Word Swap: Willow thinks a limo would be fun, and that they could all split the cost. Buffy's not sure if she's going. "Why wouldn't you go?", blurts Willow, "You already have your tickets! I mean, unless you don't have a da" — Scott enters the frame — "ay or two to think about it."
  • The Last of These Is Not Like the Others: Back to the shack, the girls snit at each other until, finally, Cordy asks why she cares so much about being Homecoming Queen. What follows is a moving soliloquy by Buffy about she spent a year's allowance on the dress in an attempt to achieve one ideal moment in high school. She ends the speech by saying, "Besides, I look cute in a tiara."
  • Law of Chromatic Superiority: Buffy wears a red evening gown, while Cordelia is wearing green. Guess who's more useful in a fight?
  • Life-or-Limb Decision: Kulak comes across Frawley, still struggling in the bear trap, and offers to cut off his leg. Bob declines.
  • Locked in a Room: Buffy gets into the limo and finds only Cordelia sitting inside. When Buffy asks where Faith is, Cordy merely hands her a letter. It's from their friends, saying that they're not riding with them because their group dynamic is more important than who wins Homecoming Queen. It ends with, "The limo was not cheap — work it out." Things aren't off to a good start, as Buffy notices there's two corsages, and Cordy snits, "I took the orchid."
  • Lonely Piano Piece: Scott dumping Buffy in the middle of the hallway and then walking off, leaving her flapping in the wind.
  • Made from Real Girl Scouts: Giles complaining that the finger food tastes as if it "contains actual fingers."
  • Manipulative Bitch: Buffy playing on Willow's guilt (and all those times she's saved her life) to get access to Cordelia's database.
  • Mercy Lead: The limo stops, and Buffy and Cordelia find themselves stranded in the woods. A TV and VCR are set up nearby, with a sign that says, "Press Play." Well, why not? Mr. Trick appears on the screen, welcoming Buffy and "Faith" to SlayerFest '98. He explains that they have "exactly 30 seconds—[checks his watch] no, that's 17 now—to run for your lives."
  • Metaphorgotten: Willow expressing her guilt about kissing Xander.
    Willow: We were so guilty about "the fluke" that we overcompensated helping Cordelia and spun the group dynamic out of orbit. Now we're just this meteor shower headed for Earth...!
  • Minor Flaw, Major Breakup: Scott explains that before they were going out, Buffy seemed "so full of life" but that now she just seems distracted all the time. Buffy promises a "drastic distraction reduction," but Scott isn't having it. Relationship over.
  • Mission Control: The old man communicates to the twins via earpiece.
  • Mistaken Identity: Trick hasn't gotten a positive ID on Faith yet, seeing as she's "elusive." Everyone simply assumes that the brunette riding in the limo with Buffy is the genuine article because the limo was originally supposed to pick Faith and Buffy first.
  • Moment Killer: Faith noticing Scott — newly single and ready to mingle — dancing with some new girl. She saunters up to the couple and coos, "Scott? There you are, honey! Good news — the doctor says the itching and the swelling and the burning should clear up, but we gotta keep using the ointment." She turns to his date and says, "Hi!" with a bright smile. Then she walks away.
  • More Dakka: Hans and Frederick prowling the school with Night-Vision Goggles and M16-A1s.
  • No Name Given: The old gentleman in the wheelchair is credited as just that — Old Man. (In the original script, he is listed as "Boss")
  • Not Cheating Unless You Get Caught: Buffy pasting one of her campaign posters over Cordelia's.
  • Not My Driver: The limo driver is none other than one of the Gruenstahlers. Whoops.
  • An Offer You Can't Refuse: The Mayor doesn't make any threats but Trick is smart enough not to need them; he's working for the Mayor now.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • Kulak landing back beside the grenade. BOOM.
    • Buffy and Cordelia realizing that they're wearing tracking devices on their wrists.
  • Ominous Multiple Screens / Spies In a Van: Buffy just watches Scott walk away sadly go as the camera pulls back from her. Cut to a view of her through a pair of binoculars. The watchers are in a van with dark-tinted windows that contains a lot of high-tech surveillance equipment.
  • Oral Fixation: Mr. Trick sucks on a lollipop.
  • Outlaw Couple: Trick points out that Lyle and Cindy Gorch haven't coughed up their contribution yet. They empty a bag of blood-stained money onto the table.
  • Outrun the Fireball: Buffy and Cordelia running like mad as the shack explodes into a fireball.
  • Pass the Popcorn: Mr. Trick has a brass dish of popcorn during SlayerFest
  • Percussive Therapy: After being dumped by Scott Hope, Buffy is shown making Faith wince by pounding on the training pads she's holding, leading her to suggest that Buffy would make a better Slayer if she got dumped more often.
  • Petthe Dog: Kulak seems like he's genuinely trying to be helpful when he offers to cut Frawley out of his trap. Frawley, preferring to keep his leg, politely declines.
  • Picture Day: The Scoobies' Yearbook photographs. Cordelia puts on her best rictus grin; Xander smarms; Oz is characteristically deadpan. Willow initially has a winning smile but switches to a confused expression when the photographer takes too long—this is the face he captures.
  • Playing Both Sides: Gorch, having familiarized himself with the school's layout ("Bad Eggs"), opts to lie in wait while the Slayers thin out his competition.
  • Rage Breaking Point: Buffy, upon learning that Cordy was supposed to tell her about picture day, but forgot, marches over to her and proceeds to rain down fiery brimstone. Their spat escalates until Buffy vows to steal the Homecoming crown.
  • Rock Bottom: Buffy complaining that all she'll have to remember from high school is being a "crappy picture on one-eighth of a crappy page." Actually, Xander and Oz nervously point out, she's not even that; Buffy missed picture day.
  • Second Prize: Subverted for comic effect in. Cordelia and Buffy compete for the title of Homecoming Queen. As expected, the two descend into vicious (albeit hilarious) rivalry, find themselves in danger, pull together, etc. The writers save the high school cliché through outright parody: CORDELIA: "You know, after everything we've been through, this whole question of who gets to be homecoming queen seems..." BUFFY: "Pretty damn important!" CORDELIA: "Right!" In the end, Sunnydale High awards the prize equally to two people in its first-ever tie. Luckily for us viewers, those two people aren't Buffy and Cordelia, but the two other girls who were competing against them. Buffy and Cordelia leave the auditorium in disgust.
  • Secret-Keeper: When Buffy drops by the mansion to see how Angel's feeling, she reveals that she's been keeping mum about his reappearance to Giles and the others.
  • Self-Parody: The Scoobies are lingering at the dance, blissfully unaware that Buffy and Cordy have been kidnapped. Suddenly, Giles rushes up behind them. "We have to find Buffy. Something terrible's happened." Just kidding! He chuckles and then heads off to grab some finger sandwiches.
  • Serious Business: Buffy and Cordy are all in on being Homecoming Queen.
  • Sex for Solace: Faith suggests she help Buffy get over Scott by finding a couple of studs they can use and discard. Buffy is not entirely averse to the idea.
  • "Shaggy Dog" Story: The winner of Homecoming Queen is a tie between the two candidates who aren't Buffy and Cordelia.
  • She Cleans Up Nicely: In the clothes-changing scene, Willow and Xander are equally stunned by the other's appearance.
    • Not to mention Faith, who's almost unrecognisable with her hair up and minus her trademark leather pants.
  • Shout-Out: There's a geek in-joke in Cordelia stating she knows the "Vulcan Death Grip" (confusing it with the Vulcan Nerve Pinch). As any Trekkie knows from the TOS episode "The Enterprise Incident", there's no such thing.
  • Sinister Surveillance: The old man and his cohorts, Hans and Frederick. They use a Van in White instead of the usual Van in Black, so their surveillance is actually inconspicuous.
  • Snark-to-Snark Combat/Passive-Aggressive Kombat: Buffy vs. Cordy.
  • Sniper Rifle: Frawley's hunting rifle.
  • Soft Glass: Averted.
  • So Happy Together: A subtle version; in contrast to Buffy's isolation from the Scoobies and even Angel, she has genuine moments of bonding with Faith. The next time they're shown together is in "Revelations", when this bond starts to fray.
  • Spear Carrier: Most of the information about Holly and Michelle comes from The Big Board Buffy uses for her Homecoming Queen campaign. The two girls themselves only appear briefly and only speak at the very end of the episode.
  • Staring Down Cthulhu: Cordelia with Lyle.
  • Status Quo Game Show: Devon is about to announce the winner for Homecoming Queen when Buffy and Cordy show up, still dirty and disheveled. Devon announces that they have a tie as the camera zooms in on Cordy and Buffy. The winners are — Holly and Michelle! Cordy and Buffy look at each other in disgust and walk out together as one of the winners chokes, "I promised myself I wasn't gonna cry!"
  • Super-Reflexes: Thanks to Cordelia's warning, Buffy yanks her foot out of the Bear Trap as it's snapping shut.
  • Super Window Jump: Buffy and Cordelia are fighting a demon inside an abandoned shack when someone fires a grenade into it. Buffy grabs Cordelia and jumps through one window. The demon jumps through another window...which is shuttered and boarded up so he bounces back into the room and lands beside the grenade again. BOOM.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: Buffy repeatedly uses the Dramatic Gun Cock for emphasis. This comes back to bite her when she runs out of ammo quickly.
  • Suspiciously Specific Denial: Willow and Xander stand awkwardly at the dance, watching the Dingoes play. Faith approaches them, and wonders why they're so mopey.
    Xander: [guilt-ridden] Oh, we're not mopey. We're grooving on Oz's band. He's a great guy, Oz.
    Willow: [close to tears] He wrote this song for me.
  • Swapped Roles: Cordelia accuses Buffy of this. Ironically, Cordy ends up getting a taste of a Slayer's work environment.
  • Teach Him Anger: Buffy and Cordelia hole up in a deserted shack. Buffy, gun in hand, shutters some of the windows. Cordy's panicking about all the things she'll never get to do, including finding out "if it's real" between her and Xander. Cordy's really falling to pieces, but Buffy declares that they're going to find a way out of there, get back to the school and kill their attackers in time for Buffy's "sweeping victory" at the Homecoming Dance. As intended, Cordelia's fear evaporates into white-hot rage.
    Cordelia: I know what you're up to! You think if you get me mad enough I won't be so scared! ...And hey, it's working! WHERE'S A DAMN WEAPON?!"
  • Technology Marches On: The Twins use a lot of really high tech gear. It was absolutely amazing in 1998.
  • Tempting Fate: Buffy tells Angel she's got a boyfriend she can count on. Gilligan Cut to Scott breaking up with her.
  • Terrorists Without a Cause: The Deputy Mayor reports that the Gruenshtahler twins are wanted in Germany for acts of terrorism, including the bombing of a commercial airplane.
  • That Didn't Happen: Xander/Willow kissage
    Xander: (points at her) That didn't just happen!
    Willow: No! (gestures nervously) I mean, it did, but it didn't!
  • This Page Will Self-Destruct: Played with. As soon as Mr. Trick's video greeting concludes, a shot rings out from Jungle Bob's rifle, causing the video monitor to explode.
  • Training Montage:
    • After Scott dumps Buffy, Xander mentions how she and Faith are getting all sweatiah. Cut to Buffy slamming her fists into sparring mits held by Faith, clearly enraged over the breakup.
    • The SlayerFest competitors (save for Lyle and Candy, who just make out with each other) also have a moment of this that's juxtaposed with Buffy and Cordelia's campaigns. The twins spar against each other with martial arts moves. Frawley, the hunter, tests his traps and guns. The demon practices knife-throwing.
  • The Triple: The Mayor thinks Allan's nails could be cleaner. Allan says that he washed them, but the Mayor admonishes him, "After every meal and under your fingernails. Dirt gets trapped there. And germs. And mayonnaise."
    • Mr. Trick lecturing his contestants on the competitive spirit.
    "We all have a desire to win. [gestures to Germans] Whether we're human... [a nod at Lyle Gorch] vampire... [stops beside a yellow demon with spines on his head] ...and whatever the hell you are, my brother, you got them spiny-head lookin' things. I ain't never seen that before."
  • Twisted Echo Cut: Buffy's ultimatum to Cordelia that she's entering the Homecoming race. Cut to Mr. Trick at Slayerfest '98, giving a speech on the beauty of competition.
  • Unholy Matrimony: Candy and Lyle are Happily Married, but are also murderous, ruthless vampires whose idea of a wedding present is Candy avenging the death of Lyle's equally unsavory brother. Incidentally, while we see several long-term vampire couples in Buffy and Angel, the Gorches are the only ones to be actually married. Most vampires don't bother with the ceremony.
  • Unperson: Buffy laments that she's turned into one these. Even Buffy's favorite teacher hasn't got a clue who she is.
  • Villain Team-Up: Mr. Trick, realizing the Mayor means business, agrees to work for him willingly.
  • Villain: Exit, Stage Left: Carrying on the Running Gag from "Bad Eggs", Lyle Gorch flees promising We Will Meet Again, instead of risking death to avenge his loved ones.
  • Walking Shirtless Scene: The twins' shirtless, muscular chests are seen up close as they practice martial arts moves.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: The old man is left behind thinking he'd won Slayer Fest. Then again there's the money left by the Gorches.
  • You Have No Idea Who You're Dealing With: Stung by Cordelia's airy dismissal of her ("Just because you were Guacamole Queen when you were 3..."), Buffy lays down the gauntlet.
    "You've awakened the prom queen within."
    • The noise you are now hearing is the claws coming out.