Buffy tracks and kills a vampire while Angel watches her from behind some bushes. The college has a groundbreaking ceremony for the new Cultural Center building, and Xander is one of the construction workers. Buffy, Willow, and Anya watch, and while Anya imagines sex with Xander, Buffy and Willow talk about the meaning of Thanksgiving. Xander begins to dig, the ground suddenly caves out under him and he drops into an old abandoned building, which turns out to be the Old Sunnydale Mission. Buffy is upset that her mother is going to be out of town for Thanksgiving, but then decides to cook her own Thanksgiving dinner and invite all their friends. Covered in a blanket and in terrible shape, Spike runs through the woods, trying to escape Riley and his team as they look for him. Anya arrives at Xander's to find him incredibly sick, and right away starts taking care of him. A green haze comes up from the old Mission and goes to the Cultural Center where some weapons are being kept. After the haze comes in contact with a spear, it turns into a large Native American man and kills Professor Gerhardt. Buffy and Willow later secretly investigate the murder, and wonder why the curator's body was missing an ear. They discover that a Chumash knife is missing. Buffy tells Giles about the murder while planning to have Thanksgiving at his place.
After Giles agrees to look up information on the Chumash Indians, and Buffy leaves, Angel appears from the back room, having travelled to Sunnydale due to his friend's vision of Buffy in danger. He and Giles talk about watching over Buffy. Angel tells him he doesn't want Buffy to know, though keeping a secret from Buffy is hard for both of them. Buffy and Willow talk about preparations for Thanksgiving and then Riley shows up. Buffy invites Riley to her Thanksgiving dinner, but he already has plans to visit family in Iowa. Willow goes to get coffee and runs into Angel. He tells her he's not evil, and that he's just looking out for Buffy because she might be in trouble. He quickly explains he's not here for personal reasons and only to keep Buffy safe, though contradicts that sentence when he asks who's that guy talking to Buffy, seemingly showing suspicion and slight jealousy.
Starving, Spike tries to get food from Harmony, but she threatens him with a stake and he leaves. Buffy goes to find Father Gabriel, a priest who may have information for them, but finds that a returning Chumash spirit has killed him. After the mission was uncovered, his spirit was released to reenact the wrongs that were done to his people. Buffy and Giles talk about it, while working on dinner and then Willow shows up with a stack of books on the Chumash. She explains that while they once were peaceful, the people of Sunnydale horribly mistreated them. Cutting off a victim's ear is a way to prove that the kill was successful. Willow and Giles argue about what happened between the Native Americans and the people who took their land and their lives. When Buffy goes to the kitchen, the two talk secretly about Angel's reappearance.
Anya practically carries Xander to Giles's place, and after some research, they determine that he probably has malaria, smallpox, and syphilis some of the diseases that took a terrible toll when brought from Europe to a population without resistance.
With only a blanket to protect him from the sun, Spike shows up at Giles's place asking for help. Buffy is reluctant to give it, but after he offers inside information on the Initiative, and Willow helps him explain that he can't bite anyone anymore, they bring him inside and tie him to a chair.Everyone begins to argue about what they're going to do to stop the spirit. Willow doesn't want to kill him, but everyone else argues that that's the only way. While Willow, Anya and a weakened Xander go to find the Dean and warn him his life may be in danger, the spirit calls forth more spirits to help him get revenge for their people.
The spirits attack Buffy, Giles and Spike with arrows. Helplessly tied to a chair, all Spike can do is try to move out of the way as he gets hit with arrows. Willow, Xander and Anya encounter Angel on their way back and they determine that the Chumash went after Buffy. Buffy tries to go for more weapons, but gets an arrow in the arm. After riding over on bicycles, the Scooby Gang tries to attack the Chumash spirits as best they can with shovels. Angel shows up and helps them out. Buffy cuts one of the Chumash with his own knife and discovers that their own weapons can kill them. The spirit turns into a large black bear, which Spike desperately tries to get away from and ends up knocking the chair over. Buffy struggles with the bear and then stabs it. All the spirits disappear.
Angel walks away without being seen by Buffy, and later, the gang sits down to Thanksgiving dinner. Still tied to a chair, Spike sits with them and whines that he still hasn't been fed. Xander accidentally lets it slip that Angel was in town.
Tropes in this episode:
- And This Is for...: Xander throwing things at bear Hus. "That's for giving me syphilis!"
- Annoying Arrows: Buffy gets an arrow through her arm, and Spike gets turned into an arrow pin-cushion (fortunately none of them hit his heart). Justified for Spike, since he's a vampire and wounds like that are non-fatal as long as they don't hit his heart. In the same episode there is an amusing crossbow error, as Buffy shoots a bolt at the Native American ghost outside the window, who just casually bends aside as the bolt sails veeery slowly out into the night.
- Anti-Climax: The terrible danger Doyle saw Buffy was in at the end of "Bachelor Party" turns out to be an ordinary Monster of the Aesop. However, this does lead on to the excellent Angel episode "I Will Remember You".
- Armor-Piercing Question: The quote at the top of this page snaps Willow out of her White Guilt.
- Asskicking Equals Authority: Giles realises that Hus is targeting authority figures, and sends the Scoobies to warn the Dean. Angel, however, points out that Hus is a warrior, so will target the strongest warrior among his enemies. Which of course means Buffy.
- Bad News in a Good Way:Anya: The syphilis will make you blind and insane, but it won't kill you. The smallpox will do that.
- Bait-and-Switch/Mook Horror Show: The episode opens with a handsome youth (clearly our Victim of the Week) walking fearfully through The Lost Woods, then jumping in fear as he comes face to face with... the Slayer! He turns out to be a vampire.
- Bear Hug: Happens literally!
- Bears Are Bad News: An angry Native American spirit is locked in combat against Buffy, upon which he transforms into a large grizzly. Spike promptly blames Buffy and starts freaking out.Spike: A BEAR! YOU MADE A BEAR!
Buffy: I didn't mean to!
Spike: UNDO IT! UNDO IT!
- Being Watched: Buffy senses Angel's presence. As she did not have this ability before, it's likely an after-effect of Angel feeding on her in "Graduation Day".
- Bond One-Liner: The vampire of the week snarls that things were better in Sunnydale before Buffy arrived. Buffy stakes him, saying, "And they say one person can't make a difference."
- Blatant Lies: Buffy is certainly not holding her Thanksgiving Dinner at Giles's house so he'll be stuck with the cleaning up.
- Bread, Eggs, Breaded Eggs:Willow: Buffy, earlier you agreed with me about Thanksgiving. It's a sham. It's all about death.
Buffy: It is a sham, but it's a sham with yams. It's a yam sham.
Willow: You're not gonna jokey-rhyme your way out of this one.
- Buffy Speak: Buffy says the stolen Chumash knife is a "juicy piece of clueage." She wants to find a "non-slayee way" to stop Hus. Giles is Unfeeling Guy.
- Bullet Dodge: We see an amusing crossbow error, as Buffy shoots a bolt at the Native American ghost outside the window, who just casually bends aside as the bolt sails veeery slowly out into the night.
- That appears to be an actual Slow Motion shot.
- The Bus Came Back: And he's not evil!
- Xander again. He even mentions this episode during his rant over the trope in "Buffy vs. Dracula".
- Spike as well. He spends the whole episode starving due to being unable to bite anyone, is chased by Initiative soldiers, gets kicked out of his old haunt by Harmony, gets punched in the face by Buffy, is tied up to a chair for the entire second half of the episode, and gets shot full of arrows by the spirits.
- Conveniently Timed Attack from Behind: An Indian is about to stab Buffy In the Back when Angel kills him. Buffy doesn't see this as she's busy fighting Hus.
- *Cough* Snark *Cough*: The commandos are griping about how Prof. Walsh is making them search for Spike on Thanksgiving Day.Riley: As long as he knows about the Initiative, he's a threat. We do this the Professor's way.
Forrest: [Coughing the words] Mama's boy.
Riley: That's a nasty cough. You might need to spend the weekend in quarantine.
Forrest: Oh, no. I'm done coughing.
- Cradle of Loneliness: Buffy hugs Gordo the stuffed pig, before suggesting they all get together for Thanksgiving.
- Decapitated Army: Killing Hus makes the other spirit warriors disappear.
- Description Cut: Buffy says, "Isn't that the whole point of Thanksgiving—everybody has a place to go?" Cut to Spike walking around the forest, wearing a blanket, looking desolate.
- Down on the Farm: Lampshaded by Riley when he describes the farm he grew up on, and admits he's making it sound like a Grant Wood painting.
- Ear Ache: Hus cuts an ear off his victims as a Battle Trophy.Willow: The coroner's office said she was missing an ear. So I'm thinking, Maybe we're looking for a witch. There's some great spells that work much better with an ear in the mix.Buffy: That's one fun little hobby you've got there, Will.Willow: Or... Or maybe an ear-harvesting demon that—it's, like, building another demon completely out of ears. Or... Ooh! Thought! We're just assuming someone else cut off the ear. What if it was self-inflicted, like van Gogh?
- Entitled Bastard: Spike genuinely expects Buffy and the Scoobies to help him out when he shows up, half-starved and crazy, on Giles' doorstep.Spike: What part of "help me" did you not understand?
Buffy: The part where I help you.
- Fantastic Fragility: Hus can only be killed by his own knife.
- Floorboard Failure: Xander disturbs Hus's spirit when he falls through the floorboards of an old mission buried by a long-ago earthquake.
- Flyover Country: "Iowa. That's one of the ones in the middle, right?"
- Foreshadowing: Willow wonders what kinds of archaeological secrets are hidden underground in Sunnydale, just beneath her feet. Temples, perhaps. Good for her.
- Get Out!:Harmony: Get out!Spike: But, baby, this is where I belong.Harmony: [pointing] Out. I mean it. I've been doing a lot of reading, and I'm in control of my own power now, so we're through.
- Hand Gagging: Angel to Willow, who naturally jumps to the conclusion that he's turned evil again.
- He Knows Too Much: Even though Spike has been chipped and can't actually hurt anyone, Professor Walsh still sends her men after him for this reason. It's why he turns to Buffy and the Scoobies for help.Forrest: It's neutered. The implant works great. He can't hurt a single living thing.
Riley: As long as he knows about the Initiative, he's a threat.
- Hero Stole My Bike: The Scoobies steal some bikes to get back to Giles' apartment in a hurry, which leads to a shot of them pedaling along to Big Damn Heroes-type music.
- Horror Doesn't Settle for Simple Tuesday: Happy Thanksgiving. Here's some funny syphilis.
- Horror Hunger: Spike is starving because he can't kill anyone.Spike: You know what happens to vampires who don't get to feed? Living skeletons, mate. Like famine pictures from those dusty countries, only not half as funny.
- Hot Men at Work: Anya watching Xander dig.Buffy: [suggestively] Soon he'll be sweating.
Anya: I'm imagining having sex with him again.
- Human Pincushion: Spike, much to his annoyance.Spike: Hey! Watch the heart!
- Hypocritical Humor:
- Spike derides the idea of apologising to the Chumash, but quickly changes his mind once they start shooting him full of arrows.
- Angel says he's not here for personal reasons, then gets jealous when he sees Buffy talking to Riley.
- Buffy is telling Willow that even the thought of killing Hus is making her feel bad, only to (yet again) interrupt this touching speech to discuss the cooking arrangements.
- Buffy berates Giles for not having a ricer, then admits she doesn't even know what one is.
- After her rather self-righteous attitude to the Hus situation throughout the episode, Willow gets very into beating up on Hus and the spirits when the crunch time actually comes. There is a bit of a Hypocrisy Nod, as afterwards at the dinner Willow is clearly feeling a bit guilty about how quickly she turned to blood-lust.
- I Like My X Like I Like My Y:
- I'm Standing Right Here: Xander accidentally burns Anya.Xander: He's a vengeance demon. You don't talk to vengeance demons. You kill them.
- Indian Burial Ground: Specifically, a Spanish mission in which many Native Americans died of European diseases, buried intact under UC Sunnydale.
- I Need a Freaking Drink:
- Spike says he wouldn't mind some of the brandy being used for the cooking. Everyone ignores him.
- He constantly demands blood, which of course everyone also ignores until the following episode. Buffy says he can have some gravy instead. "That has blood in it. I think."
- Inverted Trope: The vampire as scared victim being attacked by the Big Bad Buffy.
- Jerkass Has a Point: Spike scorns the idea of apologising to the ghosts, and his general attitude to Native American relations can hardly be described as politically correct, but he does have a point that feeling awkward and guilty is not going to help the situation in the slightest. Besides: "You exterminated his race. What could you possibly say that would make him feel better? It's kill or be killed here; take your bloody pick." Giles gets miffed and points out that those are the exact same points he was making.Xander: Maybe it's the syphilis talking, but some of that made sense.
- Karmic Death: Hus goes around cutting off ears and hanging people, like bounty hunters did to his people.
- The Last of These Is Not Like the Others: Harmony kicking out SpikeHarmony: I'm strong and I'm beautiful and I don't need you to complete me. [pulls out stake] And you're mean!
- Last-Second Word Swap: Spike, running his hand up Harmony's leg.Spike: I knew you'd end up welcoming me back with open... arms.
- Magical Native American: Buffy faces a Native American vengeance spirit who can shapeshift, and summon ghostly Native American warriors. Arguably this is an aversion / subversion / deconstruction. Magic is hardly limited to Native Americans in the Buffyverse, and this trope is sort of examined—Willow feels sympathetic to the spirit since it's avenging legitimate wrongs, while everyone else points out that, you know, it's still a murderous vengeance spirit that kills people and gave Xander magical syphilis. They wind up destroying it at the end.
- Metaphorgotten:Willow: Yeah. Thanksgiving isn't about blending of two cultures; it's about one culture wiping out another. And then they make animated specials about the part where, with the maize and the big, big belt buckles. They don't show you the next scene, where all the bison die and Squanto takes a musket ball in the stomach.
Buffy: Ok. Now, for some of that, you were channeling your mother.
- Missed Him by That Much: Pausing for one last look at Buffy through the window, Angel walks off into the darkness. Buffy looks out the window a moment later.
- New Job as the Plot Demands: Xander is now a construction worker, causing Buffy to gripe about missing out on free food. However the trope is averted after this, as construction work turns out to be something Xander is good at. And it turns out to be useful, what with all the times Buffy's house gets wrecked.
- No Sympathy: Buffy opens the door to find a pallid and smouldering Spike, huddled under a blanket and pleading for an invitation before he burns up in the sun. When she refuses, Spike hurls himself at the door, and everyone smirks as he just bounces off the threshold. Spike only gets in when he reveals he has information on the Initiative.Spike: Help me. [Buffy shoves him back into the sun and he starts sizzling] What part of "Help me" did you not understand?!Buffy: The part where I help you.
- Not Helping Your Case:Spike: Look, I'm safe. I can't bite anyone. Willow, tell 'em what I did.Willow: You said you were gonna kill me, then Buffy.Spike: Yes, bad, but let's skip that part...
- The Scoobies go to warn the Dean he might be next on Hus' list.Anya: Well, that was a waste of time.
Xander: I think he thought we were crazy.
Willow: Maybe if Anya hadn't opened the conversation with, "Everybody got both ears?"
- The Scoobies go to warn the Dean he might be next on Hus' list.
- Now You Tell Me: Angel rings Giles to warn that Hus will probably target Buffy. Giles, who's crouched behind a sofa with Buffy dodging arrows, says he already knows.
- Oh, Crap!: Buffy and Spike's reaction when Hus turns into a bear.Spike: A bear?! You made a bear!
Buffy: I didn't mean to!
Spike: Undo it! Undo it!!
- Oh Wait, This Is My Grocery List: Willow starts reading what she thinks is a list of ingredients for a magic potion, only to be told it's the recipe for the turkey stuffing.
- Pillow Pistol: Harmony keeps a wooden stake in her bed, which she uses to drive off Spike.Spike: You had that in our bed?! Do you know how dangerous that is?!
- Plot Armor: Spike takes several arrows to the torso during the stand-off with the Chumash warriors all of which conveniently miss his heart.
- Political Correctness Gone Mad:
Giles: It's clear we're dealing with a spirit of some kind. It's very common for Indian spirits to change to animal form.Buffy: It's plenty uncommon for me to freeze up during a fight. I mean, I had the guy, I was ready for the take-down, and I stopped. And Native American.Giles: Sorry?Buffy: We don't say "Indian."Giles: Oh, right. Yes, yes. Um, always behind on the terms. Still trying not to refer to you lot as "bloody colonials."
Spike: Listen to you. How you gonna fight anyone with that attitude?
- Spike naturally has some rather caustic things to say about everyone's White Guilt-infused attempts to come up with a solution to the Hus problem.
- "Psycho" Strings: Stake-wielding Harmony.
- Rant-Inducing Slight: Angel says he needs to stay away from Buffy for her own good, causing Willow to start ranting about Oz until Angel brings her back on track.
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Spike rather bluntly points out that the White Guilt hand-wringing the Scoobies are doing about Hus is not helping the situation any.Spike: I just can't stand all this namby-pamby boohooing about the bloody Indians!Willow: Uh, the correct term is—Spike: You won! Alright? You came in, and you killed them, and you took their land! It's what conquering nations do! It's what Caesar did, and he's not going around saying "I came, I conquered, [whiny] I feel really bad about it!" The history of the world isn't people making friends. You had better weapons and you massacred them. End of story.
- Required Spinoff Cross Over: After these events, Buffy visits Los Angeles to express her annoyance to Angel personally in the Tear Jerker episode "I Will Remember You".
- Rule of Threes:
- Xander has the symptoms of malaria, smallpox and syphilis.
- Willow knocks on Giles's door, then Anya (supporting Xander). The third time Buffy answers the door, it's Spike.
- Rule of Symbolism: When Hus is first disturbed, Buffy is wearing a black cowboy hat.
- Running Gag:
- Every conversation Buffy has gets turned to the subject of food.
- The Scoobies assuming Angel has turned evil again.
- More comparisons are made between Spike's Restraining Bolt and impotence.
- Giles gets yet another Tap on the Head when an Indian repeatedly slams his head into a wall.
- Spike turning up at Buffy's door, wrapped in a smouldering blanket, is a gag that continues all the way to Season 6.
- Sarcasm Mode:
- Giles gets in plenty in this episode.Giles: Let's give him land!
Buffy: Sarcasm accomplishes nothing, Giles.
Giles: It's sort of an end in itself.
- And of course Spike.Spike: You came in, and you killed them, and you took their land. That's what conquering nations do. It's what Caesar did, and he's not going around saying "I came, I conquered, I feel really bad about it."
- And Buffy when Spike says he's harmless now.Buffy: So you haven't murdered anybody lately? Let's be best pals!
- Buffy in response to a Badass Boast by Hus.Hus: I am vengeance. I am my people's cry. They call for Hus, for the avenging spirit to carve out justice.
Buffy: They tell you to start an ear collection?
- Buffy and Giles are pinned down behind the sofa.Giles: Uh, we need a plan.
Buffy: Yes, let's talk about it some more. Where's your weapons chest?
- Giles gets in plenty in this episode.
- Saying Too Much: Oh, Xander.Willow: All of us working together; it's just like old times.
Xander: Yeah, especially with Angel here and everything.
[As Buffy was not told this, she glares down the table at a shame-faced Willow, an embarrassed Xander and Giles, and Spike trying not to laugh.]
- Serious Business: Buffy's Thanksgiving dinner, though unlike other examples of this trope in the series, Buffy actually gets the dinner she wants, once all the spirits have disappeared.
- Shaped Like Itself:Riley: ... and I know what you're thinking. It's like I grew up in a Grant Wood painting.Buffy: Exactly. If I knew who that was.Riley: Just a guy who painted stuff that looked like where I grew up.
- Shovel Strike: Willow and Anya whaling on one of the Chumash.
- Sickly Green Glow: Which coalesces into the form of Hus and his fellow vengeance spirits.
- Slashed Throat: Hus's first victim.
- Soapbox Sadie: Willow, regarding the whitewashing of history surrounding Thanksgiving. A valid perspective, until it starts confusing her views regarding the vengeance spirit killing innocents in the modern day.
- So Much for Stealth: Giles and Willow conclude Angel's Mysterious Protector act isn't what it used to be.
- Sword over Head: Buffy balks at killing Hus after he reveals his motive.
- Talk About That Thing: When Buffy runs into Riley outside the Expresso Pump.Willow: Hi. Well, I'm just gonna let you two... Look, they're selling coffee in the coffee shop. Yum.
- Technical Pacifist: Buffy is reluctant to hurt Hus, but eventually gets over it. Willow too bemoans how it only took her life being in danger to turn her into General Custer.
- Tempting Fate:
- Spike pleads for an invitation now that he's got his Restraining Bolt. "Come on, what have you got to be afraid of?" Answer Cut to Hus raising more spirit warriors.
- "So you haven't murdered anybody lately? Let's be best pals!" Thanks to the Restraining Bolt, Buffy will end up trusting Spike a lot more than she should.
- Took a Level in Jerkass: Willow gets pretty snotty and self-righteous towards the others about the Hus situation, more so than she normally is. While her general attitude towards the more problematic aspects of Thanksgiving and the cultural issues facing Native Americans is not without its merits, it's when she displays a similar attitude while everyone's trying to stop Hus from wiping out people who, for all the sins of history, had nothing to do with Hus's grievance that it really begins to be a problem.
- *Twang* Hello: Begins the final fight at Giles's.
- Twisted Echo Cut:
- Willow asks what the stolen Chumash knife looks like; Smash Cut to Buffy telling Giles:Buffy: Pretty darn scary... It was more like a riot than a Ralph's. I thought I was going to have to use Slayer moves on this one woman who was completely hoarding the pumpkin pie filling.
- And this...Riley: What's the line? Home's the place that, when you have to go there...
Buffy: They have to take you in.
[Cut to Harmony glaring at Spike]
Harmony: Get out!
- Willow asks what the stolen Chumash knife looks like; Smash Cut to Buffy telling Giles:
- Verbal Backspace:Spike: I came to you in friendship. [Buffy gives him a look] Well, all right, seething hatred...
- Violence Is the Only Option: After all the hand-wringing about dealing with Hus in light of the atrocities his people suffered, Spike points out that Hus simply doesn't care about their White Guilt; he's angry and vengeful and just wants them all dead. And even if Hus was willing to talk, there's very little the Scoobies could actually say that would make up for said atrocities, their inaction isn't helping the situation, and if they want to survive they've got no choice but to fight Hus and destroy him no matter how bad they feel about it.Spike: It's kill or be killed here. Take your bloody pick.
- Voluntary Shapeshifting: The Chumash spirit morphs into a flock of ravens and a bear.
- Wall Glower: A starving and homeless Spike stares longingly through a window at a pack of vampires encouraging a newbie to feed on a victim. Angel does his own version, giving Buffy a Longing Look before doing his Stealth Hi/Bye.
- Warm Bloodbags Are Everywhere: Much to Spike's frustration.
- White Guilt: The Scoobies do a lot of hemming and hawwing about how to handle a Native American spirit bent on vengeance against the white man. On the one hand, he's hurting more-or-less-innocent people. On the OTHER hand, it's true that his people were horribly oppressed.... It takes an epic "The Reason You Suck" Speech from Spike to goad them into decisive action. Spike's speech itself deconstructs this concept, since he rather bluntly (and politically incorrectly) points out that the spirit simply doesn't care about their white guilt — it's pissed off and wants them all dead, and even if it was willing to talk there isn't actually a lot the Scoobies could say to defend themselves or make themselves better. Essentially, he points out that while the Scoobies might have reason to feel guilty for what their ancestors did, their embracing of this trope is just self-indulgent hand-wringing that's preventing them from taking any meaningful action to solve the problem.
- Why Won't You Die?: Combined with Punctuated Pounding. The spirit warriors can't be killed unless Hus dies, and he can only be killed by his own knife.
- Woman Scorned: Harmony throws Spike out of the crypt when he goes there looking for food.
- Worrying for the Wrong Reason: Xander is in a panic because he has been cursed with a host of diseases. He's most stressed about the syphilis. Don't worry, Anya has experience in cursing men with diseases.Anya: It'll make you blind and insane, but it won't kill you. The smallpox will.
- You Wouldn't Shoot Me: When Spike says this in response to Harmony's brandished stake, she reminds him sharply, "You did it to me, remember?" (in "The Harsh Light of Day")