At the cemetery, Buffy stalks her vampire prey, killing several new vampires with a little unwanted help from both Riley and Spike. Riley demonstrates quite a bit of enthusiasm and new strength while fighting, while Buffy simply orders Spike to stay out of her way. As Buffy and Riley leave, Spike swears to taste Buffy's blood, but as he walks off, he falls into an open grave. Buffy and Willow argue over a topic from class and discuss Buffy's busy schedule.
Buffy arrives at the Magic Box to train and is pleasantly surprised to see that the back room has been transformed into an amazing training room. Harmony seeks Spike and his help because she is frightened that Buffy is out to kill her. The two conspire to kill the Slayer. While Joyce makes breakfast for Dawn, she briefly wonders who Dawn is before collapsing onto the floor.
At the hospital, an intern named Ben informs Buffy and Riley that Joyce will be fine, but that doctors aren't sure what caused her to collapse. Dawn is playing with a stethoscope and when she listens to Riley's heart, she finds that it is racing much faster than normal.
After listening to Riley's heart, a doctor recommends that he stay in the hospital to guard against the high risk of a heart attack, though Riley dismisses her concerns. Buffy tries to think of a way to help Riley and discusses the situation with Willow and Dawn. After noting her frustration that the government is likely spying on Riley, but when she needs to get a message to them she doesn't know to do it, Dawn suggests that if the government is listening then she needs to ask for help where she knows they'll hear it. Buffy has an idea and goes to Riley's place, picks up the telephone receiver and simply states that Riley needs help before replacing it.
Still part of the government, Graham tries to force Riley to see a doctor, but Riley is stronger than Graham and the other agents and gets away. After speaking with Graham later that day, Buffy takes it upon herself to get Riley to a doctor before he dies. Buffy gives Spike information about the doctor that can help Riley, hoping that the vampire could help find Riley and bring him there. Instead, Spike and Harmony go to the doctor and try to force him to remove the behavior-modification chip that prevents Spike from harming people.
Buffy finds Riley in the Initiative caves, punching into rock because he can't feel any pain. He tells her that he's afraid he won't be enough for her once he lets the doctors operate on him. After convincing Riley to get medical attention, Buffy brings him to the hospital and finds the doctor gone. Just after the doctor finishes sewing up Spike's skull, Buffy arrives with Riley and a fight ensues. As he tries to bite the Slayer, Spike finds that the doctor only pretended to remove the chip from his head. When Riley suffers a heart attack and collapses while fighting Harmony, Buffy immediately turns her attention to him. With Buffy distracted, an enraged Spike escapes with Harmony, ranting about his disgust with Buffy and his weariness with how she is seemingly the source of everything wrong with his life.
The doctor is able to operate successfully on Riley. Later, Graham talks with Riley and tells him he no longer has a purpose in Sunnydale—without the Initiative, he's nothing. Riley assures Graham he has Buffy, but Graham insists that'll never be enough.
Buffy shows up at Spike's crypt, ready to stake him. He's willing to let it happen, daring her to put him out of the misery of living in a world with her in it, being everywhere he turns, ruining everything he plans. She pauses, confused, stake raised, and then hesitates. They stare at each other for a moment, and then he pulls her into a passionate kiss. She pulls back, shocked, but then returns to the embrace. She tells Spike, "I want you," and he tells her, "I love you Buffy. I love you so much." Spike then awakens from his dream, horror-struck beside a still-sleeping Harmony, desperate to deny that his feelings for Buffy are anything but hate: "Oh God, no. Please, no."
Tropes in this episode include:
- All Amazons Want Hercules: Riley thinks Buffy will eventually leave him if he doesn't match her abilities.
- Anti Climax CutBuffy: Hanging out in that crypt all day, you just know he's doing something nasty.
[Cut to Spike and Harmony playing 20 Questions]
- Armor-Piercing Slap: Buffy slaps Spike when he cheerfully asks if Riley is likely to die.
- Attack Hello: Riley tackles Buffy when she enters her new training room.Riley: Just keeping you on your toes.
- Bait-and-Switch: Spike hasn't had his chip removed. Spike and Buffy appear to be making out but it's All Just a Dream. For now.
- Battle Couple: Averted; Buffy is not happy with either Riley or Spike's help.
- Brains and Brawn: Harmony agrees to let Spike do the planning, while unchipped Harmony can do the killing.
- Beethoven Was an Alien Spy: Buffy expresses doubts that Charlotte Corday really killed French revolutionary Jean-Paul Marat—his death looked more fangy than knifey to her.
- Brought Down to Normal: Riley's enhancements are set to get him killed, so they're undone. Riley is worried that Buffy won't want him anymore if he's not superhuman.
- Catapult Nightmare: Spike vaults up in bed after dreaming of kissing Buffy.
- Chekhov's Gunman: Dr. Ben lets Dawn borrow his stethoscope to play with. She listens to Riley's heart and discovers his tachycardia.
- Closet Geek: Buffy's reaction to her new gym is to say the Scoobies are like her fairy godmother, Santa Claus, and Q. Most would think James Bond, but she clarifies that she was not referring to the Star Trek: The Next Generation character, a reference so obscure it would go over most viewers' heads.
- Continuity Nod: Buffy "hunting" vampires in the teaser (as opposed to her usual tactics) as she was doing in "Buffy vs. Dracula".
- Cut His Heart Out with a Spoon (see also Two Scenes, One Dialogue)Spike: Harmony, if your incessant prattling bolloxes up this operation, I'm gonna personally yank out your pink and wriggly tongue.
- Daydream Surprise: After yet another double-cross, Buffy turns up at Spike's crypt determined to stake him once and for all. A pissed-off Spike rips off his shirt to expose his manly body and tells her to Get It Over With, whereupon they start making out passionately as Spike tells Buffy he loves her—only to wake up in bed with an expression of horror on his face.
- Death Glare: Spike catches Buffy casting one at her boyfriend and immediately calls her on it.
- Department of Redundancy DepartmentHarmony: Buffy won't give up until she's killed me to death!
- Designated Girl Fight: Averted; Riley fights Harmony and Buffy fights Spike.
- Don't Explain the JokeWillow: Should I be watching my occipital lobe?
Buffy: Your what?
Willow: Occipital, the lobe in the back of your brain? You know, like, should I be watching my back? But, you know, the back of your brain.
Buffy: Apparently not.
- Even funnier because the occipital lobe contains the brain's visual processing centers. Which process the watching. Of the back. Of the brain.
- Dressed to Heal: Ben gives Dawn his stethoscope to play with. She uses it to listen to her sister's heart (strong, steady Slayer heartbeat) then Riley's—which is pounding away much faster than it should.
- Erotic Dream: Not that Spike is happy to realize how erotic he finds Buffy...
- Eye of Newt: Giles has salamander eyes instead, claiming that they're cheaper yet equally effective. Willow looks rather miffed.
- Exact Words: Spike demands half his money up front if he's going to work for Buffy. Buffy tears her wad of notes in two and gives one half to Spike.
- Failed Attempt at Drama: Spike is making blood-curdling threats against Buffy—then falls into an empty grave.
- Foe Romance Subtext: The subtext becomes text.
- Spike says that Joey will never love Pacey while watching Dawson's Creek.
- Spike's rant over how Buffy seems to be everywhere, haunting him, is because Spike has fallen for Buffy and is therefore thinking about her constantly.
- Graham tells Riley there's nothing to hold him in Sunnydale; that he's meant to be more than Buffy's Love Interest.
- Buffy's comment that if she wanted someone with superpowers she'd be dating Spike.
- Tara expresses surprise and concern over Willow's magical power.
- Game Face: "Suit up, Harm."
- Good Smoking, Evil SmokingSpike: Taking up smoking, are you?
Harmony: I am a villain, Spike. Helloooo? [she coughs, ruining the whole thing]
- Hard-Work Montage: Lampshaded by Buffy re. college.Buffy: I thought it was gonna be like in the movies—you know, inspirational music, a montage; me sharpening my pencil, me reading, writing, falling asleep on a big pile of books with my glasses all crooked, 'cause in my montage, I have glasses. But real life is slow, and it's starting to hurt my occipital lobe.
- Holding Hands: Willow suggests Tara do palm reading at the Magic Box.Willow: [as Tara studies her palm] What do you see?
Tara: [sly smile] Willow hands.
- Hollywood Heart Attack: After warning after warning that it might already be too late to save Riley, he falls to the ground shaking during the climactic fight. Even with an inadequate OR and tools, the doctor fixes him up just fine afterward.
- How Many Fingers?: Riley asks this while trying to revive a groggy Graham, only to be concerned when Graham replies, "Seventeen." Graham then explains he meant Hostile 17 (the Initiative's designation for Spike) attacked him.
- I Have This Friend...: How Xander and Anya discuss their relationship.
- I Just Want to Be Special: Riley is very unwilling to be operated on, even at the possible cost of his life, in part because losing his enhancements will stop him from matching Buffy.
- I Taste Delicious: Spike tasting his own nosebleed grosses Buffy out completely.Spike: It's blood! It's What I Do!
- It's All About Me / Hypocritical Humor: Spike smirks over Harmony's ludicrous belief that Buffy is making a special effort to hunt her down. After he fails to kill Buffy yet again, Spike starts ranting over how Buffy is making a pet project out of driving him insane.
- Love Epiphany: "Oh God, no. Please, no."
- Not Himself: Riley is acting more hyper than usual.
- Open Heart Dentistry: Averted; the Initiative doctor doesn't have the skills or surgical tools to remove Spike's chip, so he just pretends to do so.
- "Open!" Says Me: Spike gripes over how Buffy breaks open the door to his crypt instead of waiting for an invitation like he has to.
- Open Shirt Taunt: Spike bares his manly chest for Buffy's stake.
- The Patient Has Left the Building: Riley ignores the doctor's plea to stay for observation.
- Picked Flowers Are DeadHarmony: You know what it means that he can't hurt any living thing? It means he can't even pick flowers.
Spike: What? Yes I can!
- Please, I Will Do Anything!: Subverted; Harmony takes it for granted that she'll have sex with Spike.
- Punch a Wall: Buffy finds Riley in the Initiative caves, punching his hand bloody on a stone wall and marveling that he can't feel any pain.
- Rant-Inducing SlightSpike: Buffy, Buffy, Buffy! Everywhere I turn, she's there! That nasty little face, that... bouncing shampoo-commercial hair, that whole sodding holier-than-thou attitude!
Harmony: Well, aren't we kinda unholy, by defin—
Spike: She follows me, you know, tracks me down. I'm her pet project. Drive Spike round the bend. Makes every day a fresh bout of torture. [picks up a headstone and smashes it]
Spike: You don't understand. I can't get rid of her. She's everywhere. She's haunting me, Harmony! [quietly] This... has got to end.
- Reckless Gun Usage: Spike gives Harmony custody of the crossbow to menace the doctor with. She ends up firing off a bolt uncomfortably close to both of them.
- Sex for Services: Harmony asks her ex-boyfriend Spike to shelter her when she assumes that Buffy is out to get her. It takes Spike a bit of hinting before she realizes what he wants in return. Her response is basically, "Oh, sure, whatever."
- Shaped Like Itself
- Buffy: "I'm starting to think this working hard is hard work."
- Willow: [looking around the Magic Box] "I feel like a witch in a magic shop!"
- Shirtless Scene: Spike shows the future Buffy/Spike attraction isn't just Foe Romance Subtext.
- Something That Begins with "Boring": Spike and Harmony play Twenty Questions. First question: is it bigger than a breadbox? Second question: is it smaller than a breadbox? Answer: It was a sodding breadbox.
- Surveillance as the Plot Demands: Thinking that the government is tapping Riley's phone, Buffy contacts them just by picking up the receiver and saying that Riley needs help (might be a subversion as Graham says he's already been talking to Riley for weeks).
- Tempting FateBuffy: Do you think that I spent the last year with you because you had super powers? If that's what I wanted, then I'd be dating Spike.
- Two Scenes, One DialogueBuffy: When I get my hands on Spike, I'm gonna rip his head off; I'm gonna—
Spike: —bathe in the Slayer's blood. Gonna dive in it. Swim in it.
- Walk-In Chime-In: Buffy asks Dawn what's wrong just as Ben the medical intern enters telling her everything's alright.
- Wham Episode: Spike is in love with Buffy.
- Who Are You?: The last thing Joyce says to Dawn before collapsing from her brain tumor. It's later revealed that Joyce's condition enables her to see past the change in reality that created Dawn.
- Who Would Be Stupid Enough?: Willow uses magic to create light, and asks what doofus would use a flashlight. Gilligan Cut to Buffy moving through the tunnels waving a flashlight.