Directed by Nick Marck
Willow updates Xander and Anya about the Trio, explaining that the three seem to have disappeared and moved from their basement lair. Anya chimes in with supportive statements about working hard for money and the importance of working in America just before Buffy appears, wearing a uniform for her new job. Later, Buffy is introduced to the world of fast food with the help of a unique and graphic video about her new place of work, the Doublemeat Palace. Her boss, Manny, introduces Buffy to her unenthusiastic coworkers and walks her through the area behind the counter, clearly identifying off-limit locations.
Buffy is offered the Doublemeat Medley, a burger consisting of typical ingredients and layers of meat and chicken, and Manny requires that she eat it. She reluctantly takes a bite, then questions what the secret ingredient in the meat is, but gets no clear answer. Buffy watches as a coworker, Gary, waits on a woman wearing a wig who is a regular at the Palace. After his demonstration, Buffy takes the next customer, but is lost quickly in the process as the man's order is too difficult for her to follow.
During her break, Buffy sneaks around in the back rooms, searching for the truth behind the secret ingredient, but is caught by Manny. At the counter, Buffy finds her friends have come by to visit her and she treats Xander to a Doublemeat Medley. Anya goes on a rant about how behind the wedding plans are, partially blaming Willow for the complications. Later, Buffy receives a surprise visit from Spike at the restaurant. He teases her, suggesting that she took the job to feel normal given that Buffy may possibly be a demon now. Buffy strongly refutes this, despite the fact Spike's chip now allows him to hurt her. Spike then tries to persuade her to leave the job and be with him, warning her that this job could kill her. He offers to do everything in his power to take care of her and help her with her money problems. She remains determined and turns away. Gary goes out to the alley behind the restaurant and encounters someone/something that he recognizes; then that someone or something attacks him.
The next day, with Gary not there to work, Buffy is told to work the grill and another coworker, Timothy demonstrates the process for her. Again, Buffy asks about the secret ingredient, but still can't get an answer from anyone. Manny then assigns Buffy to a double shift because of the reduction of employees. At the apartment, Xander talks to Anya, who's in another room, about Buffy working a double shift just before Halfrek, a female Vengeance demon appears suddenly before Xander, threatening to tear him into pieces. Fortunately, Anya enters the room and recognizes the Vengeance demon as an old friend and the girls greet each other gleefully. Anya clears up the confusion, explaining that she invited Halfrek to the wedding, not to seek vengeance on Xander. Wisely, Xander leaves to let the girls chat.
Back at the Doublemeat Palace, Buffy spots Spike outside through a window and spends her break having sex with him in the alleyway out behind the restaurant, though she looks thoroughly disinterested. Amy pays Willow a visit, wanting her rat cage as a souvenir and talks with Willow about her progress with avoiding magic. Before she leaves, Amy (wanting to get Willow back onto magic) gives Willow an unasked-for gift: A magical boost of power she can't quite control. Buffy watches the grinder grind meat, but discovers a human finger in the processed meat. Appalled at the idea of human meat being the secret ingredient, Buffy confronts Manny about it, but he doesn't agree with her suspicions. Buffy charges out into the dining area, attempting to stop all the patrons from eating while shouting that the meat is made of humans. The outburst gets her fired.
Over drinks, Anya and Halfrek talk about Anya's relationship with Xander and Anya begins to re-evaluate her situation with Xander after Halfrek repeatedly insists on addressing the issue. A meeting is called at the Magic Box as Buffy presents the severed finger and a Doublemeat Medley as evidence for her "people burger" theory, but Xander eats the burger before Buffy explains her theory. Willow arrives late, ready to begin researching despite the fact that she's still under Amy's gift spell and lacks control over her use of magic. Buffy leaves to investigate Doublemeat Palace after hours while Willow uses science to test a leftover piece of meat from the Doublemeat Medley.
Buffy breaks into the fast food place and finds clues: Blood and Manny's severed foot. Willow struggles to avoid using magic while Dawn and Xander talk about the kind of future life Buffy will have because she's the Slayer. Then Anya shows up late after Halfrek's departure, and a tense argument develops between her and Xander over the less-than-attractive appearance of a Vengeance demon.
Willow's analysis reveals that the basic composition of the "meat" is cellulose. While continuing to snoop, Buffy encounters the regular customer, Wig Lady, without her wig. A demonic lamprey-like appendage emerges from the lady's head and sprays a paralyzing liquid at Buffy. The lady advances on Buffy and talks about eating Doublemeat employees as the Slayer struggles to escape.
Willow shows up and tries to inform Buffy of the Doublemeat Medley which is not made of humans, but processed vegetables, then begins to confess to her about Amy's magical gift. Buffy's unable to respond to the information as she continues to try to get away from the demon, which manages to latch onto her shoulder and start to feed. Inside, Willow tries to stop the Wig Lady, using a large blade to cut the lamprey from the woman's body. That doesn't immediately kill the lamprey and Willow quickly shoves it into the meat grinder. The next day at the Summers' house, Amy pays Willow a visit, needing to borrow a few necessities. Willow denies her entrance into the house and angrily suggests that Amy stay away from her.
Buffy returns to the Doublemeat Palace to return her uniform to the new manager, Lorraine. After revealing her knowledge of the Doublemeat Medley's composition, she is sworn to secrecy. She gets her job back and resigns herself to working there, at least for now.
- Absentee Actor: Tara doesn't appear in this episode.
- Actor Allusion: As a child, Sarah Michelle Gellar appeared in Burger King commercial ads. McDonald's infamously sued her for citing their meat in one of the ads and banned her from eating in their restaurant. Ironically, McDonald's was a sponsor for the show.
- Alliterative Name:Manny: I'm Manny the manager. It's not a joke, it's just my name.Buffy: Right. You mentioned that a couple of times when I filled out the application.
- Bad Job, Worse Uniform: Especially the hat.
- Be Careful What You Wish For: Buffy gets her job back in exchange for keeping quiet about the Secret Ingredient. Her new manager is pleased with her attitude and proudly shows off her 5-year pin.Lorraine: See this? I want you shooting for this from here on out.Buffy: (looking resigned) Right. Here on out.
- Beneath Suspicion: The harmless old lady customer turns out to be the killer.
- Big Damn Heroes: Willow suspects that Buffy is walking into danger when she goes to the restaurant at night to look for clues. She's right, and it's her (as a Badass Normal, no less, having sworn off magic) that makes the kill when Buffy is paralyzed.
- Broke Episode: Buffy takes on a fast-food joint job to make ends meet.
- Buffy Speak: Wig Lady. Double-shiftiness. Veiny-nous.
- Burger Fool: The usual Buffy tradition of having evil forces being behind everything bad; it turns out that the "beef-chicken sandwiches" were actually made from a cheap plant cellulose extract that's been artificially flavored to taste like real meat, rather than human flesh as Buffy thought it was. This was toned down in later episodes as several fast food chains threatened to withdraw advertisements from the show.
- Captain Obvious: Buffy goes over to a filing cabinet. On top of it is a large plastic jug marked "Dehydrated Pickles."Manny: That's the dehydrated pickle storage. (Buffy tries to open the filing cabinet but it's locked) Those are locked.
- Come Out, Come Out, Wherever You Are: Buffy being stalked by the Wig Lady. "I know you're under there."
- Continuity Nod:
- Buffy mentions working as a waitress "that summer in LA".
- Xander says he thought Jonathan would have learned his lesson from the events of "Superstar".
- When Buffy mentions "that summer," Dawn is not quite sure what she means. This is a subtle nod to the fact Dawn's memories of that summer are fake.
- Description Cut: Spike telling Buffy, "This place will kill you" to Gary's death scene.
- Despair Event Horizon: It is clear Buffy has sunk to a new low when you see her having sex with Spike and she's just there going through the motions.
- Does This Remind You of Anything?: Loads of this starting with the name of the restaurant and eventually ending with a demon shaped like... Well, imagine an eight-foot-long chestburster with no arms and an even larger, rounder forehead, which spits thin streams of pale fluid (and was defeating by a lesbian cutting it off to save her helpless female friend from it, although it is doubtful that that was the intended Subtext).
Tara: Okay, wait, it was under her wig?Willow: Well, it was this thing, it just came out from inside her head.Tara: That's disgusting. What did it look like?Willow: Well... let's put it this way. If I wasn't gay before...
- The fact that the "Buffy At Work" The Making Of documentary used a clip of Buffy watching a video of "the cow and chicken coming together for the first time" (the back of a television emitting frantic moos and clucks was all that was shown of that part of the worker orientation video) when a Buffy writer who worked for a video store was talking about pornography, especially with the Doublemeat mascot, implies that the doublemeat subtext was intentional. (But despite that, who doesn't want one of those hats, or a plush toy of the mascot?)
- And, just in case it wasn't obvious enough, see Willow describing the demon to Tara in "Entropy".
- Double Entendre:Spike: You chose to be in the consumer service profession, and I'm a consumer. (smirking) Service me.Buffy: (not amused) Order something or go.
- Eat the Evidence: Xander eats the burger Buffy wanted Willow to analyze.
- Environmental Symbolism / Fauxtivational Poster: Spike and Buffy have sex next to a TEAMWORK poster. Buffy finds Manny's foot in the kitchen — behind her is a sign encouraging employees to BE PART OF THE DOUBLEMEAT EXPERIENCE.
- Evil Sounds Deep / Mood Whiplash: Halfrek threatens to dismember Xander in a horribly low, demonic voice, until she recognizes Anya, adopts a much girlier voice ("Anyanka?? Oh my GOD!") and hugs her, with Xander shitting bricks the entire time.
- Fingore: Buffy discovers a finger in the grinder.
- Foreshadowing: For Amy's actions in Season 7 "The Killer in Me".
- Spike urges Buffy to quit her job, saying he can get the money she needs. In "As You Were" we discover Spike is involved in demon black market deals.
- Combined with an Oh, Crap!, when Willow points out to Xander that he'll be hearing Anya's money talk "for the rest of your life."
- Game Face: Halfrek's features seriously freak out Xander, for reasons other than the obvious.Xander: So Anya, the way she looked, with ... the face... (nervous laugh) That wasn't what you used to look like, was it?
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: Starting with the name of the restaurant and eventually ending with a demon shaped like... Well, imagine an eight-foot-long chestburster with no arms and an even larger, rounder forehead, which spits thin streams of pale fluid (and was defeated by a lesbian cutting it off to save her helpless female friend from it). The fact that the "Buffy At Work" The Making Of documentary used a clip of Buffy watching a video of "the cow and chicken coming together for the first time" (the back of a television emitting frantic moos and clucks was all that was shown of that part of the worker orientation video) when a Buffy writer who worked for a video store was talking about pornography, especially with the Doublemeat mascot, implies that the doublemeat subtext was intentional. (But despite that, who doesn't want one of those hats, or a plush toy of the mascot?)
- And, just in case it wasn't obvious enough, see Willow describing the demon to Tara when they get back together in "Entropy".Tara: Okay, wait, it was under her wig?Willow: Well, it was this thing, it just came out from inside her head.Tara: That's disgusting. What did it look like?Willow: Well... let's put it this way. If I wasn't gay before...
- And, just in case it wasn't obvious enough, see Willow describing the demon to Tara when they get back together in "Entropy".
- Gorn. And plenty of Squick too.
- Gory Discretion Shot: Gary's death is shown via a close-up of his fallen Doublemeat Palace cap and a scream.
- High Turnover Rate: The Doublemeat Palace has a suspiciously high turnover rate - it turns out to be because of a customer who loves the taste of the employees. Fast food servicing indeed.
- Hypocritical Humor: Willow and Buffy have cleaned out the Trio's former hideout.Xander: Ooh! ...I mean, pff! Nerds.
- I am a Humanitarian: Subverted. Because of the high staff turnover and repeated mentions of a "secret ingredient", Buffy thinks the Doublemeat Palace is using human meat in its products. It turns out that the disappearances are because of a demon that likes the taste of people who've eaten lots of Doublemeat foods, and the "meat" is actually a vegetable product, with a secret ingredient of... beef flavoring. Comes complete with a Shout-Out to Soylent Green, where Buffy runs through the restaurant screaming "It's people!"
- I Ate WHAT?!: Subverted. Everything points to the fast-food hamburgers being made of people, but turned out to be merely vegetable matter. Xander does this twice beforehand though before he learns the truth.
- I Just Want to Be Normal: Lampshaded by Spike, who asks Buffy if she took this job to prove to herself that she's a normal girl after his claim that she Came Back Wrong.
- I'm Standing Right HereAnya: Well, time is running very short. After Willow gave us the 'whoosh' engagement party, I got slack on the planning 'cause I figured she'd help, but, well, now that's all been blown to hell.Willow: Hey, standing right here! Standing right exactly here.
- Jackass GenieHalfrek: Half the time I have no idea if I'm maiming the right guy.
- "Jaws" First-Person Perspective: Gary's death.
- "Just Joking" Justification: Buffy explaining away her "Soylent Green is people" stunt to the new manager.
- Kiss Diss: During the Wall Bang Her scene Buffy and Spike move their faces close to each other, then Buffy turns her head away.
- Longing Look: A single exchanged glance is enough to tell Spike what Buffy wants.
- Making Love in All the Wrong Places: Buffy and Spike have sex in an alley next to the Doublemeat Palace.
- Mystery Meat: Buffy starts working at the eponymous fast food place and finds a human finger in the meat grinder. This ends up being a bait-and-switch: the finger was there because a demon killed someone, but the meat was more mundane. Except that it wasn't meat at all - it was veggieburger flavored with beef and chicken fat. Fattening cardboard. Charming.
- Not Helping Your Case: Willow tells Amy she's getting her focus back after going cold turkey.Amy: Mm. I can see that.
(Amy indicates Willow's book. We see that Willow has highlighted all the text on the entire page.)
Willow: (defensively) It's a pivotal page.
- No Sense of Humor: Manny the Manager.
- Off with His Head!: How Willow kills the Wig Lady. Or, rather, she chops the thing's feeding tentacle that erupted from her head off. We're not entirely sure what her actual head is, but Willow chops one of them off.
- Our Zombies Are Different: The Doublemeat Palace workers aren't zombies or mind-controlled. They are just stuck in a soul-sucking, desperately-boring job. This is likely a case of Unreliable Narrator, as the episode focues on Buffy's POV and we are seeing events unfold from her own shocked perspective. Scenes set at the Doublemeat Palace in future episodes will show its employees acting more normally.
- The Paralyzer: Buffy is sprayed by a fluid that immobilizes her from the legs up.
- Pre-Mortem One-Liner: The Wig Lady is gnawing on Buffy's shoulder, distracted from Willow, who she'd seemingly made retreat by spraying venom at her. Enter Will with an axe."Missed me."
- Please Keep Your Hat On: The "Wig Lady"
- Reaction Shot: Buffy watching what happens to the Cow and the Chicken in the Doublemeat Palace workplace video.
- Red Herring: Buffy's workplace has nothing to do with the Monster of the Week despite its zombie-like staff or creepy vibe — the demon is only a customer and the "secret ingredient" is actually based on vegetables.
- Revenge: Implied with Amy, because Willow took so long to change her from a rat back to a human.
- Secret Ingredient
- The Secret of Long Pork Pies: Averted — Because of the High Turnover Rate and repeated mentions of a "secret ingredient", Buffy thinks the Doublemeat Palace is using human meat in its products. It turns out that the disappearances are because of a demon that likes the taste of people who've eaten lots of fatty foods, and the "meat" is actually a vegetable product, with a secret ingredient of... beef flavoring.
- Sex for Solace: Buffy is halfway through a double shift and feeling rather down when her supervisor tells her it's time for her break. Just then she sees Spike prowling outside. In an overt mating signal Buffy removes her cap to show off the hair that Spike likes so much. Spike immediately walks around the back — cut to him bonking Buffy up against the wall behind the Doublemeat Palace.
- Shaped Like Itself:Buffy: So ... what's the secret ingredient?Philip: (not taking his eyes off the grill) It's a meat process.Buffy: Well, what does that mean?Philip: It's a process, they do it to the meat.Buffy: But, what is it?Philip: It's just the name of the process.Buffy: (giving up) Oh. Yeah.
- To Soylent Green, when Buffy runs through the restaurant screaming "It's people!"
- Also to Sweeney Todd: The finger in the meat grinder (Tobias finding a nail in the meat), and the reference to pies made of cat meat (Of course, Mrs Lovett also made pies of people after having made them from cats)...
- Willow tells Xander that the Trio had "pictures of the Vulcan woman on Enterprise." Both Buffy and Enterprise aired on UPN from 2001 to 2003.
- Stock Superhero Day Jobs: Averted.
- Technicolor Science: Willow and her chemistry set.
- Thousand-Yard Stare: All the workers except Gary.
- Too Much Information: Philip telling Buffy about his ears clogging up with grease.
- Walk-In Chime-InAnya: The workers are the tools that shape America.Buffy: Good to know. (everyone looks to see Buffy in her Burger Fool outfit) Cause I was kinda feelin' like a huge tool, and now I know why.
- Wall Bang Her: Played for Fan Disservice when Buffy has sex with Spike in a back alley up against the wall, next to a dumpster, behind the Doublemeat Palace during Buffy's break. Classy.
- With Friends Like These...: Amy for Willow. Halfrek for Anya. The Scoobies gladly accept Buffy's offer of a free burger, even though it comes out of her wages.