Buffy returns from her meeting with Angel, implying that it didn't go well but refuses to reveal any details. Instead, the Scoobies discussed Buffy's future plans. Not knowing what she wanted to do in life, Buffy agreed to audit the classes Willow and Tara are taking until the next semester starts.
The Trio prepared for their competition to test Buffy, setting up their van with high-tech monitoring equipment. However the three get into an argument when Andrew paints a decal of the second Death Star on the side, since they're supposed to keep low-key.
At school, Buffy found herself overwhelmed by a class she took with Willow. Buffy later met up with Tara for Art History, but before class began, Warren tags her with a tiny device that caused her to move very slowly in time so everyone else seemed to be moving in fast-forward. Buffy was dazed as the world whizzed around her; when she finally noticed the device Warren planted on her, it self-destructed, putting Buffy back in normal time.
Later, Buffy decides to get a job and Xander pulls some strings to get her a job as part of his construction team, telling him about the time situation at school before she's introduced to Tony, the boss, and two other workers, Danny and Vince. Although stronger than the other workers, she makes a bad impression when she starts to power through the work since the crew is being paid by the hour. Andrew summons demons from the van, which thrashed the construction site before Buffy kills them. Xander is angry that Buffy brought her slayer work to his job and that he's now got to find a way to explain the mess to his clients, and fires her.
Buffy learns about working at the Magic Box from Giles and Anya as Jonathan began casting a spell to loop time. Buffy assists a man with a candle sale and then goes downstairs to fetch a live mummy hand for a female customer. The hand attacked her and she was forced to kill it, which also killed the sale. Events started to repeat themselves (a la Groundhog Day, as Buffy must satisfy the customer while dealing with the mummy hand. If she fails, the events reset to when the customer walks into the store. Buffy becames increasingly agitated, even taking off Giles's glasses and stepping on them in one loop, and crying in another. After several loops, Buffy finally manages to end the spell by promising the customer they'll deliver the mummy hand instead so she doesn't have to deal with it directly. Although Giles congratulates Buffy on making her first sale, Anya reminds her that she didn't charge extra for the item's delivery and (despite Giles trying to ignore the mistake) decides to take the money out of Buffy's pay. This is the last straw for Buffy, and she quits as the three villains keep score.
Later that night, Buffy got drunk with Spike at his crypt. Completely hammered, Buffy went with Spike to a bar where he played poker (using kittens as currency) and searched for information. After the poker game ended badly, Buffy ranted to Spike about the new low her life has reached with her inability to understand school or get a decent job. Meanwhile the Trio, still spying, get into an argument over who was the best James Bond and accidentally trip the horn (which plays the theme tune to Star Wars). Buffy and Spike notice the black van that she realizes has been at all the events of the day; the Trio notices Buffy approaching with alarm.
A fake demon appears from behind the van and threatens Buffy, but it's beaten down by a staggering drunken kick from the girl while the van drives away. With the use of smoke to confuse the Slayer and vampire, the demon (Jonathan in disguise) runs away. Buffy began to recover from her drunken state and complained to Giles about her life. He consoled her and offered her a check to help pay for all the expenses. Buffy was happy that Giles would always be there, but the look on Giles's face suggested that he might not always be.
- Alien Geometries: In an effort to escape the time loop, Buffy tries to walk out the Magic Shop door only to find herself entering the shop from the back, much to Giles and Anya's puzzlement.
- Ape Shall Never Kill Ape: "He kills our kind! Don't let him in!"
- Bar Brawl: Averted; Spike tries to get Buffy's help when the demons start ganging up on him, but she just upends the basket of kittens and walks out while everyone's trying to catch the 'money'.
- Best Beer Ever: InvertedBuffy: BLEH!
- Big Red Devil: In order to distract Buffy who's approaching their Van in Black, Jonathan uses a spell to disguise himself as a demon that seems to be modeled on the South Park Satan. He goes down in one hit, spouts something about returning to his home dimension to die, then drops a smoke bomb and runs. It only works because Buffy is drunk off her ass.
- Big Red Button: The Genre Savvy Trio naturally have one for their Destruct Mechanism.
- Birds of a Feather: Spike suggests Buffy engage in a little Perp Sweating to find out who's hassling her.Buffy: Not my kind of fun.Spike: Yeah it is. And your life's gonna get a lot less confusing when you figure that out. [snip] You're not a schoolgirl. You're not a shop girl. You're a creature of the darkness. Like me.
- Blatant Lies: The demons cheating at poker.Spike: Me? I cheat? He's got X-ray vision! (points to scaly demon)
Scaly Demon: I'm not using it!
Clem: (stands up angrily) We are not the ones who are cheating! (An ace of spades protrudes from his folds of skin) I, I had no idea that was there. I could have leaned on that days ago.
- Cavemen Versus Astronauts Debate: Warren and Andrew's argument on who was the best James Bond actor.
- Chekhov's Gag: Andrew isn't happy over Holding Hands for a spell incantation, causing Warren to say, "You know what homophobia really says about you?" Also serves as a Brick Joke from when 'casting spells' was used as a Getting Crap Past the Radar way of portraying Willow and Tara's lesbian relationship.
- Chekhov's Gunman: Clem (credited here as 'Loose-Skinned Demon') becomes a minor character in the series.
- Chekhov's Gun: Jonathan's Voluntary Shapeshifting spell is used for more serious purposes in "Dead Things". The camera hidden by the Trio in the Magic Shop becomes a plot point in "Entropy".
- Comfort Food: Buffy returns from her meeting with Angel with a gigantic tub of fried chicken.
- Curse Cut Short: Buffy gets out a "What the f__" before a Smash Cut. Averted when she actually says "Crap" to celebrate UPN's looser restrictions on swearing.
- Does This Remind You of Anything?: Twenty-something person can't focus on what they want to do in life.
- Double Entendre: The Scoobies help themselves to Buffy's fried chicken.Dawn: I'll take a drumstick.
Willow: I'm a breast girl myself. (looks slyly at Tara) But then you all know that.
- Dope Slap: Timothy Dalton is not the greatest Bond actor!
- Description Cut: Buffy with no idea what to do with her life to Jonathan talking about how decisive she is.
- Drowning My Sorrows: Buffy after her very bad day.
- Evil Feels Good: Spike encourages Buffy to do things his way, which will include all sorts of badness and mixing with evil creatures.Spike: Try on my world. See how good it feels.
- Evil Hand: It is from Buffy's perspective.
- Evil Is Petty: Spike cheating at kitten poker, then expecting Buffy will beat up the demons when they object.
- Finish Dialogue in Unison: The Trio excitedly rattle off all the information they've gathered on the Slayer.Andrew: Plus, look what Warren and me discovered by accident before we drove away!The Trio: Free cable porn!
- Foreshadowing: Giles' worried look when Buffy says, "This makes me feel safe. Knowing you're always gonna be here."
- Funny Background Event: The Trio cast a spell in the back of the van causing a dramatic puff of smoke, which promptly fills the van. We then cut to the Magic Shop where through the window we see the Van in Black parked across the street. The doors at the back open to emit a great cloud amidst the faint sound of coughing.
- Glasses Pull: Giles' Character Tic finally becomes too much and Buffy crushes his glasses underfoot.
- Gratuitous Latin: Lampshaded when Jonathan is casting a spell with his magic bone (heh heh)."Okay, it's in Latin, so don't laugh. It's supposed to sound like this."
- "Groundhog Day" Loop
- Heh Heh, You Said "X": Warren and Andrew break out into sniggers every time Jonathan's magic bone is mentioned.Warren: Jonathan, grab your magic bone.
- Helmets Are Hardly Heroic: When she gets jumped by monsters at the construction site, Buffy rather inexplicably removes her protective hard hat before throwing down with them.
- Humans Are UglyDemon 1: Better go Spike. Things could get ugly.Demon 2: It got ugly the moment he walked in; him and his human.Clem: Her skin's so tight, I don't even know how you can look at it! Eew!
- Humiliation Conga
- Hypocritical Humor: Plenty from the Trio.Warren: It's like she's completely without focus. (pause) Should we check the other channels for free cable porn?
- If You're So Evil, Eat This Kitten: Why the demons are using them for money.
- Imagine the Audience Naked: Inverted with Anya who suggests Buffy deal with her anxiety by imagining herself naked.
- Improvised Weapon: Buffy kills a demon by shoving its head in a scissor lift and yanking out the hydraulic cable, causing it to retract on the demon's head.
- Inelegant Blubbering: At one point during the "Groundhog Day" Loop, Buffy simply stands there crying until the loop restarts.
- In Vino Veritas: Buffy does some great snarking while drunk, but lets slip a telltale comment that Spike is the only person she can stand to be around.
- It Was There I Swear: The monsters that attack Buffy in the construction site turn into gloop and vanish.
- Money to Throw Away: Rather then get into a Bar Brawl, Buffy overturns the kitty so the kittens can escape.Demon: Hey, the money's getting away!Buffy: Scamper! Be free!
- Montage / Tantrum Throwing: Buffy trying to break the "Groundhog Day" Loop and failing.
- Mundane Utility: Buffy uses her Super Strength as a construction worker which pisses off her coworkers; they were being paid by the hour, so having someone speeding up the process is not welcome. The Scaly Demon uses his X-Ray vision to cheat at poker.
- No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: Unwilling to admit they were saved from scary demons by a little girl, the construction workers say that Buffy went nuts and attacked them. Xander is forced to fire Buffy.
- No Guy Wants an AmazonAndrew: The Slayer touched you!Jonathon: Yeah, it was sexy the way she touched me real hard with her fists.
- Not Listening to Me, Are You?Giles: Buffy, a word in your ear. Um, if you, uh, think of the store as a, as a library, (cleaning glasses) it'll help you to, to, uh, concentrate on, on ... service rather than selling.
Buffy: Yes. And then I'm going to marry Bob Dole and raise penguins in Guam.
Giles: Yes, uh, quite, quite, yes.
- Obligatory Joke: Spike asks someone to advance him a kitten so he can join in the poker game.Spike: Come on, someone's gotta stake me.
Buffy: (grinning) I'll do it! (Off Spike's look) What, you thought I was just gonna let that lie there?
- Ominous Multiple Screens: Not so ominous with the Trio watching them.
- Parental Substitute / Analogy Backfire: Buffy gets misty-eyed when Giles pays off her debts.
- Percussive Therapy: Averted — even though Buffy is looking for a fight, she refuses to play along with Spike by beating up the demons when they catch him cheating. She does feel better after defeating the big red demon...until she starts throwing up.
- Perp Sweating: Drunk!Buffy loudly demands to know which demon she has to kill for information.
- Plot Tailored to the Party: This episode establishes the specialties of the Trio — Warren's is technology, Andrew's is demon summoning, and Jonathan's is magic.
- Pun: When the customer first asks for a mummy hand.Buffy: I saw one downstairs. It's kinda hairy, though. Maybe it was a daddy hand.
- Rant-Inducing Slight: Buffy storms out of the poker game; Spike rushes to catch up with her.Spike: What's wrong, luv?
Buffy: What's wrong?! You were gonna help me! You, you were gonna beat heads and, and, and fix my life! But you're completely lame! Tonight sucks! And, and look at me! Look at, look at Stupid!Buffy — too dumb for college, and, and, and Freak!Buffy — too strong for construction work. And, and my job at the Magic Shop? I was bored to tears even before the hour that wouldn't end! And the only person I can even stand to be around is a ... neutered vampire who cheats at kitten poker.
Spike: (embarrassed) Oh, you saw the cheating, did you.
Buffy: Also? I think you're drunk.
- Running Gag: Buffy is determined to enjoy alcohol.*gulp*BLEH!
Andrew: I just hope she solves it faster than Data did on the ep of TNG where the Enterprise kept blowing up.
- Monty Python: "This mummy hand has ceased to be. It is an ex-mummy hand."
- To other famous Groundhog Day Loops.
- Smoke Out
- Sssssnake Talk: The forked-tongue demon bartender. Makes it difficult to say words like "Spike".
- So Much for Stealth: Andrew paints the Death Star on the side of their Van in Black, which also plays the Star Wars theme when he accidentally leans on the horn. Needless to say this gets Buffy's attention.
Spike: (quietly) These lowlifes know everything happens in this town.
- Drunk!Buffy in the Bad-Guy Bar
Buffy: Oh, good. These are the lowlifes!
(Demons all turn to look at her)
Spike: Fine. A little louder.
- Soul-Sucking Retail Job: "And my job at the Magic Shop? I was bored to tears even before the hour that wouldn't end!"
- Spies in a Van / Van in Black
- Spy Speak: The Genre Savvy Trio know this is the way to speak while shadowing someone.
- Square-Cube Law: Averted; Jonathan transforms himself into a much larger demon except that as the demon he "actually had the proportional strength of, uh...me."
- Sunnydale Syndrome: Interestingly Xander shows a version of this; when Buffy explains she was attacked by demons he says, "No! Not here!" and fires her to ensure this remains the case.
- Tastes Like Feet: Buffy has a "bleeh!" reaction every time she downs a shot. She does pick up a bottle of...Khalua? and drinks it straight; for a seasoned alcoholic that'd be tough especially if they don't like the taste, and the Slayer doesn't drink. It doesn't stop her.
- It appears she's not a teetotaler. In "Family," while at the Bronze, she and the other Scoobies look uncomfortably at their cups when Dawn says "only losers drink alcohol." (Although this calls into question the Bronze's serving policy when you remember the Scoobies were under 21 at that point - unless of course the Buffyverse never enacted the National Minimum Drinking Age Act of 1984.)
- Tempting Fate: Each act begins with Buffy saying "This is gonna be great!" It never is.
- The Triple: Drunk!Buffy after she 'defeats' the big red demon."He blew up. I like that, you know. Makes you feel all powerful. Strong. (looks ill) Kinda sick..."
- Unknown Rival: The Trio vs. the Slayer.
- The Un-Reveal: Buffy won't say what happened between her and Angel. Meanwhile over on the spin-off series, Angel is no more forthcoming.
- Visual Pun: In card games the betting pool is often referred to as "the kitty".
- Vomit Discretion ShotBuffy: I think at one point, I actually turned completely inside out.
- "Walk on the Wild Side" Episode: Comically subverted when Spike invites Buffy to try out The Dark Side and see how good it feels. She ends up sitting in the back room of a Bad-Guy Bar, getting drunk and snarking at her not-a-boyfriend as he gambles for kittens with Ambiguously Evil demons.