Buffy (without looking up): "Everybody started singing and dancing?"
Dawn (miffed that everyone already knows): "...I ...gave birth to a pterodactyl."
Anya: "Oh my god! Did it sing?"
Directed by Joss Whedon
Buffy is patrolling in a cemetery at night but notices something wrong with her and the demons and vamps she's fighting; they're all singing and dancing. Buffy sings about her life after returning to Earth and how she feels detached from it ('Going Through The Motions').
The next morning, the gang find out the same thing has happened to them all. They suddenly burst into song, first wondering what could be the cause ('I've Got A Theory/Bunnies') and then, guided by Buffy, their ability to deal with it together ('If We're Together'). They then learn that it's not just happening to them but the whole of Sunnydale are singing and dancing about their inner feelings ('The Mustard').
Later, Tara sings Willow a love song about the difference she's made in her life ('Under Your Spell'). Xander and Anya sing about things they would never have otherwise told each other, such as their worries over their upcoming marriage ('I'll Never Tell'). Spike sings to Buffy about the torturous nature of their relationship ('Rest In Peace').
Unfortunately, some people are singing and dancing so much that they spontaneously combust because of the dramatic release of their pent up emotions.
When Dawn gets home from school, Tara tells her that it looks like a demon is responsible for the forced singing in Sunnydale. Dawn mentions to Tara about her recent argument with Willow but Tara doesn't remember anything about it. She suddenly begins to worry that Willow may have cast a spell on her and rushes off to find out if her hunch is true. Meanwhile, Dawn is left alone and goes through her stash of stolen things. She wears a necklace stolen from the Magic Box but is kidnapped by minions of the demon, Sweet who interrupt her song ('Dawn's Lament').
When she wakes up at the Bronze, Dawn engages in interpretive dance with Sweet as a means of escape. Sweet tap dances as he sings and explains that he thinks Dawn is the one who summoned him and he wants to take her home and make her his queen. He explains that if the melodies go on too long, people will explode from the release of emotions ('How You Feel'). Dawn tells him that her sister is the Slayer which seems to please and not scare him. He tells his minions to bring Buffy to him so he can watch her burn.
Meanwhile, Buffy trains with Giles at the Magic Box in case she has to fight whatever is causing the singing. Giles asks if Buffy had spoken to Dawn about her misbehaviour on Halloween but Buffy replies that she thought he had sorted it. Giles realises that Buffy is dependent on him being around and sings (only heard to himself) that he cannot let Buffy become emotionally dependent on him and that he will leave for England for good ('Standing').
Tara looks up information on the bramble she found in her bed that morning which confirms it's used in spells to alter memory. Devastated that Willow would do such a thing to her, Tara decides she needs to end their relationship. Giles and Tara's songs merge into a duet about them leaving. They sing about how much it hurts to leave but know that they can't stay ('Under Your Spell/Standing').
However before either of them get the chance to bring the subject up, Spike arrives with one of Sweet's minions who reveals that Dawn has been kidnapped. Xander, Anya, Willow and Tara are eager to help Dawn but Giles insists Buffy must go alone. Spike dismisses Giles' stubborness and goes to back Buffy up. Buffy questions why he'd do that if he asked her to leave him alone. Spike skulks away, humiliated and tells Buffy that he hopes she burns with Dawn. Buffy leaves alone, once again singing about her inability to feel anything. Both a conflicted Spike and the Scoobies sing about their desire to fight alongside her ('Walk Through The Fire'). Arriving at the Bronze, Buffy sings and dances cynically about her current condition and the hardships of being a Slayer.
Buffy finally reveals to Sweet that, by resurrecting her, Buffy's friends had ripped her out of Heaven rather than rescue her from a hell dimension like they thought. The Scoobies react in horror, especially Willow and once Buffy has vocalised her anger and despair, she dances to the point of smoking in a somewhat suicidal bid. Spike arrives and comforts her, telling her to continue living ('Something To Sing About').
Applauding, Sweet prepares to leave with Dawn but it's revealed that it was Xander who had summoned him— not aware of his actions. This leads to Sweet telling Xander that he'll waive the clause for him to be his queen and goes back to Hell ('How You Feel [Reprise]'). As Sweet leaves, he points out that they've revealed their hidden feelings, none of them can claim it ended well. The fractured group sing of the victory they've achieved and what to do next ('Where Do We Go From Here').
The episode ends with Spike and Buffy kissing, as the curtains fall as predicted in the song's final verse.
This episode provides examples of:
- AcCENT upon the Wrong SylLABle: The episode cleverly exploits this for a double entendre. Imagine you're a censor reading a script in which a girl in bed with her lover sings the repeated line "you make me complete". Tame enough, right? Except that to fit the tune, the stress happens to fall on the first syllable of "complete"... This is also a musical example of Country Matters.
- Action Fashionista: Buffy assures Giles that she's not quaking in her stylish yet affordable boots over this latest weirdness.
- Affably Evil: Sweet. He never even engages in physical violence. On the other hand, he can cause people to catch on fire, bring whole cities to ruin, tries to marry 15-year-old Dawn — and still has time to get a soft shoe in.
- Affectionate Gesture to the Head: Spike strokes Buffy's hair during "Something To Sing About".
- Ain't Too Proud to Beg: Buffy asks Sweet to please, give me something to sing about! Sweet gleefully shakes his head in refusal. Buffy proceeds to dance wildly until she starts to burn up, only to be saved Just in Time by Spike.
- All There in the Script: Mr Sweet's name is never mentionned in the episode. When Buffy asks for his name, he pulls an I Have Many Names but doesn't divulge a single one of them.
- Ambiguous Situation: "Something to Sing About" can be read as either Sweet forcing Buffy to dance to death (that is his entire schtick) or as Buffy trying to commit suicide-by-demon. Spike saving her by stopping Buffy rather than attacking Sweet could be taken to suggest the latter.
- Armor-Piercing Question: "What did you sing about?" Although Buffy is only pierced for a moment before covering up again, she is noticeably shaken by Giles' question. (Her song, Going Through the Motions, was about the meaninglessness of her life since returning to life. Naturally she doesn't want to explain it to her friends.)
- Art Shift: This is the only episode shown in the US in 16x9 widescreen.
- Award-Bait Song: Parodied when Anya complains that her song with Xander will "never be a Breakaway Pop Hit". That would be reserved for Tara's "Under Your Spell".
- Badass Boast: Sweet gets an underplayed one during "What You Feel":"I can bring whole cities to ruin/And still have time to get a soft shoe in."
- Bad "Bad Acting": There's something a bit hammy about Xander's reaction to the news that everyone has started singing; it's only after The Reveal that he's behind it all that we discover why.
- The Bad Guy Wins: Sweet comes to Sunnydale on Xander's invocation, burns a bunch of people, and gets away without Buffy laying a single blow on him. As he sarcastically sings, they "beat him" but he leaves in triumph.
- Ballet Episode: Dawn performs a short ballet with her captors as she tries to escape their grasp.
- Be Careful What You Wish For:
- Xander summons the demon hoping to get the gang to reconnect again and be reassured about his upcoming marriage. He's not.
- When Dawn puts on the talisman, her desire for attention and to be treated like an adult leads to her being offered the position of Queen of Sweet's realm.
- Beethoven Was an Alien Spy: Sweet sings that he gave Nero his very first fiddle, implying that he's responsible for the Great Fire of Rome and the Temporal Paradox caused by introducing a musical instrument centuries before it was invented.
- Big Damn Heroes: Spike interrupts Buffy just as she's starting to burn up, with his song on why she has to go on living. In fact what happens next could plausibly be called a Rescue Romance.
- The Big Damn Kiss: Homaged with the kiss between Buffy and Spike, which, as it takes place at the end of a Musical Episode, is accompanied by swelling music and falling curtains. Lampshaded in the following episode:
- Bittersweet Ending: Dawn is safe and the demon has left Sunnydale, but all the Scoobies' dirty secrets are out in the open.The battle's done and we kind of won/so we sound our victory cheer/where do we go from here?
- Blatant Lies
- Blonde, Brunette, Redhead: Sweet's three minions are a subtle type of this trope. One is blond, one is brown-haired (brunette) and while the third also has brown hair, he is literally a "red-head."
- Bread, Eggs, Breaded EggsXander: It's a nightmare. It's a plague. It's like a nightmare about a plague!
- Breaking the Fourth Wall: "Something To Sing About"Buffy: "It's alright if some things come out wrong / We'll sing a happy song" (looks at camera) "And you can sing along"
- Sweet also looks at the camera during his Villain Song, as does Buffy during "Walk Through the Fire".
- Willow's line in "Walk Through The Fire", "I think this line's mostly filler."
- Anya's blink-and-you'll-miss-it line "Like there were only three walls, and not a fourth wall."
- Buffy Speak: Willow and Tara have a get-a-roominess about them when they go looking for the volume-y text. Spike is acting all bad-moody.
- Butt-Dialing Mordor: Xander brings the singing demon Sweet to Sunnydale through a talisman. He thought it was just a spell to bring "dances and songs," not realizing that Sweet would kill people.
- Willow's theory, "Some kid is dreaming, and we're all stuck inside his wacky Broadway nightmare," is the plot of a much earlier episode if you leave out the "Broadway" part.
- "His penis got diseases from a Chumash tribe!" is from "Pangs", when Xander was cursed with syphilis, and all the other diseases that Europeans gave to the Chumash, by a vengeful Native American spirit after falling into an old mission.
- Tara singing "You know I've been through hell" is a reference to Glory driving Tara insane with her Mind Rape in "Tough Love". It could also be a reference to Tara's gaslighting and abusive family revealed in "Family".
- Cannot Spit It Out: Subverted. Several "Can't Spit It Out" plot threads that could have been milked for weeks, if not seasons, are dragged into the open by Sweet's musical curse.
- Can't Believe I Said That:Spike: So that's it? You've just come to pump me for information?Buffy: What else would I want to pump you for? [Beat] I really just said that, didn't I?
- Can't Live with Them, Can't Live without Them: Spike re Buffy. "I hope she fries / I'm free if that bitch dies / I'd better help her out" and "First he'll kill her, then I'll save her / No, I'll save her, then I'll kill her!"
- Cerebus Syndrome: Tara's "Everything is turning out so dark" verse in "Walk through the Fire".
- Chirping Crickets: Heard during the Scooby Gang's silent response to Anya's theory that bunnies are responsible.
- Clueless Chick-Magnet: Gender-inverted in Tara's case; her family kept putting her down so much that she doesn't realize she is pretty enough that some random guys would be checking her out.
- The Coats Are Off: Buffy slips off her coat for her final dance/battle with Sweet.
- Comically Missing the PointDawn: Oh. My. God. You will never believe what happened at school today.Buffy: Everybody started singing and dancing?Dawn: (sourly) I gave birth to a pterodactyl.Anya: Oh my God, did it sing?
- Continuity Nod:
- Buffy turns down the offer of a drink from Spike, remembering her hangover in "Life Serial".
- Conversation Cut: Tara and Willow in the middle of "Under Your Spell" move from the park to their bedroom.
- Costume Porn: The amazing dresses that Tara (with a corset) and Willow are just wearing for no reason other than being Wiccans, and the ballgown Sweet gives Dawn. Anya's red lingerie (which comes with matching heeled slippers) may also count. Xander's taken to wearing flashy silk pajamas, too. Navy, with aqua piping.
- Counterpoint Duet: The combination reprise of "Under Your Spell" and "Standing". Not to mention Spike and Buffy in the "Coda".
- The last few parts of "What You Feel".
- Cower Power: When things get tough, he / Just hides behind his Buffy.
- Crapsaccharine World: The World According to Buffy in "Give Me Something to Sing About":Buffy: Where there's life there's hope / Every day's a gift / Wishes can come true / Whistle while you work
- Creator Cameo: Writer David Fury is the guy starring in "The Mustard Song", and writer Marti Noxon is the lady lamenting her parking ticket.
- Credits Gag: The episode opens with altered credits, with a peppy orchestral version of the theme tune playing over characters' faces appearing on the moon while their names appear underneath. Even the Mutant Enemy monster sings.
- Creepy Ballet: Dawn has to escape the musical-inducing demon through a contemporary ballet sequence. She fails, because they are that powerful.
- Crowd Song: Parodied. "They got...the mustaaard...oooooooouuuuut!"
- Cue the Sun: Tara steps into the sunlight during her line, Now I'm bathed in light during "Under Your Spell".
- Cure Your Gays: Conversed. "Oh my God, I'm cured! I want the boys!"
- Dance Battler: Buffy fighting demons whenever she's singing. Dawn in her struggle to escape the puppet minions after waking up in the Bronze.
- Dance of Despair: When she's asked by Sweet what she thinks about life, Buffy sings a pessimistic song about its meaning ("Something to Sing About"). Willow reacts with horror at finding out what Buffy's done. Buffy stops singing and starts to dance so frenetically that she begins to smoke and nearly ignites and burns.
- Dark Reprise: "Under Your Spell". Parts of "Going Through the Motions" and "I've Got a Theory" can also be heard on "Walk Through The Fire".
- The Day the Music Lied: Spike hauls in one of Sweet's puppet minions and orders him to "sing". There's a grand orchestral swell and the Scoobies wait for the minion to burst into song... then he just speaks in a monotone.
- Death Glare: Anya and Xander do a lot after their duet. Tara can be seen glaring at Willow in the background:Anya: Beady Eyes is right, we're needed! / Or we could just sit around and glare.
- Death Seeker: Buffy nearly dies because of her indifference to life. In a Dramatic Irony she's saved by Spike, who'd said in "Fool for Love" that on the day her death wish outweighed her will to live he'd be the one to kill her.
- Designated Victim: Lampshaded with the quotable line:Buffy: Dawn's in trouble. Must be Tuesday.
- Which, since the show was broadcast on Tuesdays in the US, was also an example of Leaning on the Fourth Wall.
- Dodge the Throwing Knife: During "Standing", Giles throws knives at Buffy during her training, which she dodges or knocks out of the way.
- Diegetic Musical: A demon's influence on the characters forces the characters to express their innermost feelings in song, all of which are In-Universe.
- Giles comments that when he was singing alone, there was accompanying backup music from an unidentifiable source, meaning that the music exists in universe, not just the singing.
- Distressed Dude: Lampshaded in "Going Through the Motions", where Buffy rescues a tied-up young man with a distinct resemblance to Fabio, then brushes him off:
- Double Entendre:
- The song with Xander and Anya have a few: "You're the cutest of the Scoobies with your lips as red as rubies and your firm yet supple... tight embrace".
- "[Buffy] needs backup. Anya, Tara." They both hurry to take their places... as backup singers.
- Dramatic Irony: "Under Your Spell" is a beautiful love song. The only problem? As the audience knows, Tara literally is under Willow's spell, so the whole song becomes rather uncomfortable. When Tara realises this, she sings the Dark Reprise.
- Dramatic Shattering: Spike hurling his bottle of booze against the wall during "Rest in Peace", causing Buffy to jump to her feet in alarm.
- Dynamic Entry: Buffy kicks the door to the Bronze off its hinges, causing Sweet to quip, "I love a good entrance".
- Eating the Eye Candy: When Xander confesses that he summoned Sweet and asks if he needs to be the latter's queen, Sweet takes a moment to study him. After gazing from top to bottom, Sweet admits that it's a tempting offer.
- The End: It goes with the curtains.
- Everybody Hates Mathematics:Dawn: It seemed cooler when we were singing about it.
- Everything's Better with Sparkles: Willow and Tara during "Under Your Spell". Tara produces a shower of magic sparkles, then when she things of how much brighter Willow's power is, Willow produces a more elaborate shower of sparkles.
- Evil Gloating: Sweet mockingly congratulates them on having "beat the bad guy" by saving Dawn, but then gloats about all the ugly secrets the Scoobies have been forced to reveal.
- Feet-First Introduction: When Sweet meets Dawn — justified as the demon is wearing tap-dancing shoes which he puts to use right away.
- Finding Judas: What villain called up the unbeatable, lethal, musical demon, and what dark scheme were they plotting? Xander Harris, and he just wanted a musical-comedy ending to his marital woes and the tension eating away at the Scooby Gang.
- Flower Motifs: Tara finds a sprig under her pillow and smiles at what seems to be a romantic gesture from Willow. But she later looks up the plant after Dawn referencing an argument with Willow she doesn't remember makes her suspicious and finds it's called Lethe's Bramble, used in spells of forgetting and mind control. In Greek mythology Lethe is the river of forgetfulness in Hades, and a bramble is known for its tangled, prickly stems.
- Forbidden Fruit: During "Rest In Peace", Buffy looks guilty when Spike accuses her of toying with the idea of 'misbehaving' with him.
- In the Title Sequence all the Scoobies are smiling except for Dawn, the Damsel in Distress for this episode.
- A dancing demon / No, something isn't right there. Sure about that, Giles?
- Sweet isn't afraid of the Slayer but does leave after Willow threatens him, sensing her power.
- The songs foretell Xander/Anya and Willow/Tara breaking up, Giles leaving, and the tumultuous Spike/Buffy relationship.
- The curtains close on a kiss, God knows / we can tell that the end is near. The final scene is curtains closing on Spike and Buffy's Big Damn Kiss. Buffy sings just before, This isn't real / but I just want to feel which is a major problem in their upcoming Destructive Romance; Buffy is suffering from the Hellmouth version of major depressive disorder, desperate to feel anything, and the pain and lust and self-loathing she gets when she's with Spike is better than nothing.
- "Coda" itself tries to be a duet between two songs that don't fit together at all, lyrically or musically, also foreshadowing how bad Buffy and Spike are for each other.
- A Form You Are Comfortable With: Buffy is trying to draw her vision of the afterlife/Heaven from when she was dead. However, her limited human perception only allows her to remember the classic "white light" surrounded by darkness.
- Funny Background Event:
- People singing and dancing while Xander, Anya and Giles are walking down the street.
- A Throw It In moment is a nearly off-screen Tara bumping into a pillar during the Summon Backup Dancers gag (It happens near the end of the line "and every single verse", and in the next shot, "can make it that much worse", you can see Amber Benson starting to corpse and she ducks behind the pillar to get out of the shot.)
- Gag Echo: During the "I'll Never Tell" number Xander sings "[Anya's] toes are kind of hairy" and Anya sings "his eyes are beady". In the next scene when ranting about the situation both of them shout at the same time "my eyes are not beady"/"my toes aren't hairy".
- And later on Anya says, "Beady Eyes is right!"
- Gallows Humor: From Buffy. "It's do or die" / "Hey, I've died twice." and "I'm pretty spry for a corpse."
- Genre Roulette: We get a jaunty '50s sitcom version of the theme song, the Disney-esque "Going Through the Motions", the hard-rock "Bunnies" and "Rest in Peace", the contemporary pop song "Under Your Spell", the classic musical pastiche "I'll Never Tell", the jazzy "What You Feel", the ballad "Standing", the soft rock "Walk Through the Fire", the genre shifting "Something to Sing About" and the classic Hollywood musical ending "Where Do We Go From Here".
- Grand Staircase Entrance: A minor version — Sweet's Feet-First Introduction on meeting Dawn has him dancing down a small set of steps leading from the Bronze stage.
- Hair-Raising Hare: Anya exposes the true nature of those twitchy-nosed terrors in "The Bunny Song".
- Hammerspace: Sweet seems to be able to bring scrolls and doors from nowhere; justified as he's using magic.
- Helping Would Be Kill Stealing: Giles's song "Standing" is basically how he's been doing the opposite of this trope for too long, and now he needs to start playing it straight so Buffy can grow. Also the rationale behind him initially insisting that Buffy tackle Sweet on her own, although he's later convinced by Anya and Xander that the Scoobies should go back her up.
- Hidden Depths: Xander and Anya are revealed to be good dancers as they engage in a fast medley that ends in a slow waltz.
- Holding Hands: Subverted in "Where Do We Go From Here" when the Scoobies all join hands, then break apart, foreshadowing their Breaking the Fellowship later in the season.Understand we'll go hand in hand / But we'll walk alone in fear
- Homoerotic Subtext: When Xander is revealed as the man who summoned Sweet, he fears that he'll be taken away as Sweet's queen. Sweet eyes him and sarcastically says, "It's tempting... but I think we'll waive that clause just this once."
- Hong Kong Dub: Sometimes, the lip synching can be a bit off. Often, the singers may loudly belt out the lyrics, but the on screen actors' mouths don't move nearly as much as they should.
- Hypocritical Humor: Spike's "Rest in Peace" is all about how he wishes Buffy would get the hell away from him as his unrequited feelings for her are tearing him up. When Buffy flees at the end of the song, Spike calls out pitiably, "So, you're not staying then?"
- Hypocritical Singing: Anya and Xander's "I'll Never Tell." And Spike's "Rest In Peace" is a variation. He sings of wanting Buffy to leave him alone, but he wants the exact opposite of that.
- "I Am" Song: "What You Feel" is the this as well as being a Villain Song, since its an upbeat tune about how Sweet's a demon who destroys whole towns through cheery music.
- I Can't Believe a Guy Like You Would Notice Me: I'm under your spell / how else could it be / anyone would notice me?
- I Have Many Names: The Monster of the Week (unnamed in the episode, but called Sweet in the credits)Buffy: "You got a name?"Sweet: (shrugs) "I've got a hundred."
- I Have You Now, My Pretty: Sweet plans to take Dawn away to the underworld and make her his Queen.
- I Have Your Wife: I Have Your Little Sister. Sweet makes no secret that he's holding Dawn, even sending his minions to tell Buffy about it so she'll come and rescue her. For once, the Villain of the Week's confidence is not misplaced.
- Idiot Ball: It turns out that the whole reason people are stuck acting like they're in a musical, and worse, people are literally dancing themselves to death, is because Xander found Sweet's talisman and decided that what his emotional friends needed was a demon to come to town and force everyone to sing and dance. Xander summoned a demon to make everyone happy. While on one hand using magic to force everything to work out in the end is in keeping with the wedding-related anxieties Xander's been repressing throughout the season, on the other hand he's seen enough spells go awry to know better by now and it's painfully obvious that it only happened because Joss needed someone to do it, especially since the gang barely react to Xander being responsible and never bring it up in future episodes.
- Ignore the Fanservice: Feeling apathetic at the beginning of the episode, Buffy barely glances at the open-shirted hunk who's eager to show his gratitude for Buffy saving his life from being a demonic sacrifice.
- I'll Never Tell You What I'm Telling You!: Heroic version. Anya and Xander's song "I'll Never Tell" is one long string of these, and Buffy is later forced to reveal she was in Heaven during her temporary death. This is the result of a demon compelling them to sing the truth.
- Incredibly Long NoteThey got / the mustard / ouuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuut!
- Instant Costume Change: Sweet has this power, changing his clothes from red to blue in an instant, and Dawn's clothes to her ball gown.
- Internal Reveal: Under Sweet's influence, Buffy confesses to the other Scoobies what the audience (and Spike) has known since "After Life": that they didn't save her from Hell, but pulled her out of Heaven.Buffy: "There was no pain/No fear, no doubt/Till they pulled me out/Of Heaven/So that's my refrain/I live in Hell/'Cause I've been expelled/From Heaven/I think I was in Heaven/So give me something to sing about/Please give me something."
- Invisible Backup Band: "That would explain the huge backing orchestra I couldn't see and the synchronised dancing from the room service chaps."
- Involuntary Dance: Not only those singing, but people nearby are often caught up as backup dancers.
- Ironic Echo:
- "What can't we face if we're together?"
- Dawn tells Buffy, "The hardest thing in this world is to live in it", a repeat of Buffy's line to Dawn in the previous season finale.
- "Let it burn" are the final words Buffy speaks in "Innocence". Joyce tells her to blow out the candle and make a wish for her 17th birthday. Buffy, in despair over how her One True Love has turned evil, replies, "I'll just let it burn."
- "I Want" Song: "Going Through the Motions". Joss even mentions it being the "I Want" Song in the DVD Commentary.
- Buffy actually gets TWO "I Wants": this one and "Something to Sing About".
- Spike's "Rest in Peace" is a subversion. What he wants is Buffy, but he goes through the entire song trying (badly) to convince us he has no interest in her.
- Also spoofed with Dawn, a character who seems tailor-made for this type of song since she's always really needy anyway. She gets through the first two lines of her song before it's interrupted by mooks who promptly kidnap her.
- Jail Bait Taboo:Dawn: What I mean / I'm fifteen / So this "queen" thing's illegal!
- Karma Houdini: The Monster of the Week comes to town, kills several people through spontaneous combustion, makes the Scoobies reveal a bunch of secrets about themselves, nearly kills Buffy and leaves town without getting a scratch on him. The only reason he's even "beaten" is that he learns it was Xander, not Dawn, who summoned him and he doesn't fancy making Xander his queen, so he just up and leaves; Buffy never defeats or even engages him in combat.
- Also, Xander, who caused the entire thing through ignorance about musical demons.
- Killed Mid-Sentence: The demon Buffy kills during "Going Through the Motions" dies this way.Demon: She's not even half the girl she...(looks down at wound) OW...(collapses)
- Lampshaded Double Entendre: Tara gives Willow a coy look while singing "I can feel you inside".
- Large Ham: Most of the cast release their inner hams during their musical numbers (except Alyson Hannigan, who spends most of the episode looking profoundly uncomfortable, as she was apparently less than enthused by the musical idea - which would explain why she's the only one who doesn't get a solo number or a duet). James Marsters in particular appears to be having way too much fun.
- Fridge Brilliance, of course; Willow was established as having chronic stage fright and being uncomfortable with singing as early as the first season. On the other hand: When Alyson mimed to the "mustard song" between takes, she definitely hammed up to eleven.
- Last-Second Word Swap:Xander: Willow and Tara? You see the way they were with each other? The get-a-roominess of them? I'll bet they're (realises Dawn is there) ... singing. They're probably singing right now.
- Let's Duet: Xander and Anya in "I'll Never Tell".
- Lonely Piano Piece: The bridge of "Something To Sing About".
- Lingerie Scene: Anya in red underwear for "I'll Never Tell".
- Lipstick Lesbian: Lampshaded by Willow when Tara pretends she's interested in boys now."Do I have to fight to keep you? 'Cause I'm not large with the butch."
- Loophole Abuse: Sweet was going to take Dawn as his queen since he assumed that she summoned him to town. Xander then reveals that he did it, and asks if Sweet is going to make him queen. Sweet considers for a moment but lets it slide on the grounds that Xander is a guy.
- Love Cannot Overcome: Tara still loves Willow, but is horrified on realizing that Willow wiped her memory, and doesn't know if her girlfriend has done it before. She says, "I can't adjust to this disgust; we're done!"
- Love Confession: Tara's song to Willow "Under Your Spell". Also subverted in that Tara is unaware that she is literally under Willow's spell, and that her discovery of this fact will cause them to break up.
- Lyrical Dissonance: "I'll Never Tell". And "Under Your Spell" is a sneaky example - the lyrics are just as happy as the tune, but Tara doesn't know she is literally under Willow's spell.
- Also, subtly, at the end of "I've Got A Theory"; Buffy is singing about how it doesn't matter, and she doesn't care, while making it sound like a rallying cry for the group.
- Magic Music: Sweet causes life in the entire town to be a musical. Doesn't seem too bad, until it's revealed you uncontrollably spill your deepest secrets in songs sooner or later. And sooner or later, you will dance and sing yourself into a fiery death when you run out of lyrics (the demon is stopped before more than a handful of Sunnydalians burn). Relatedly, the demon claims to have given a certain Roman emperor "his very first fiddle", thus also dovetailing with the trope.
- Man of Wealth and Taste: Sweet wears a snazzy zoot suit.
- Massive Multiplayer Ensemble Number: "Walk Through the Fire" and "Where Do We Go From Here?"
- Melancholy Musical Number:
- "Dawn's Lament" is about her lamenting about her sadness because nobody is noticing her and the things she has been doing (shoplifting), but the song is cut short as she is kidnapped by the demon Sweet's henchmen.
- In "Under Your Spell/Standing", Tara is singing about Willow using a spell to erase the memory about the fight they had about Willow using too much magic, and Giles is singing about having to leave Buffy, but he wants to still be her watcher, and the two don't want to leave but have to, and are both upset about it.
- Miniscule Rocking: "They Got the Mustard Out".
- The Modest Orgasm: Tara becoming "complete".
- Mood Whiplash:
- Dawn points out that technically singing isn't harmful. Then we see some people spontaneously combust.
- Played for Laughs when the exuberance of the Mustard song is cut off by Buffy shutting the door on them.
- Events in Tara and Willow's bedroom Smash Cut to the Magic Box before it all gets too raunchy for television.
- Dawn starts to sing in front of the mirror, then suddenly has a Bag of Kidnapping thrown over her head by Sweet's minions.
- Buffy is dancing madly, on the verge of bursting into flame, when Spike suddenly grabs her out of nowhere, gently finishing the song she was singing earlier with his own lyrics.
- Mundane Made Awesome: "The Mustard" is about someone glad that the drycleaners cleaned the mustard he dropped on his shirt, and "The Parking Ticket" is about a woman's excuses why she shouldn't get a parking ticket.
- Musical Episode: The episode bizarrely sends up the musical genre (and its respective subgenres) as a whole, musical and dance genres from rock to ballet, and (in typical Joss Whedon fashion) the series itself with wicked glee, yet also manages to fit plot and Character Development in as well and come up with a plausible (for Buffy) explanation for why everyone's singing.
- Musicalis Interruptus:
- "Dawn's Lament" gets cut off after two lines when she's shoved into a Bag of Kidnapping.
- Sweet's Villain Song stops literally in mid-dance (with one leg raised in a high-step) when Dawn reveals her sister is the Slayer.
- Sweet's minion gets a big instrumental intro — and then he speaks rather than sings.
- Anya interrupts Xander (during "I'll Never Tell") and Tara (during "I've Got A Theory" to sing "The Bunny Song").
- Music for Courage: "If We're Together" — subverted as Buffy is actually singing of her indifference to what happens.
- The Music Meister: Upon Sweet's arrival in Sunnydale, everyone in town begins breaking into musical numbers. While this seems harmless enough, the songs are always brutally honest ones that reveal people's deepest secrets, which sows discord among the populace. They also cause certain victims to spontaneously combust if it gets to be too much for them.
- Musical Assassin: Sweet can use his singing to make people dance to the point where they caught fire.
- My Eyes Are Up Here: The "I'll Never Tell" number has Anya in a bra and petticoat, where Xander says he loves her "firm yet supple...tight embrace" and takes his eyes off her chest after a stern look.
- My God, What Have I Done?: The look on Willow's face when she found out Buffy was pulled out of Heaven.
- My Significance Sense Is Tingling: Some of Under Your Spell's lyrics imply that Tara is aware that what she's feeling is unnatural, she's just powerless against it.
- Mythology Gag: Giles throwing knives at Buffy in the training room - a Shout-Out to how Merrick showed her she was the Slayer in The Movie.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: As it turns out, Xander was the one who summoned Sweet to Sunnydale, seeking a musical-comedy ending to his marital woes and the tension eating away at the Scooby Gang.
- No Fourth Wall: Stated as a joke by Anya: "It was like we were being watched. Like there was a wall missing from our apartment. Like there were only three walls, and not a fourth wall."
- No Song for the Wicked: There are some fans who would undoubtedly have loved a Villain Song by the Trio. The writers surely could have come up with something good, and of course, the actors were all guest stars who were probably completely available for an episode that season. No doubt, though, it would have been too difficult and involved sacrificing too much of the screen time used for other stuff, to rewrite the episode in such a way that it included the Trio. But the magical effect that caused everyone to burst into song was operating throughout Sunnydale, so of course, there must have been some such song that happened off-screen, which was not recorded by the TV show but that's exactly the kind of thing Fan Fiction is for...
- Noodle Incident: There were a lot of singing incidents that never got explained.
Anya: I've seen some of these Underworld child bride deals and they never turn out well. (pause) Maybe once.
- And this:
- Not Himself: Buffy wonders why Spike is trying to hustle her out of his crypt. Then he starts singing.
- Offscreen Moment of Awesome: Willow and Tara's duet about dishwashing, Xander and Anya's dance with coconuts and Giles singing and playing his guitar in the hotel. The room service chaps joined in on that one.
- Oh, Crap!:
- Subverted when Dawn tries to frighten Sweet by telling him her sister is The Slayer. There's an immediate Musicalis Interruptus, but Sweet is eager to see Buffy burn, causing Dawn to have the Oh, Crap! moment instead.
- Spike when he starts singing to Buffy.
- Minor version: While singing his part of "Walk Through the Fire," Spike jumps a fence, into a blind alley.
- Buffy sings that, instead of pulling her out of Hell, Willow and the gang pulled her out of Heaven. Cue look on Willow's face when she realizes this.
- Oh, My Gods!: Xander exclaims, "Merciful Zeus!" when he's pretending to be surprised at what's happening. Then again, he might really be surprised, if he thought the spell would only affect him and Anya.
- Of Corsets Sexy: Tara. No wonder those boys were checking her out.
- The Oner: The filming of the song "The Parking Ticket" was done in a single shot. The camera starts on Giles, Xander and Anya, then pans over to Marti Noxon singing before rejoining the Scoobies' conversation.
- Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Anthony Stewart Head's standard Giles accent (which is Received Pronunciation, aka RP, Posh or "Queen's English") drains away throughout his line "That would explain the huge backing orchestra I couldn't see and the synchronised dancing from the room service chaps," leaving only his real, London accent when he asks Buffy "What did you sing about?"
- Open the Door and See All the People: Subverted when Buffy has an entirely deadpan reaction to the Crowd Song outside.
- Parental Substitute: In "Standing In Your Way" Giles acknowledges that he wants to take on this role re Buffy, but rejects it because he's become her Living Emotional Crutch.
- Peek-a-Boo Corpse: During the Villain Song, Sweet opens a door that magically appears from above, and the charred remains of one of his victims falls out.
- Pet the Dog: The only decent thing Sweet does is waive the clause about Xander having to be his queen and stay with him forever in the Underworld, despite Sweet admitting "It's tempting".
- Play-Along Prisoner: The puppet minion Spike captures easily breaks free of his grip after delivering Sweet's message to Buffy.
- Potty Emergency: In the opening scene, Dawn waits impatiently outside the toilet until Willow has finished, showing one of the downsides of four women living in a house with apparently only one bathroom.
- The Power of Friendship: "If We're Together".
- The Power of Rock: Everything happens according to the Power of Showtunes.
- Power Walk: "Walk Through the Fire"
- Precision P-Strike: From 15-year old Dawn, no less.She'll get pissed / If I'm missed / See, my sister's the Slayer.
- Pun: Plenty — "Nothing seems to penetrate my heart" (as Buffy stakes a vamp), "It's do or die / Hey I've died twice." "I guarantee you a great big smile" (Sweet removes his mouth and offers it to Dawn). "I'm here strictly by your invocation." "She came from the grave much graver." "She needs backup!" "Not quite the fireworks I was looking for."
- Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: "They got. The mustard. OOOOOOOOOUUUUUUUUUT!" The musical cadence and crescendo forced him into it, but it counts.
- Punctuated Pounding: Buffy killing Sweet's puppet minions.Where there's life [grabs pool cue from minion, hits him] There's hope / Every day's [elbows second minion] A gift / Wishes can [kick] Come true / Whistle while [punch] / You work [blow with pool cue] / So hard [blow] All day [throws pool cue, impales third minion]
- Pyrrhic Victory: Sweet leaves of his own accord, so the killings stop. He also leaves the Scoobies a divided mess, leading to the breakups of all the couples in the group and to Giles' departure. Spike may have even saved the day with a Big Damn Kiss reward, but he and Buffy are still no more compatible than they were before.
- Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil: While never directly brought up, Willow modifying Tara's memory does bring up questions about the latter's ability to consent to their sex scene
- Reality Warper: Sweet's ability to make everyone in a large radius behave as in a musical, the alterations of wardrobe, the instant door, can all be explained if this his actual ability.
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Xander and Anya alternate giving each other these during "I'll Never Tell".Anya: He snores.
Xander: She wheezes.
Anya: Say housework and he freezes.
Xander: She eats these skeezy cheeses that I can't describe.
Anya: I talk, he breezes.
Xander: She doesn't know what "please" is.
Anya: His penis got diseases from a Chumash tribe!
Anya: When things get rough, he/Just hides behind his Buffy/Now see he's getting huffy 'cause he knows that I know
Xander: She clings, she's needy/She's also really greedy\She ne-
Anya: His eyes are beady!
Xander: This is my verse, hello?
- Retraux: The Title Sequence and The End.
- Rescue Sex: Spoofed during Buffy's "Going Through the Motions" song.Buffy: Will I stay this way forever. Sleep walk through my life's endeavour...[frees a hot guy who was tied to a tree by demons]Sexy Open Shirt Bystander: How can I repayBuffy: [walks away uninterested] Whatever...
- Riddle for the Ages: What Tara's theory was going to be in "I've Got a Theory" before Anya interrupted her by performing "Bunnies".
- Ring-Ring-CRUNCH!: Averted; Buffy is so filled with ennui she just picks up her alarm clock and stares at it, letting it ring.
- Rule of Symbolism: In the opening sequence Buffy is sketching, filling in the entire pad with black. Depressed, anyone? She might be trying to sketch out what she saw in Heaven (a white light in a field of black), but can only express it in a human perceivable way.
- Rule of Cool: A funeral is being held at night so we can have a scene with Spike rocking on top of a coffin.
- Sarcasm Failure: Dawn says that she gave birth to a pterodactyl at school. Anya takes it seriously (and in this town, why shouldn't she).
- Saying Too Much: Dawn tells Tara that she is glad Willow and Tara made up after their fight, which Tara doesn't remember having. After Dawn's insistence, Tara begins to suspect what the flower under Willow's pillow meant: Willow performed magic on her.
- Screw the War, We're Partying: Inspired by the lovely weather and all the singing and dancing, Willow and Tara make an excuse to Get a Room!.
- Screw This, I'm Outta Here: When all of the Scoobies are sequence-dancing their "victory cheer" after Sweet's departure, Spike breaks off exclaiming "Bugger this!" and leaves.
- Sealed with a Kiss: The episode ends on Buffy and Spike kissing.
- See You in Hell: Sweet does this through song as he returns to the underworld.
- What a lot of fun / You guys have been real swell / And there's not a one / Who can say this ended well.
All those secrets you've been concealing / Say you're happy now / Once more with feeling.
Now I gotta run / See you all... (turns into a ball of light that swirls around their heads, leaving a sparkly trail) ...in heeeeeeell!
- Selective Obliviousness: Giles sings "Standing" to Buffy, but she doesn't hear a word of it.
- Serenade Your Lover: "Under Your Spell", subverted in that the audience knows Tara literally is under Willow's spell. "Rest in Peace" starts off this way, causing Buffy to roll her eyes in anticipation, but it's averted when Spike instead sings of his frustration with Buffy's Master of the Mixed Message response to his feelings. Ironically, Spike is giving off equally mixed messages in the song.
- Shout-Out: To a number of musicals, appropriately.Everyone: "We are caught in the fire / the point of no return . . ."Spike: "The day you suss out what you do want, there'll probably be a parade. Seventy-six bloody trombones."
- Also, that shot through the vampire dust during "Going Through the Motions" is lifted right out of "Part of Your World".
- At the end of "I'll Never Tell", Xander and Anya collapse onto a couch laughing.
- Sweet quips "That's entertainment!" after watching someone dance himself to death.
- The consequences of concealing truth, spontaneous combustion, is an allusion to Bleak House, where characters also face immolation for being deceitful.
- Shutting Up Now:Xander: It could be witches, some evil witches [Death Glare from Willow & Tara] Which is ridiculous 'cause witches they were persecuted / Wicca good and love the earth and women power and I'll be over here.
- Silence, You Fool!Giles: Spike, if I want your opinion... (looks at him in contempt) I'll never want your opinion.
- Slouch of Villainy: Sweet and Dawn are seated on comfy chairs on the stage when Buffy enters the Bronze. Sweet is slouching with a leg over the armrest, while Dawn is upright next to him in the mock 'Queen' position.
- Smash Cut:
- Something Else Also Rises: The end of "Under your Spell". Also implied by Spike in the next episode when referring to The Big Damn Kiss."We kissed, you and me, all Gone With the Wind with the rising music and the rising...music."
- The Song Before the Storm: "Walk Through the Fire" as the Scoobies approach the final confrontation with Sweet.
- Suspiciously Specific Denial: The headlines of Xander's newspaper.MAYHEM CAUSED. MONSTERS CERTAINLY NOT INVOLVED, OFFICIALS SAY.
- Special Edition Title: A mellowed version of the theme song playing over a shot of the night sky, with each actor's face appearing on the moon as he or she was listed in standard credits order.
- Spontaneous Choreography
- Spontaneous Human Combustion: A side-effect of Sweet's power, and what he hopes will happen to Buffy.
- Stringing the Hopeless Suitor Along: Spike's song "(Let Me) Rest in Peace" is about his suspicions that Buffy is only stringing him along, exploiting his feelings for her so that she can feel desired.
- Subverted Rhyme Every Occasion: There's an intentional example in "Walk Through The Fire", where the line "and let it burn" is always cut off before "burn" until the last verse.So I will walk through the fire'Cause where else can I turn?I will walk through the fire, and let it—
- Suggestive Collision: At the end of Spike's "Rest in Peace" song, Buffy hauls him off a priest he attacks and they fall into an open grave. Buffy lies on top of Spike wide-eyed before getting to her feet and fleeing.
- Summon Backup Dancers
- While singing "Under Your Spell" Tara passes near two other girls resting by the pond who are compelled to rise to their feet and start dancing behind her.
- Parodied in "Something to Sing About."Giles: "She needs backup. Anya, Tara." (Anya and Tara get behind Buffy and start dancing and humming as a backup chorus)
- Take Me Instead:
Buffy: Deal's this. I can't kill you, you take me to Hellsville in her place.
- Buffy offers herself in Dawn's stead. Not quite the Heroic Sacrifice as Buffy doesn't care any more if she dies.
Sweet: (scoffs) What if I kill you?
Buffy: (deadpan) Trust me. Won't help.
- Likewise, Xander fesses up that he summoned Sweet so that Dawn won't have to go with the demon. He seems nervous if willing to go in her place, though Sweet waives the clause.
- Talk to the Fist: Buffy stabs a demon halfway through his line, coincidentally making it rhyme.Going through the motions / faking it somehow.She's not even half the girl she—owww...
- Tempting Fate: It's Dawn's turn to violate this principle."Yes, the fifteen year-old can spend half an hour alone in her locked house." (Cue abduction by Puppet Minions)
- Spike says that happily, he remains unaffected. Moments later, he starts singing.
- That Came Out Wrong / Can't Believe I Said ThatSpike: "Oh, so, that's all. You've just come to pump me for information."Buffy: "What else would I wanna pump you for?" (beat) "I really just said that, didn't I?"
- Think Nothing of It: Spike saves Buffy's life. Buffy runs after him, so Spike says she doesn't have to say anything. As they're in a Musical Episode, she sings it instead. Followed by The Big Damn Kiss.
- This Is Something He's Got to Do Himself: Giles insists that Buffy save Dawn on her own as she is becoming too dependent on his support. Buffy however just sees herself as being abandoned by the others, and Giles later changes his mind anyway.
- Title Drop: Keep in mind that this and "Conversations With Dead People" are the only BTVS episodes where the title is shown in the opening. note Demon: All those secrets you've been concealing / Say you're happy now / Once more with feeling.
- Too Dumb to Live: Lampshaded when Xander reads a newspaper with the headline "Mayhem Caused: Monsters certainly not involved, officials say."
- Training Montage: Lampshaded when Buffy and Giles are training (averted when Giles sings "Standing" - a classic rock ballad - instead).Buffy: I'm just worried this whole session's gonna turn into some training montage from an '80s movie.Giles: Well, if we hear any inspirational power chords, we'll just lie down until they go away.
- Trashcan Bonfire: During the "Walk Through the Fire" song, Buffy holds her hand up to a trashcan bonfire when singing "I touch the fire and it freezes me."
- The Trouble with Tickets: A Funny Foreground Event is a lady (played by Marti Noxon) singing her excuses to a traffic cop.It isn't right, it isn't fair / There was no parking anywhere / I think that hydrant wasn't there.
- The Unreveal: We'll never know what Tara's theory was because Anya starts singing about "Bunnies".
- This Is Unforgivable!: Tara's reaction when she finds Willow has been tampering with her memories. Apart from bringing back memories of Glory's Mind Rape, she has no way of knowing if this was only a one-off occurrence.
- The Unfought: By the end the Scoobies are united against Sweet, and a threat from Willow seems to give him a moment of Sensing You Are Outmatched. But more importantly, his only goal in coming to Sunnydale was to sow chaos For the Evulz. By the time the heroes are ready to face him, he has done everything he wanted and had fun doing it. After a smug reprise of "What You Feel", the show's over, so (like the performer he is) he decides to bow out. He applauds them for "winning" this Pyrrhic Victory and is never seen again.Sweet: Big smiles, everyone! [sarcastically] You beat the bad guy!
- Unusually Uninteresting Sight:
- Villain Song: "What You Feel".
- Villain Reveals the Secret: Or in this case, uses his powers to make everyone else do so.
- Villain Teleportation: The moment Dawn puts on the talisman she stole from the Magic Shop, Sweet's minions appear in her bedroom and abduct her.
- Violence is the Only Option: Disturbed over the effect this singing is having on his relationship with Anya, Xander demands Giles give him an axe and show him a demon to use it on.
- Visual Pun: The fire trucks rushing past as the Scoobies sing, "Let it burn".
- Volleying Insults / Hey, That's My Line!: In "I'll Never Tell"Xander: She clings / She's needy / She's also really greedy / She never —
Anya [interrupting] His eyes are beady!
Xander: This is my verse, hello!
- Wham Episode: There's a big moment about pretty much every character. Giles decides to leave, Dawn is becoming a kleptomaniac, Buffy reveals that she was in Heaven, Tara learns that Willow erased her memory of an argument to avoid fighting about her over-reliance on magic (thus proving her point), Buffy and Spike kiss, and Xander and Anya start to express fears about getting married.
- What Measure Is a Non-Human?: Spike's "Rest in Peace" song claims that Buffy only talks to him because confessing to a "dead man" isn't real to her. Buffy looks away guiltily, confirming his accusation.
- "What Now?" Ending: "Where Do We Go From Here?"
- What the Hell, Hero?:
- Giles tries to ask Buffy about how her parenting Dawn is working out, and Buffy brushes him aside. This worries Giles that he's coddling her.
- Tara calls out Willow in song for using magic on her and erasing her memory, after what happened with Glory.
- Wicked Witch: During "I've Got a Theory", Xander says that evil witches might be responsible, only to backtrack rapidly when Willow and Tara give him the hairy eyeball.
- Woman / Vampire Scorned: When Giles tells the Scoobies not to go with Buffy, Spike offers to go in their stead.Buffy: I thought you wanted me to stay away from you. Isn't that what you sang?
- Wrong Genre Savvy: Xander explains that he only attempted to make a singing spell because musicals have a happy ending and perfect romances. Sweet laughs on hearing this, as he knows that he's not a good demon.
- Zero-G Spot / Power Perversion Potential: It's strongly implied that Tara is using her levitation powers so Willow can perform oral sex on her. The other possibility is that she loses control of her telekinetic abilities as she's about to orgasm.
- You Are Worth Hell: Despite Buffy taking him for granted and mistreating him, Spike is willing to hold her as she's combusting to keep her from dying. Not to mention he was willing to face an all-powerful demon that made him sing his heart out.