Directed by David Grossman
The Scooby Gang are recovering from the attack by the Bringers and the loss of Spike, who is still being tortured by The First in the guises of himself, Buffy, and Drusilla. Spike, however, refuses to give in, telling The First that if Buffy believes in him, he can believe in himself, too.
Back at Buffy's house, the somewhat overenthusiastic Dawn and Anya help Buffy question Andrew, who leads them to the seal in the school basement. They find Spike's blood and cover the seal up again with shovels they find next to it. Still carrying the shovels, the leave the school, meeting Principal Wood on the way. He is also carrying a shovel, having just been burying Jonathan.
Back at the Summers house, Willow's locator spell goes terribly wrong. Explosive bolts send Anya and Buffy flying while Willow is briefly possessed by the First Evil. Xander smashes a bowl used in the spell which breaks the effect and sends Willow crashing. Buffy promises the panicked witch they will not call on her to use magic until they know what they are doing.
Giles suddenly appears at the door, bringing three Potentials and the news that the Watchers Council has been destroyed. He also has information on The First's plan to destroy the Slayer line. After assessing the situation, Giles tells Buffy that she is the only chance the Potentials and in fact the world have. The Potentials try to settle in, with Kennedy showing a definite interest in sleeping in the same room as the slightly flustered Willow.
Buffy and Giles go back to the Christmas tree lot where Buffy first found the Bringers in "Amends". She falls in a hole and meets the Turok-Han, and barely manages to escape alive after a stake to the "Ubervampire's" heart fails to kill it.
Giles and Buffy return to the house to find the three Potentials hanging out in the kitchen. Giles tells them all about the vampire Buffy fought. He explains that the Turok-Han are part of a separate race of vampires that is far superior to and feared by the everyday vampires Buffy is used to. At work, Buffy researches "evil" on the Internet as Principal Wood stops to check on her. Again, in the cave, Spike is smacked around by the Ubervamp while Drusilla dances about and tries to convince Spike to decide to be on their side of the game. Spike doesn't fall for the mind tricks and earns himself more of a beating from the Ubervamp.
Buffy reviews her wounds as her mother pays her another visit. Joyce talks to Buffy about evil and its constant presence in everyone and about the pressure Buffy's feeling to deal with this evil. She wakes up to find that she's still at work and had been in the middle of a meeting with a student. The student walks off and Principal Wood watches on from his office as a very tired Buffy tries to deal with the stress. Later that evening, the gang prepares for sundown and the potential danger it brings to them. The Potentials get weapons while Andrew tries unsuccessfully to convince Buffy and Xander to untie him. As Buffy watches for the sun to set, Giles reminds her that she's the one being depended on and then Molly interrupts, informing them that Annabelle ran off.
Annabelle runs through the streets of Sunnydale until she's captured by the Ubervamp and quickly killed. Buffy shows up in time to find the dead body and be attacked by the Ubervamp herself. She is hurt and runs off in search of better fighting grounds and a useful weapon. Again, the vampire has the upper hand, but Buffy drops a bundle of heavy steel beams on the creature, smashing it to the ground. Practically unaffected, the Ubervamp rises from the mountain of beams and goes after Buffy again. He throws her around some more, finally tossing her through a stone wall where she's buried under rubble and steel on the other side.
The First in Drusilla's form gets angry with Spike as he continues to refuse to cooperate. Because of Buffy's faith in him, he feels strong enough to refuse. A terribly wounded Buffy sits alone at home as she listens to Giles and Willow talk in another room. They worry about Buffy's condition and their ability to fight this thing that seems so much bigger than them all. Buffy finally comes downstairs and gives an inspirational speech about this huge challenge before them that is bigger than any evil they've ever faced. She tells the group that she's more scared than ever, but she's not about to back down now. There's a new plan: They're declaring war on this evil instead of waiting for it to make a move.
This episode contains
- Analogy Backfire / Unsafe Haven: "As safe as houses" is not a good analogy to use when the house you're in has a boarded-up window from the last visit by an evil force.
- Ancient Evil: Giles explains that the Ubervamp is one; it's part of a prehistoric race of vampires called the Turok-Han, the vampiric equivalent of Neanderthals...beings feared even by their own present-day kin.Giles: As Neanderthals are to human beings, the Turok-Han are to vampires. They're primordial, ferociously powerful killing machines, as single-minded as animals. They are the vampires that vampires fear. An ancient and entirely different race. And until this morning, I thought they were a myth.
- Ankle Drag: The übervamp grabs Buffy as she's trying to crawl out of the hole to escape.
- Answer Cut: When Buffy is left under a pile of rubble by the übervamp we cut to the First saying to Spike, "Do you know why you're still alive? Because I'm not finished with you yet."
- Anti Climax Cut: Buffy declares she has the "best plan ever" for finding information on the First. Cut to her looking up "evil" on the internet.
- Badass Boast: Buffy gives the first of many, many, many speeches.I'm beyond tired. I'm beyond scared. I'm standing on the mouth of Hell, and it's going to swallow me whole. (Beat) And it'll choke on me. We're not ready? They're not ready. They think we're gonna wait for the end to come, like we always do. I'm done waiting. They want an apocalypse? Oh, we'll give 'em one. Anyone else who wants to run... do it now. Because we just became an army. We just declared war. From now on we won't just face our worst fears, we will seek them out. We will find them and cut out their hearts one by one until the First shows itself for what it really is. And I'll kill it myself. There's only one thing on this Earth more powerful than evil. And that's us. Any questions?
- Bait-and-Switch Comment: Willow is searching on the internet and finds information on the First!...Bank of Delaware, sorry.
- Beauty Is Never Tarnished: Averted for Buffy and Spike. Played straight with Dawn as the cut on her cheek is finally gone and left nary a scar.
- Blatant Lies: Buffy and Wood explaining to each other what they're doing in the school basement with shovels.
- Bound and Gagged: Andrew is tied to a chair, and when he talks too much he gets his mouth duct-taped shut.
- Break the Badass: Averted; Buffy looks like a domestic violence victim by the end, but shows she's still got a good speech in her.
- Broken Heel: Buffy sprains an ankle fighting the übervamp, slowing her down when she tries to flee through the factory.
- Buffy Speak: Xander on seeing the seal of Danthazar. "Whoa. Check out the goat-heady badness." On seeing Wood in the basement with a shovel, Buffy congratulates him on his "full-service principaling".
- Captain Obvious:Andrew: Listen to me, man. I've got a bad feeling about this.Xander: Of course you've got a bad feeling, dude. You're tied to a chair.
- Casual Danger Dialog: Xander is making jokes while the Potentials are scared to death waiting for night to fall and the übervamp to come crashing in.Willow: Xander? Newbies. Let's ease them in to the whole jokes-in-the-face-of-death-thing.
- Continuity Nod: The First's true appearance as a horned demon-like creature was first seen in "Amends"
- Cliffhanger Copout: No mention is made of how Giles escaped the axe-wielding Bringer. Or indeed, if he did at all...
- Cold-Blooded Torture: Spike gets tortured by the First For the Evulz.
- Daydream Surprise: An exhausted Buffy keeps dropping off and dreaming of her mother. Due to the First appearing as Joyce before, it appears to be happening again until Buffy wakes up — unless of course the First is infiltrating her dreams as it did in "Amends".
- Did You Just Flip Off Cthulhu?: The majority of Spike's interactions with the First while the latter is impersonating Drusilla. At one point, an amused Spike points out that he knows he's talking to an illusion because the real Drusilla is far crazier than the First's impersonation. At the end of the episode, though incredibly worn out, Spike dares the First to keep torturing him, because no matter what, it won't turn him back into its puppet. When The First angrily inquires as to why, Spike replies that Buffy's faith in him is just that much of a morale booster.First!Drusilla: Choose a side. Choose our side. You know that it's delicious. What do you say?Spike: Dru, love — get bent.
First!Drusilla: Do you know why you're alive?Spike: Never figured you for existential thought, love. I mean, you hated Paris.
- And earlier...
- Drama-Preserving Handicap: Being possessed by the First makes Willow afraid to use her magic powers for the next few episodes, so Buffy has to defeat the übervamp the old-fashioned way.
- Dramatic Shattering: Xander breaks the First's hold on Willow by breaking the bowl she's using for the location spell.
- Eldritch Abomination: We have a brief glimpse of the First's true face.
- Evil Plan/Kill 'Em All: The First has been killing off all the potential Slayers (and their Watchers) so when Faith and Buffy die there won't be anyone left to guard the Hellmouth.
- Cordon Bleugh ChefDawn: Annabelle and Molly are starved and I totally burnt the mac and cheese. Oh, um, I'll put hot sauce on it, tell 'em it's an American thing, say it's blackened.
- Death by Looking Up: Buffy drops a load of heavy pipes on the übervamp's head. Turns out it's Not Quite Dead.
- Establishing Character Moment: Kennedy's dismissive reaction to seeing Buffy is an indicator of her personality.
- Flashback Cut: Buffy remembering her dreams about the murders of the other Potentials.
- Flanderization: The First Evil's version of Drusilla seems far more obsessed with dolls than the original.
- Fluffy the Terrible: Andrew isn't impressed by the name of The First for an ultimate evil, preferring something like Lex Luthor or Voldemort.
- For Science!: Dawn re burying a time capsule (her excuse for being in the Sunnydale High basement with a shovel).
- Gory Discretion Shot: Spike being tortured in The Teaser. The übervamp blocks the camera's POV, then we hear a terrible scream from Spike that seamlessly smash cuts to the Title Sequence.
- Also, Annabelle's death (see below) is off-screen while the camera looks at her necklace falling to the ground.
- Holy Burns Evil: Averted; the übervamp grabs Annabelle around the neck — cut to her bloody cross necklace dropping to the ground.
- If I Had a NickelBuffy: It claimed to be the original evil, the one that came before anything else.
- Immune to Bullets: Buffy has an Oh, Crap! moment when the übervamp yanks her stake out of his heart.
- Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain: Andrew would rather everyone think of him this way."I admit I went over to The Dark Side, but only to pick up a few things."
- Luck-Based Search Technique: Giles and Buffy go looking for the underground cavern where she saw the First in "Amends". As Giles walks across a clearing he hears a great crash from behind him, and turns to see a hole where Buffy was standing.Buffy: Found it!
- Most Definitely Not a Villain: The First appears to Spike in the form of Drusilla, but Spike tells her the real Drusilla is even crazier.
- Mr. Exposition: Giles fills in the audience on the First and the Turok-Han.
- Neck Lift: The übervamp's favourite move.
- Nerd Glasses: Worn by Anya while doing research.
- "No More Holding Back" Speech: Buffy, after spending an episode fleeing, with her friends, from a supposedly unkillable, prehistoric "uber-vampire," finally meets him face-to-face, in front of her friends, and gives a speech:
- Buffy: Look at them. They're terrified. Meat for the beast. You're going to kill them, and there's no way I can stop you. You can't be killed. But, see, here's the thing: I don't believe that. I always find a way. I'm the thing that monsters have nightmares about. And right now, you and me are going to show them why.
- Not Himself: Giles seems demoralised by the death of his colleagues on the Council and the scope of the threat they are facing. Why, he hasn't even hugged anyone...
- Not Listening to Me, Are You?: An exhausted Buffy has a Daydream Surprise dream in the middle of her counselling session. Naturally the kid concerned walks out, especially when Buffy can't even remember his name.
- Oh, Crap!: Buffy drops hundreds of pounds of metal pipes on the übervamp and starts limping away. Then it pulls itself out of the pile...
- Punch Catch: The übervamp catches Buffy's punch, twists her into an armlock and slams her head against a stalagmite.
- Red Herring: Buffy saying she's doing to have to go out and find the First Evil, only to open the door and find herself facing Giles. As she goes to hug him several Potentials walk through the door, blocking her off.
- Rousing Speech: The episode ends with Buffy giving one to the Potentials, essentially declaring war on the First.
- Running Gag: As mentioned, this marked the beginning of Buffy's habit of going into soliloquy at the drop of a hat.
- Saying Sound Effects Out LoudWillow: Buffy, I want you to know that I'm really sorry for letting you down. You know, here before with the magic going all Arrrrgh! and me going all Eeeeee! and everything getting all Rrrrrr!
- Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Annabel cracks under the pressure and flees the house. She runs right into the Turok-Han, who kills her easily.
- Shout-Out: When the others are skeptical of Xander's plan to use the pantry as a trap, he says, "You saying M. Night Shyamalan lied to us?", referring to when an alien was easily trapped inside a pantry in Signs.
- Speak in Unison: Xander and Andrew discover they are Not So Different when they share a geek moment, much to Xander's annoyance.
- Spiteful Spit: Buffy spits blood in the übervamp's face. It's not exactly bothered by this, but it does provide a distraction so Buffy can escape.
- Suspiciously Specific Denial: Dawn and Anya are discussing what nasty things they can do to Andrew to make him wake up, only for Buffy to walk in. They quickly sit down.Dawn: Hi. (Buffy stares at them, but they avoid eye contact) Nothing.Buffy: What?Dawn: (wringing hands) Oh, um, I thought you were gonna ask us what we were doing.
- There Is Only One Bed: And Kennedy is entirely willing to share it with Willow.
- Titled After the Song: The title comes from a song by The Police.
- Water Torture: Spike is subjected to this despite the well-established fact that vampires don't breathe (though the psychological aspects can't be much fun either). Word of God is that it was written as holy water, and the effects guys failed to add the smoke and sizzle.
- Water Wake-up: While he's unconscious and tied to a chair, Dawn tries to wake Andrew up, first by slapping him and later by throwing cold water in his face. Neither method works, but he comes to on his own before she can try throwing hot water on him. Since Buffy doesn't approve of this, Dawn and Anya try to pretend the water came from Andrew drooling all over himself.
- The Worf Effect: The Turok-Han kicks the shit out of Buffy and leaves her for dead. Going days without sleep didn't help.
- You Taste Delicious: First!Drusilla to Spike, though of course she can't actually touch him.