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Recap / Buffy The Vampire Slayer S 7 E 16 Storyteller

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"Why can't you just masturbate like the rest of us!?"
Anya Jenkins
"Hello there, gentle viewers."

Directed by Marita Grabiak

Written by Jane Espenson, Rebecca Kirshner, & Drew Z Greenberg

Andrew imagines that he is situated in an old library with a roaring fire, dressed in a smoking jacket and holding a pipe, describing his own version of "Buffy, Slayer of the Vampyrs". Instead, he's taking refuge in the bathroom talking to a video camera, and his dramatic narrative is cut short when Anya knocks on the bathroom door. He tries to explain his actions, and Anya reminds him of Buffy's irritated reaction the previous night, when he had followed her on patrol. He explains his desire to make a record of the events leading up to the apocalypse, in case humans survive, so that they will know what Buffy and her allies did.

Later, Andrew talks to the video camera and uses his big white board to illustrate and explain the array of evil forces in Sunnydale. He continues to interview the residents of the house, starting with the Potential Slayers. He introduces a romanticized version of everyone to the camera, a fantasy in which Buffy seductively pours cereal, Spike appears without a shirt, and Anya eats from a bunch of grapes. Buffy reiterates her irritation with Andrew's behavior. As she describes her vision of vampire armies to her friends, Andrew sneaks away to continues his narrative, describing an idyllic scene of himself as leader of the Trio. As Buffy continues to talk, Andrew observes Willow and Kennedy and recounts his encounter with Dark Willow. Altering the past, Andrew imagines himself standing up to Dark Willow and deflecting her power while Jonathan meekly hides behind him.

Buffy arrives at the school to find two boys fighting, a shy girl turning invisible because nobody notices her, and various other disturbances. Buffy finds Principal Wood, who has just been injured by a thrown rock. As she bandages his head, they discuss the bizarre (yet familiar) chaos dominating the school. She explains her suspicions that the activation of the Seal of Danzalthar is behind the morning's chaos. They investigate the newly-uncovered seal in the school basement. As Robin gets close to the seal, he is infused with evil. In a demonic voice, he berates Buffy for her involvement with Spike. The connection is broken when Buffy pulls him away from the seal, leaving Robin with no memory of the possession.

Meanwhile, at the Summers' home, Andrew films Dawn, then praises Xander's expert repairs to the windows (ignoring Willow and Kennedy, who are kissing in the living room). He re-interviews Xander and Anya, prying into their feelings about their ruined wedding. Afterward, the two to talk to each other about what happened and what feelings still exist between them. In the basement, Spike tells Andrew and his camera to get lost; Andrew interrupts with a lighting correction, and Spike (performing for the camera) enthusiastically repeats his verbal assault. Upstairs, Xander and Anya discuss their love for each other; they are recorded by a hidden camera, which Andrew reviews later. When Buffy and Robin arrive, they inform Andrew that he is going to help them deal with the Seal (which, at this point, is surrounded by five possessed students and glowing with light).

The gang drills Andrew for information about the seal and tries to force out his memories with a special charm. He remembers an event from Mexico, where he had fled with Jonathan the year before. In his memory, he and Jonathan suddenly wake from the same nightmare, both haunted by their evil pasts. After Jonathan leaves the room, the First appears to Andrew in Warren's form, questioning his progress in obtaining the knife necessary to sacrifice Jonathan. In the present, Willow asks Andrew where that knife is now (Buffy's silverware drawer). The knife is engraved with a language that is tied to the seal, and Willow begins to research.

Buffy tells Andrew that she believes that he can help her quiet the Seal. They leave for the school, accompanied by Spike and Robin. They arrive to find that the school is being destroyed by ongoing student riots. Andrew tries to film their walk through the halls, but they are attacked by several strong students. Buffy and Andrew make their way to the basement while Spike and Robin guard the stairway entrance. As they walk, Andrew tells Buffy about what happened when he killed Jonathan. In this version, however, he refuses to do the deed when goaded by the First in the form of Warren, and when Jonathan sees the knife he attacks Andrew who accidental stabs him, followed by Andrew dramatically screaming for his fallen friend. When Buffy mentions Wood's earlier possession, Andrew instantly changes his story so that he stabbed Jonathan while under the seal's thrall. They enter the basement room carefully and find five students standing around the seal, their eyes freshly cut and sealed (like Harbingers of Death). In the Summers' basement, Xander and Anya revel in the aftermath of having sex again before talking about moving on with their lives (a conversation that fades into an awkward silence).

At the school, Spike and Robin are attacked by more students. Spike inadvertently confirms his role in the murder of Robin's mother, and Robin makes a failed attempt to stake Spike; in the chaos of the fight, his actions go unnoticed. Buffy battles the new Bringers while Andrew records the scene with his camera. Once she has killed the Bringers, Buffy pulls out the knife and advances on Andrew, revealing that they must spill his blood to quiet the Seal, since he was the one who initially activated it. Buffy describes the bitter prospects for their future, and chastises his constant attempts to avoid taking responsibility for his actions. Andrew, frightened to tears, admits how he willingly murdered Jonathan despite knowing deep down that he wasn't really dealing with Warren, and how he is sorry. He tells Buffy that he deserves whatever happens to him. Buffy leans Andrew over the Seal so that his tears fall on its surface. The Seal closes and becomes quiet. Buffy reveals to Andrew that tears, not blood, were necessary to close the seal; she had no plans to kill him. The students around the school are released, and the violence stops.

Later, a sad Andrew talks to the camera in the bathroom again, confessing that he probably will die, and that he deserves to. He shuts the camera off.

Tropes Included Are:

  • Breather Episode: The last comic episode in BtVS.
  • Brick Joke:
    • The piglet from "Sleeper" runs past Buffy and Wood while they're checking out the basement.
      Wood: I hope that's not a student.
    • The Cheese Man from "Restless" appears for some blink-and-you-miss-it frames in Andrew/Jonathan's dream montage.
    • The anti-cheerleader graffiti adorning the walls.
  • Buffy Speak:
    Buffy: It's like all the Hellmouth's energy is trying to escape in that one little spot, and it's getting all-—
    Wood: Focus-y.
    Buffy: Careful. You're starting to speak like me now.
  • Call-Back:
    • To the plot from "Out of Mind, Out of Sight": Buffy catches an unnoticed girl in the middle of turning invisible, and manages to stop it.
    • Amanda and Kennedy discuss how if they don't save the world, nothing else matters. They seem to have forgotten Angel's second part of the quote.
  • Captain Obvious: After encountering various chaos outside, Buffy enters Wood's office to find the principal holding an ice pack against his head, after having a rock thrown at him.
    Buffy: Something is going on today.
    Wood: Yes, well, um, that occurred to me as I ducked the other two rocks.
  • Casual Kink: Xander and Anya have sex on Spike's bed (take that you evil bloodsucking fiend!) and complain that it's too bad Buffy took away Spike's chains.
  • Catch the Conscience: Buffy threatens Andrew with the dagger in order to get Andrew to feel remorse for his killing of Jonathan.
  • Character Development: This episode offers a significant bit of this for Andrew. At its start, he treats the war against the First as a low-stakes fantasy story that he's the narrator of, with Buffy (and the other long-time Scoobies) as the heroes. After he gets served a dash of his own mortality, he acknowledges that the war is deadly serious, and becomes a more active member of the group from then on, eventually becoming a Watcher.
  • Circling Monologue: Buffy confronting Andrew in the basement.
  • Comically Missing the Point: Andrew assumes Spike and Robin trading insults is a sign of Belligerent Sexual Tension.
  • Continuity Porn: Thanks to the Seal, the kind of weekly crises the Scoobies faced in the first few seasons all start happening at once - e.g, a girl turning invisible because no-one notices her. Buffy also mentions the swim team monsters and killer prom dogs to Robin.
  • Conversation Cut:
    Andrew: [talking to Buffy in the graveyard] But the story needs—
    [Hauled out of the bathroom by Anya] —to be told!
  • Creator In-Joke: When the Scoobies pressure Andrew for useful information about the Seal of Danzalthar, Andrew tries to squirm out of it by asking instead for a "cool, refreshing Zima." Buffy replies, "No Zima!" and Spike says, "Shut your face about the Zima, just talk." Jane Espenson had some years before created the name "Zima" for the adult beverage while working for a marketing firm.
  • Credits Gag: The monster of the Mutant Enemy Productions logo, instead of saying his famous "Grr, argh!", sings "We are as gooooooods!!!"
    • Andrew says "Grrr, Arghh!" at one point, so the monster and Andrew must have decided to swap lines.
  • Daydream Surprise: The Teaser opens with Andrew giving a Masterpiece Theatre introduction — when Anya hammers on the door he's revealed to be sitting on the toilet.
  • Distinguished Gentleman's Pipe: Andrew lights up a pipe for his Masterpiece Theatre introduction. Then starts coughing.
  • Distracted by the Sexy:
    • Willow snuggles with Kennedy during Buffy's Rousing Speech.
    • Later subverted: Andrew walks in on Willow and Kennedy kissing on the sofa.
      Andrew: Hey, here's something I think you're going to be interested in, gentle viewers. (zooms in on the window behind the sofa) Look at the fine work Xander did on that replacing that window sash. You can't even tell it's new, it blends in so well. He's extraordinary.
  • Documentary Episode: The episode makes Andrew's pre-existing inclination to fantasizing plot-relevant and use it for hilarious deconstruction of the other regulars at the same time.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?:
    • Andrew interviews Anya and Xander, and ends up acting like a marriage counsellor.
    • The first Imagine Spot looks like a TV commercial for breakfast cereal.
    • Andrew's video resembles badly written fanfiction, especially with the blatant shipping.invoked
  • Dreaming of Things to Come: A flashback shows Andrew and Jonathan in Mexico, dreaming of events to come in Season 6. And for some reason the Cheeseman.
  • Easily Forgiven: Kennedy is back with Willow, which could just be because it's sweeps week.
  • Eye Scream: Four Sunnydale High students blind themselves to become Bringers.
  • Failed Attempt at Drama:
    Andrew: [as The Narrator] Things are tense in Command Central this morning. Buffy is clearly concerned with some unknown danger, and the air is filled with foreboding.
    Dawn: [drying dishes] Oh, um, we're out of raisin bran.
  • Fake Video Camera View: Sometimes we see the red "REC" with the frame, when Andrew is recording something. Other times they show a green "PLAY" when he's reviewing video he shot earlier.
  • Flashback: Plenty — subverted with Andrew 'remembering' his confrontation with Dark!Willow. Clips of Andrew calmly using magic to ward off her attacks replace the scenes where Anya actually does so.
  • Girl on Girl Is Hot: Subverted. Andrew brings his video camera into Buffy's living room to find Willow and Kennedy kissing on the couch. He comments that this is hot — and turns his camera to the window repair work recently done by Xander to which he was referring.
  • Good Is Not Nice:
    • Andrew asks if Buffy would have spilled his blood if the tears didn't work. Buffy doesn't answer.
    • Buffy tells Spike not to kill the possessed students. Spike just says, "They'll live" and continues beating them up.
  • Got Me Doing It: When Buffy fills Wood in on how Sunnydale High works in...
    Buffy: It's like all the hellmouth's energy is trying to escape in that one little spot, and it's getting all...
    Wood: Focusy?
    Buffy: Careful. You're starting to speak like me now.
  • Greek Chorus: Andrew fills this role. However, like most tropes in the show's later days, it was pretty ruthlessly deconstructed: Andrew realized he was putting a rhetorical spin on death and suffering for the sake of his own vanity (he's talking to a camcorder throughout the episode).
  • Hate Plague: Created by the Seal of Danzalthar.
  • The Heart: Xander of course.
    Andrew: I'm gonna do your special intro later. "The man who is the heart of the Slayer machine."
  • Historical Villain Upgrade: Subverted. Andrew exaggerates his competence and spot in the pecking order when recalling his past as a "supervillain", but the scheme fantasy-Andrew and his minions outline is more pathetic than anything the Trio actually did.
  • Homoerotic Subtext: Jonathan and Andrew share the same bed in Mexico.
    • In one of Andrew's Imagine Spots, Warren is clearly reciprocating Andrew's feelings.
  • Imagine Spot:
  • In the Back / Conveniently Timed Attack from Behind: Wood tries to stake Spike while his back is turned, only to be tackled by a possessed student.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: Loads
  • Long Speech Tea Time: Andrew ducks out of the room when Buffy starts going into another soliloquy, noting that they can go on for some time. A few minutes later he looks to see if Buffy has finished — she's still going on and even Willow is trying to hide a yawn.
  • Made of Evil
    Andrew: This whole thing is being orchestrated by something called 'The First'. It's made up of all the evil in the whole world.
  • Mundane Made Awesome: Pretty much everything from Andrew's POV.
  • Mundane Utility: Andrew left the sacrificial dagger he used to kill Jonathan in with the other kitchen knives.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: After spending the better part of a year internalizing and denying, Andrew finally admits and begins coming to terms with his role in Jonathan's death.
  • Not So Above It All: Spike gets in Andrew's face about videotaping him. When Andrew interrupts to tell Spike the lighting is wrong, he changes position and repeats the same angry spiel.
  • "Not Wearing Pants" Dream: Wood asks Buffy how she can tell the difference between her dreams and her visions.
    Buffy: You're running to catch the bus naked? That's a dream. Army of vicious vampire creatures? That's a vision. Also, I was awake.
    Wood: A bus to where? I mean, an army of how many?
  • Ominous Latin Chanting: The students turning into Bringers.
  • Phantasy Spelling: Parodied: "Buffy, Slayer of the Vampyrs". Andrew actually pronounces "Vampyr" slightly differently to make the point, putting the stress on the second syllable rather than the first.
  • Poorly Disguised Pilot: The episode was an experiment to see how the audience would respond to a show centered around Andrew, since the series was ending and they were trying to find a character upon whom they could build another Spin-Off show. Andrew never got said spin-off, though he did appear in the final season of Angel.
  • Redemption Equals Death: Played with in Andrew's case: when it looks like Buffy will have to sacrifice him to stop the First Evil's current plan, he starts babbling about it being his 'redemption at last'. She tells him to stop acting like he's living in a story, and asks him if him dying will make up for him killing Jonathan. He admits that it won't and properly owns up to his actions for the first time - which is just what Buffy needed to happen (they didn't need his blood for the ritual, but tears of remorse). At the end of the episode, he concludes that while he's probably going to die in the upcoming fight, and that's probably what he deserves, it won't change anything. When he makes it to the end of the series alive, he's more surprised than anyone else.
    "Here's the thing. I killed my best friend. There's a big fight coming, and I don't know what's going to happen. I don't even think I'm going to live through it. That's, uh... (Beat) Probably the way it should be. I guess I'm..." (Beat) [Turns the camera off].
  • Self-Serving Memory: When Andrew tries to justify killing Jonathan, we see various flashbacks which differ wildly as he changes his version of events. This prompts Buffy to point out indignantly that he has just completely changed his story from the version he told her only moments ago.
  • Serious Business:
    Buffy: Being in high school can feel like being at war. Now it's true. The students feel like the teachers are out to get them. The Chess Club resents the French Club for taking the Activities Room, and, well, everybody hates the cheerleaders.
  • Shipper on Deck: Andrew happily ships Buffy/Spike, Willow/Kennedy, Anya/Xander, and Wood/Spike. Subverted in that Andrew completely misreads that last one.
  • Smash to Black: The episode ends with Andrew turning off the camera.
  • Special Edition Title: The Grargh, instead of saying, well, "Grargh", sings "We are as gooods!".
  • The Storyteller: Andrew tries to serve this role.
  • Super Villain / Badass in a Nice Suit: Andrew's fantasy version of his past with the Trio. Also involves Technobabble and Technicolor Science.
  • Swiss-Army Tears: Andrew's tears close the Seal.
  • Tears of Remorse: After several attempts to justify the murder of Jonathan, Andrew breaks down crying as he realizes he killed his only true friend in cold blood.
  • Tempting Fate: Buffy shh's Wood because the crazy students might hear him. Wood points out that they're all the way down the corridor, only for a student to step out from behind a locker and hit him in the face with a fire extinguisher.
  • Title Drop: "Buffy, Slayer of the Vampyrs". Andrew actually pronounces "Vampyr" slightly differently to make the point, putting the stress on the second syllable rather than the first.
  • Trashcan Bonfire: Inside a trashed Sunnydale High for no apparent reason.
  • Unreliable Narrator: Andrew repeatedly portrays himself as more badass during his flashbacks.
  • Walking Shirtless Scene: Spoofed with Andrew's fantasy scene; Spike (who'd been fully dressed a moment before) walks into frame shirtless and starts held gazing with Buffy.
  • Why Don't You Just Shoot Him?: Averted; Wood tries to stake Spike the moment he sees an opening.
  • Your Head Asplode: The Hellmouth is making metaphors become literal truths; this includes a student whose head literally explodes from stress, splattering against the window of Principal Wood's office.