Dawn helps Willow move into her new room at Summers house while giving her advice on how to fit in with the people at school. Buffy and Xander contribute to the effort too as they talk about Anya. Buffy wonders about Anya's evil intentions, but Xander thinks she's getting better and is no longer a threat. Meanwhile, at a fraternity house, male bodies litter the floor; all have their hearts ripped out. Anya sits in the corner, covered in blood and rocking back and forth, seemingly shocked by what she's just done.
Flashback to Sjornjost, Sweden. It's 880AD. A pre-demon Anya, originally named Aud, cares for her Viking mate Olaf. He has returned from a hard day of fighting trolls, although Aud doubts him. She waits on him, promising the requested sex after he's eaten and rhapsodising about the 'sense of accomplishment that stems from selflessly giving yourself to others'. She worries that Olaf has been unfaithful.
In the present day, Spike talks to Buffy about his mental struggles and remembers Drusilla. Buffy is warm and reassuring but it's shown that it's not the real Buffy. The delusion disappears when Buffy actually enters the room. She tells Spike he needs to get out of the school basement and away from whatever is making him so crazy down there.
On the college campus, Willow talks to an old professor about rejoining his class and sees Anya leaving a fraternity house. She's dressed in a trench coat and seems wary, saying that she's dating one of the fraternity boys when Willow asks. Willow spots a streak of blood on Anya's wrist as she quickly leaves. She goes into the fraternity house to investigate and finds the room of corpses. There's a young student whimpering in a closet that she 'takes it back'. She tearfully explains to Willow that she made a rhetorical wish about having their hearts ripped out after the boys played a cruel trick on her. A giant spider demon appeared and did just that. The spider is still around and attacks Willow and the girl. Willow uses magic to keep it bay, making a nasty comment to the girl (reminiscent of Dark Willow) before tossing the spider through the window. She comforts the girl, seemingly back to her normal self again.
In another flashback to Sweden, Aud watches Olaf as he's magicked into a troll after he cheated on her. He's running away from a mob trying to kill him. D'Hoffryn watches her and praises her magical skill and vengeful resolution. D'Hoffryn insists that Aud's true self is Anyanka, a natural born vengeance demon and offers to make her one in reality. She accepts.
At work, Buffy receives a call from Willow about the fraternity house and the spider demon. Meanwhile, Halfrek is in Anya's room praising her return to enthusiastic vengeance while Anya seems regretful. Willow barges in and orders Halfrek out. Anya rejects Willow's assistance and considers Willow poorly qualified to judge considering her brush with darkness. Buffy and Xander search the woods for the spider demon and are surprised by it as they inspect another one of its victims. It nearly kills Buffy before she takes it out with an axe. Buffy and Xander return to the Summers house and find Willow, waiting with an explanation about where the demon originated and the damage it's caused. Xander shouts at Willow but realises she's delayed telling them as it means Buffy will have to kill Anya.
In a flashback to 1905, Anyanka and Halfrek drink champagne at a banquet full of massacred men in Russia. The city of St. Petersburg burns outside the window. Anyanka accepts Halfrek's compliments for starting the Russian Revolutionnote but rejects her offer to celebrate as her work is all she is and all she wants.
Back at the Summers home, Xander denounces Buffy's plan to kill Anya but she remarks that his lingering feelings for Anya are clouding his judgement. He insists Buffy always protects demons she loves and she reminds him that she killed Angel even though she loved him more than anything because it was the right thing to do. Her judgements as the Slayer are absolute. Xander insists there must be another way and rushes off when Buffy tells him to try finding one. She takes weapons and goes to find Anya alone, Willow pleading that she can't bear to accompany or help her.
Left alone, Willow runs to her room and uses the summoning talisman that D'Hoffryn gave her three years earlier. D'Hoffryn is pleased that Willow called him as he was impressed by her flaying of Warren Mears and her surrender to hatred as Dark Willow. He assumes Willow has called to accept the role of vengeance demon but she insists she's called him to discuss Anya's recent actions. He agrees to talk.
Xander finds Anya at the frat house. Anya rejects his help, claiming he breached his promise of marriage, a point that Xander thinks is no longer an excuse. Buffy arrives and Anya changes to her game face, throwing Xander aside and attacking Buffy. They seem matched until Buffy shoves a sword through Anya's chest. In a sudden flashback to the musical episode, we see events that would have happened during Sweet's enchantment of Sunnydale. Anya sings her solo number about being Xander's 'Mrs' and the centrality of the role in defining who she is now. Anya comes to and is immune to her injury. She pulls the sword out. Buffy fights the sword away and gets another shot to use it before Xander tackles her away from Anya.Suddenly, D'Hoffryn appears interrupting the battle. He first approves the carnage caused in the house by Anya and reminds Buffy that attacking him would do nothing. D'Hoffryn compliments Xander's gallantry and asks Anya what she wants to do. Anya asks to undo her last act of vengeance which is possible as her victims died of 'mystical deaths'. D'Hoffryn warns that he can do it but will the sacrifice. The life of a vengeance demon. Anya is willing to die to undo her actions despite Xander's passionate pleas. D'Hoffryn makes Anya confirm she's willing to pay the price due, then casts a spell which summons Halfrek. Anya realises what's about to happen as D'Hoffryn kills Halfrek, painfully by burning her from the inside out. Anya is devastated at seeing her friend die and feels guilty at her being the cause of her death. D'Hoffryn reminds her of who she's dealing with before turning Anya human again. Anya claims that she should have been the one to die to which D'Hoffryn says there is plenty of time. He teleports away as the frat boys begin waking up.
Hurt and scared, Anya leaves alone but Xander follows. She claims that she's dreading facing her life without a role to lose herself in like vengeance demon or girlfriend or even a shopkeeper. Xander argues with her and tries to comfort her but backs off regretfully. Anya walks away in the opposite direction to face her life on her own, like she wants.
This episode has the following tropes:
- Apologetic Attacker / Talk To The SwordBuffy: Anya, I'm sorry.Anya: You're apologizing to me. What fight are you watching? Or is this like one of your little pop-culture references I don't get, 'cause I'm a vengeance (Buffy stabs her through the chest)
- Asshole Victim: The frat boys who humiliated the girl with a Prank Date. Subverted in that we never see this event, only the Disproportionate Retribution.
- Balancing Death's Books: The only way to resurrect the victims of the demon. Smashing Anya's amulet would've just made the demon disappear.
- Beauty Is Never Tarnished: Averted; at one point during her argument with Xander, Buffy turns and walks away from him, and we see the bloody slashes on her back from her fight with the spider demon earlier.
- Be Careful What You Wish For: The girl who was pranked at the frat party and Anya end up less than satisfied with the outcome of their various wishes. The whole point of vengeance demons, of course, is to either convert the Woman Scorned into an unfeeling and monstrously inhuman dispenser of cruelty or to answer the spurned woman's wish in a way that they really, really end up regretting. Don't give in to vengeance so quickly, kids.
- Beethoven Was an Alien Spy: Anya had a hand in causing the 1905 Russian Revolution.
- Being Evil Sucks: Having been human for so long, Anya takes no pleasure in granting the wish at the frat party and is left traumatized.
- Big Beautiful Woman: Olaf assures Aud that he's not interested in the bargirls with their large load-bearing hips, but prefers Aud, who has the hips of a woman from a more arid region of the Baltic.
- Bilingual Bonus Sorta. In the flashback Olaf and Aud speak real but rather bad Swedish. Some parts are understandable, some not so much. The original plan was for the scene to be dubbed by native Swedes, but the actors actually learned their entire dialogue in Swedish, so it was decided to use the live take.
- Critical Research Failure: The research stopped short of the fact that the Svear in the 800s actually spoke Old Norse, but experts in that language are hard to get by in California. The fact that the creators at one point managed to use some sentences in proper Sumerian, makes this even funnier.
- Bloody Handprint
- Brick Joke: In "Becoming", Xander refused to tell Buffy that Willow was attempting to ensoul Angel, instead telling Buffy to "kick his ass". Five seasons later, this comes out as Buffy brings it up in front of Willow.Willow: I never said that!
- Buffy Speak: Xander volunteers for some Side Kicking when Buffy is tracking the spidery demon thingy.
- To "Fool for Love" — a socially inept person becomes a demon in a moment of emotional pain, reinvents their image to strike out at what hurt them, eventually surpassing a mentor in their enthusiasm (don't forget that Cecily/Halfrek was heavily involved in both cases).
- Olaf says that Aud's logic is insane and happenstance, like that of a troll (hearkening back to season five's "Triangle" ("I'm not going to choose between my best friend and my girlfriend! That's insane troll logic!")
- Buffy brings up the events of "Becoming", notably her killing Angel and Xander urging her to do it, allegedly at the behest of Willow. Ironically Willow's denial appears to pass under Buffy's radar.
- "I'm so hungry I could eat a small child." — in "Triangle" Olaf the Troll demands babies to eat. There's also a reference to Insane Troll Logic which was first mentioned in that episode.
- In the flashback to the Musical Episode "Once More With Feeling", Xander is muttering in his sleep about just wanting a happy ending, his motive for summoning the dancing demon Sweet. Anya asks if "the song with the coconuts" (mentioned in the opening Magic Box scene) was strange. David Fury and Marti Noxon can be heard singing about getting mustard on a shirt; the next day Fury's character will sing joyfully about having got the mustard out. Anya also references her duet with Xander, "I'll Never Tell," in "I'll Be Mrs."
- Ceiling Cling: Willow asks where the giant demon spider is; we see it crawling across the ceiling toward her before a Commercial Break Cliffhanger.
- Chekhov's Boomerang: From Season 4. The talisman D'Hoffryn gave to Willow in "Something Blue" is used to summon him.
- Clothing Reflects Personality: Spike's sympathetic fantasy Buffy (white blouse) vs. the terse real-life Buffy (black blouse).
- Comforting Comforter: In the flashback to when they were engaged, Anya spreads a striped blanket over a sleeping Xander during her song.
- Comically Missing the Point / Medieval Morons: Olaf is attacked by the villagers after being turned into a troll.Olaf: Stop! I am Olaf!Villager: The troll is doing an Olaf impersonation!
- Conspicuous Trenchcoat: Anya trying to hide her blood-splattered dress from Willow. Unfortunately she missed some blood on her inner wrist.
- Continuity Nod:
I will be his Missus / Mrs. Anya 'Lame-Ass-Made-Up-Maiden-Name' Harris. ♫
- Xander's lie to Buffy in "Becoming, Part II" is exposed, though it's not clear if Buffy picks up on it. Willow had told Xander to pass on the message that she was trying again to restore Angel's soul. Instead Xander told Buffy, "Willow says kick his ass", either due to hatred of Angel(us) or because he thought Buffy's reluctance to kill her former lover was putting the whole world in danger.
- The Overly Long Name Anya made up for when the Watchers' Council was investigating Buffy's True Companions, and she was afraid they would find out she used to be a demon ("Checkpoint").
- Spike telling how Drusilla would see the stars even while she was inside a building ("Innocence").
- A vengeance demon can't be killed by a sword through the chest ("Older And Far Away").
- D'Hoffryn mentions someone called Lloyd with a "sketch over his wall" of Warren's flaying. In "Villains" the cave has a painting of a man who has seemingly been flayed.
- Conveniently Timed Attack from Behind: Xander tackles Buffy just as she's about to plunge her sword into an unresisting Anya.
- Daydream Surprise: An apparently sane Spike pours out his troubles to a sympathetic Buffy, only for the real Buffy to walk in, whereupon we realise Spike is seeing dead people again.
- A Day in the Limelight: Anya.
- Deal with the Devil: Aud/Anya with D'Hoffryn, twice. First in flashback, when she gave up her humanity to serve him as a vengeance demon in the first place. Second in the episode itself, when she offers him her life to resurrect the people she's killed. Subverted in the second deal when he takes Halfrek's life instead.
- Death Glare:
- Double Entendre: What's the point of loving (Aside Glance) I mean except for the sweaty part. ♫
- Edible Ammunition: "Hit him with fruits and various meats!"
- Exact Words: Anya begs the demon D'Hoffryn to revive the people she's slaughtered, and even agrees to sacrifice herself for it when he tells her that will require the life and soul of a vengeance demon. There is protest by Anya's friends, teary goodbyes and a lot of drama; right up until the point D'Hoffryn summons Anya's best friend Halfrek, also a vengeance demon, and immolates her right in front of everyone.
- Fake Russian: During the Russian Revolution scene the burning man that runs into the room is yelling Help me! in Russian with American-ish accent.
- Faux Affably Evil: D'Hoffryn finally drops his facade and shows why he's one of the Lower Beings.
- Faux Fluency: There is a sequence that takes place in Viking-age Scandinavia somewhere, with the extras speaking gibberish and the two main characters speaking almost incomprehensible Swedish. According to the behind the scenes on the DVD they had been told not to worry, and just say Norse-sounding things, but then the actors went and actually learned their lines in Swedish, so they used it. The pronunciation is, however, so terrible that a Swedish person would be hard-pressed to even recognise they are speaking Swedish, and understanding it would take quite a bit of effort.
- Flashback: Sjornjost, 880 (showing how Anya became a vengeance demon), St. Petersburg, 1905 (showing how Anya started the Russian revolution), and to last year's Musical Episode.
- The difference between what a Woman Scorned wants and what a vengeance demon gives them means Anya should have known D'Hoffryn wouldn't kill her.
- D'Hoffryn in regards to not killing Anya: "Oh, I wouldn't worry about that. From beneath you, it devours. Be patient. All good things in time."
- Spike says he can't move out of the basement because he doesn't have anywhere to go. In the next episode Buffy has talked a reluctant Xander into letting Spike stay at his place.
- Funny Background Event: The scene where Anya's conversing with D'Hoffryn while in the background the villagers chase around her ex, Olaf (whom she turned into a troll) eventually leading to a large pine tree falling down and crushing a building.
- Fun with Subtitles: For all the problems with the bad Swedish, the dialogue is hilarious!
- Get Out!: Willow to Halfrek, who isn't impressed. Anya, who's more familiar with Willow's dark side, tells her to leave.
- Giant Spider / Nested Mouths: The Grimslaw demon.
- Good Is Not Nice: Fantasy!Buffy (presumably the First) offers sympathy to a suffering Spike; the real Buffy tells him bluntly that he's got to get out of the basement.
- Gory Discretion Shot: The fraternity massacre victims aren't shown after a lingering pan in The Teaser, just their Bloody Handprints.
- Happy Flashback: To last year's "Once More With Feeling" — Anya sings of her happiness over becoming Xander's wife.
- Heroic Safe Mode: Lampshaded by Xander who recognises that Buffy is shutting them out emotionally so she can kill Anya.
- Hell-Bent for Leather: Buffy wears the Black Leather Jacket Of Vigilante Execution when she goes to kill Anya.
- Heroes Prefer Swords: Buffy selects a sword as her weapon, after making a reference to the events of "Becoming", where her duty as the Slayer meant she had to kill one of their own, using a sword.
- She's Back: Halfrek says this is how most of the vengeance demon circuit views her frat house incident.
- Historical Domain Character: Writer Drew Goddard chose the name Aud for Anya's original human name because while researching Viking names he found a Viking king named Olaf who had a wife named Aud, known for her sense of humor and her ability to manage money. The description of Aud fit Anya so well that he had to use the name.
- Huge Guy, Tiny Girl: Aud and Olaf (even before he becomes a troll).
- I Am the NounBuffy: I am the law.Anyanka: Vengeance is who I am.
- I Did What I Had to DoBuffy: I killed Angel. Do you even remember that? I would have given up everything to be with... (fights emotion) I loved him more than anything I will ever love in this life and I put a sword through his heart because I had to.
- I Have Many Names: Aud to Anyanka to Mrs. Anya Harris, as befits someone who is struggling with their identity.
- I Know Your True Name: My name is D'Hoffryn. I am Aud. Are you? I'm afraid you don't see your true self. You are Anyanka.
- I'm Standing Right HereXander: This isn't new ground for us. When our friends go all crazy and start killing people, we help them.Willow: Sitting right here.Xander: I'm sorry. But it's true.
- In Love with Your Carnage: D'Hoffryn tells Willow that the demon Lloyd has a picture of her flaying Warren alive.
- Insane Troll Logic: Olaf re Aud. "Your logic is insane and happenstance, like that of a troll."
- Instant Costume Change / Offscreen Reality Warp: Anya opens a door in her dressing gown and steps onto the verandah in her wedding dress during the "Mrs" song. Never mind that she hadn't actually bought the dress at this point; rule of musical likely applies.
- It Sucks to Be the Chosen One
- In the End, You Are on Your Own: Xander (because he point-blank refuses) and Willow (because she's afraid after her brief lapse into the Dark Side) refuse to go along with Buffy to kill Anya. Lampshaded earlier during Buffy's argument with Xander.Buffy: It is always different! It is always complicated, and at some point someone has to draw the line and that is always going to be me! You get down on me for cutting you off, but in the end the Slayer is always cut off. There's no mystical guidebook, no all-knowing counsel; human rules don't apply! There's only me. I am the law.
- I Will Punish Your Friend for Your Failure: Justified as D'Hoffryn is a vengeance demon. Inflicting emotional pain is what he's all about.
- Jumped at the Call: Villainous version. D'Hoffryn is ready to slowly and carefully lure Aud to the Dark Side. Aud, having been betrayed by Olaf, really doesn't need that much pushing.Aud: What would I have to do?D'Hoffryn: What you do best. Help wronged women punish evil men.Aud: Vengeance.D'Hoffryn: But only to those who deserve it.Aud: They all deserve it.*beat*D'Hoffryn: That's where I was going with that, yeah.
- The Last of These Is Not Like the Others: "A troll! Hide your babies and your beadwork!"
- Love Makes You Dumb: Buffy believes that Xander's lingering feelings toward Anya are clouding his better judgement.Xander: Buffy, I still love her.
Buffy: I know. And that's why you can't see this for what it really is.
- Madness Mantra: Willow finds the girl who inadvertently caused the massacre of the frat house huddled in a closet babbling, "I take it back. I take it back. I take it back."
- Meaningful Echo: Faith also said re Slayers, "We are the law" when justifying why she shouldn't be held accountable for accidentally killing an innocent bystander.
- The Mind Is a Plaything of the Body: Olafs behaviour changes very rapidly after he is turned into a troll.
- Mood Dissonance: Buffy receiving the news of the fraternity house massacre, then casually asking Willow how her class went.
- Mood Whiplash
- "I'm the Mrs.! I will be his Mrs.! I'll be..." Smash Cut to Anya impaled on Buffy's sword.
- Olaf hugging Anya in the past. "Fear not, sweet Aud, you will always be my beautiful girl." Smash Cut to Anya in the present, washing blood off her hands.
- "Behold, D'Hoffryn. Lord of Arashmahar! He that turns the air to blood and rains— Miss Rosenberg. How lovely to see you again. Have you done something with your hair?"
- Mrs. Hypothetical: Anya sings a whole song about becoming Mrs. Anya Christina Emmanuella Jenkins-Harris.
- Mundane Solution: With a huge scary spider demon sneaking through the trees above them, Xander suggests going for more swords and a protection amulet too. Buffy just chucks her axe in the air. Spider demon drops dead at their feet.Xander: Or...
- My God, What Have I Done?: Said by Anya almost word-for-word after the opening scene panning over the dead bodies of the fraternity.
- The Nicknamer: D'Hoffyrn dubs Buffy "Lady Hacks Away".
- Nightmare Fetishist: D'Hoffyrn(re Anya's handiwork) Oh, breathtaking. It's like somebody slaughtered an Abercrombie and Fitch catalog.(re Willow's) The flaying of Warren Mears? Oh, truly inspired. That was water cooler vengeance. Lloyd has a sketch of it on his wall.
- No Social Skills: After 3 1/2 seasons of everyone (including herself) blaming Anya's Literal Mindedness on having been a demon for 1,100 years, it turns out she was always like this. This doesn't explain how Anyanka fit so well with the Cordettes when she approached Cordelia.
- Overly Long Name: Mrs. Anya Lame-Ass-Made-Up-Maiden-Name Harris.
- Phlegmings: The giant spider demon drools over Buffy.
- Please Kill Me If It Satisfies You
- Punny Name: Aud (pronounced 'Odd')
- Retraux / Affectionate Parody: The flashback to Anya's life in Sweden takes the form of an Ingmar Bergman-type movie, including scratched film.
- Series Continuity Error: In the flashback to 'Once More With Feeling' Anya's hair is neither the same length, style or shade of blonde. Granted, she is wearing a wig.
- Shadow Archetype: Aud breeds rabbits, and plans to give them away for self-satisfaction and goodwill. She also declines sex with Olaf. Anyanka is a communist. Both contrast with capitalist, bunny-phobic, Loveable Sex Maniac Anya.
- Spock Speak: Anya's way of talking is spoofed via the overly-literal translations.
- Start of Darkness / Back Story
- Stealth Pun: Anya telling her 'honey' to drink his mead (honey wine).
- Standard Fifties House Wife: Anya has this look (before the Instant Costume Change) when she starts the "I'll Be His Mrs" song.
- Subtitles Are Superfluous: "Ha ha ha ha!" "Aaaargh!"
- Suicide By Slayer: Anya doesn't press her advantage, despite having knocked Buffy down a couple of times. When Buffy gets the drop on her, she doesn't move out of the way and is only saved by Xander tackling Buffy.
- Superpowered Evil Side: Anya puts up a serious fight against Buffy while in Game Face. Likewise when Willow is fending off the spider-demon with Some Kind Of Forcefield, she gets Black Eyes of Evil and snarls at the terrified Sole Survivor to stop whimpering.
- Suspiciously Specific Denial: Willow aceing her finals like magic, despite her lapse the previous year.
- Swivel-Chair Antics: Bored!Buffy in her cubicle, swiveling on her chair while balancing a container of pencils on her forehead.
- Technicolor Death: Halfrek's death.
- Tempting Fate: Xander says that Anya isn't going back to her vengeance demony ways. Cut to the aftermath of the frat house massacre, with a blood-splattered Anya crouched in the corner.
- Unusually Uninteresting Sight: Anya and Halfrek have dinner while the 1905 Russian revolution occurs outside. They pay no notice, even when a Man on Fire comes barging through the door.
- Villain's Dying Grace: D'Hoffyrn leaves Anya alive to agonize over Halfrek's death, assuming the Big Bad uber evil will finish her off anyway. However in later episodes he sends demon assassins to finish the job, implying he's had second thoughts. Presumably D'Hoffyrn realised that having a former 'daughter' of his teamed up with an enemy of the First might not be good for his health.
- Villainy Discretion Shot: Averted — after her introduction in "The Wish" Anya's vengeance murders have always been Played for Laughs due to the uncanny punishments, until this episode.
- We Have Reserves: After killing one of his own, D'Hoffyrn says there are many Woman Scorned out there, so he will always have more vengeance demons.
- What Measure Is a Non-Human?: When Willow confesses that Anya killed the frat boys, Buffy automatically decides that she has no choice but to slay Anya. When Xander calls her on it, reminding her that Anya is their friend and they should help her and reason her like they did Dark Willow, Buffy shoots that possibility down, stating that it's not the same thing because Willow is human and Anya is a demon.
- What the Hell, Hero?: Xander is furious that Buffy is willing to kill Anya as opposed to a vampire she was sleeping with (Spike). Buffy is infuriated and reminds Xander of her killing Angel to save the world. Given his own efforts to ensure Angel's demise, Xander is noticeably thrown.
- White Shirt of Death
- Anya's white dress in the frat house slaughter.
- Anya and Halfrek in High Class Gloves, sitting a dinner table with all the other guests slaughtered.
- Why Did It Have To Be Bunnies?: Averted — Aud is shown to be quite fond of rabbits before becoming a vengeance demon, implying her fear of them is a subconscious reminder of her innocent human past and her submission to Olaf.
- You Fight Like a Cow: Averted by Buffy, as Anya notes while fighting her."C'mon, Buffy. Don't you have a clever retort for me?"
- Your Approval Fills Me with Shame: Willow's reaction to D'Hoffryn's praise about flaying Warren Mears.