Buffy 3×18: Earshot

[Review by Mike Marinaro]

[Writer: Jane Espenson | Director: Regis Kimble | Aired: 09/21/1999]

Kudos to writer Jane Espenson for this little gem! Here lies a mostly stand-alone episode which does what BtVS is best at: using a supernatural device, telepathy in this case, as a method to say something profound about life. What really propels this above the rest is the fantastic writing. Buffy’s clocktower scene with Jonathan is quite powerful and very applicable. The rest of the happenings involve a whole lot of misleads and a ton of snappy humor. Aside from a couple relatively small problems I was very entertained from start to finish.

This time around I’ll begin with the one thing I didn’t like. That would be Buffy’s contuining distrust of Angel and his feelings for her. I went on about this in my review of “Enemies” [3×17] so I won’t beat it over the head here. I am pleased that Willow is at least giving her solid advice. Willow says, “just talk to him.” I’m also glad that she took Willow’s advice and cleared up that nonsense.

I really appreciated the amount of side characters used here. Not only does this work to give the viewers more choices of who could be committing the murder, but it also gives the writers an opportunity to continue developing characters like Larry and Jonathan which is always good. Jonathan is the one who’s getting a lot of attention though. He has become a really fascinating character over the first few seasons. A lot of things add up to his suicide attempt here. The biggest foreshadowing of this was in “Go Fish” [2×20] when some jocks were dunking his head in water and ridiculing him. Buffy helps him and he seems angry and embarassed about it. Jonathan says to Buffy in the clocktower “I just wanted it to stop.” If the suicide attempt hadn’t been by Jonathan this sequence wouldn’t have been nearly as meaningful. We kind of know and feel for him and his development logically leads to this. This was an incredibly smart move by the writers.

Buffy’s side of the clocktower scene was even more telling. The telepathy ability could have been used completely for laughs, but instead we get laughs and a vital discovery about teenagers in general. She tells Jonathan “My life happens to, on occasion, suck beyond the telling of it. Sometimes more than I can handle. And it’s not just mine. Every single person down there is ignoring your pain because they’re too busy with their own. The beautiful ones. The popular ones. The guys that pick on you. Everyone. If you could hear what they were feeling. The loneliness. The confusion. It looks quiet down there. It’s not. It’s deafening.” I think Buffy’s speech speaks for itself!

A smaller scene I really adored is when Buffy goes to see Angel right after getting her telepathy. Her intent is to read his mind and find out what this guy is thinking all the time. I have a feeling a lot of girls would love to be able have this ability with their boyfriends, and likely vice versa. But Buffy can’t read Angel because he’s a vampire! This forces them to just sit down and communicate to each other. Once again, words have been getting in the way of truthfully talking to each other. “Hush” [4×10] is an entire episode devoted to this idea. The lesson is to simply express you’re feelings to your partner in an honest and nice way; you’re likely to get an honest and nice response back as Angel gives here.

There’s a few things I wasn’t happy about along the way, but this is a fantastic ride. Several misleads, lots of laughs, great writing, and powerful drama. This episode rocks!


Minor Pros/Cons (+/-)

+ Buffy is insanely pretty in this episode.
+ Percy still being really kind to Willow because of the “Doppelgangland” [3×16] incident.
+ The amount of fun Buffy initially has when she realizes she can read minds.
+ The in-class lecture directly relating to Buffy’s feelings about Angel.
+ The library scene where everyone encounters Buffy’s telepathy first hand. This is hilarious.
+ Cordelia saying exactly what she thinks.
+ The camera work on Buffy as she’s being swamped by voices in the cafeteria.
+ Xander actually right with his guess that the lunch lady is going to do them all in.
+ Buffy doing everything she can to stop the murder even when she’s pretty much incapacitated.
+ Seeing Willow immediately take charge when Buffy’s down.
+ Willow’s interview with Jonathan mirroring the one in “Go Fish” [2×20] .
+ Xander getting side-tracked by Jello.
+ Buffy turning down Giles’ idea of her going to the Prom with Jonathan to boost his confidence. “What am I, Saint Buffy!?”

– Could the demons in the pre-credits scene be any cornier?


* Willow says to Jonathan, “We all have fantasies that we’re powerful, more respected. Where people pay attention to us … But sometimes the fantasy isn’t enough, is it Jonathan? Sometimes we have to make it so people don’t ignore us. Make them pay attention.” This in combination with her ‘interrogation’ of him from “Go Fish” [2×20] really foreshadows the popularity spell he casts in “Superstar” [4×17] .




49 thoughts on “Buffy 3×18: Earshot”

  1. [Note: Tobias Drake posted this comment on January 11, 2007.]

    It was mostly a good episode, but one thing I thought hurt the realism during the Jonathan suicide scene was the fact that he apparently needed to fully assemble a SNIPER RIFLE to shoot himself in the head? While I know we were supposed to think he was going to use it to shoot the kids, there’s still the problem that a sniper rifle is considerably harder for a kid in high school to get his hands on than a regular weapon, and for Jonathan’s ACTUAL intended use of it, completely unnecessary. The only reason he could have a sniper rifle in that scene is to make Buffy believe he was going to shoot other people.


  2. [Note: MikeJer posted this comment on January 12, 2007.]

    It could be that he only had easy access to a sniper rifle (maybe his dad hunts, who knows). Just sayin’. 🙂


  3. [Note: Tamora posted this comment on September 9, 2007.]

    Quite possibly my favorite episode in the series. Not the best, but my favorite. For all the many personal reasons.

    Yes, I’m still in high school. Suffering through every damn moment of it. So it’s nice to know that everyone else is suffering too. 😉

    But honestly, it’s the part with Jonathon that gets me. I love all the passing thoughts in the hallways – fragments and sentances we can barely hear. Sex, hilarity, scandal, but also the pain and actual anguish some students have to endure just to make it through the day. The scene in the clock tower just kills me – I weep every time.

    …If you knew me personally, I would have to kill you for having read that.

    But again, I find this episode, just about perfect, with moments of absolute pain and solemnity, broken just at the right moment by complete bouts of hilarity… “YOU HAD SEX WITH GILES?”

    …of course, you’ve gotta love Xander and Cordelia’s thought patterns. And Oz’s. “Buffy shares my thoughts and therefore becomes me. I cease to exist. Huh.”

    What does, however, scare the almighty hell out of me was the fact htat this episode was set to air around the date of the Clumbine shooting. The airing was postponed for obvious reasons, but I gotta admit, that’s one damn creepy coincidence right there.


  4. [Note: buffyholic posted this comment on October 25, 2007.]

    Amazing episode. We have plenty of laughs but also a vital message about life in general. I just love that Cordelia has no deep thoughts and in return says exactly what she thinks but Oz is the greatest by playing the philosopher. This episode mixes comedy with a very deep and meaningful message in a wonderful way.


  5. [Note: wilpy1 posted this comment on January 27, 2008.]

    Am I the only one who finds this episode over-rated? There’s some great dialogue and a little character development here – it’s also got some classic Espenson comedy – but I find the whole school massacre story preachy, and I’m surprised so many people like it.

    Also, the episode was yet another in a string of gimmick episodes that season. I’ll take good character material and an inventive plot over “what will Buffy be abe to do this week?!” any day.


  6. [Note: Andrew posted this comment on January 30, 2008.]

    This episode was mostly entertaining. One nice touch I liked that you didn’t mention is the way reading Cordelia’s mind is apparently utterly pointless, since she says everything that pops into her head anyway.
    The whole sniper rifle thing did bother me a bit- it seemed a very odd choice for a suicide weapon.

    Oh, and the bit with the dinner lady at the end was just plain awful, but it only lasted a minute or so. I mean, who, poisons people by tipping a large container clearly labeled “RAT POISON” into food?


  7. [Note: HarFang posted this comment on October 1, 2008.]

    For a standalone episode, this one is absolutely great! And it has one of my favorite Angelic moments : when he looks at Buffy with his usual somber expression and declares “I am a funny man”. I burst out laughing every time.
    I also like the whole conversation he has with Buffy: I love that he immediately guesses that Buffy is only babbling because she’s busy trying to read him; and he’s so touching when he talks about his feelings for her (which I think he only does here and in Helpless).
    On a side note, he really should do something about that door. It opens into direct sunlight, for God’s sake!! Every time someone comes or goes, he nearly gets incinerated!
    On the other hand, I really feel for Jonathan. Especially as I know what will happen in the next few years: he’s the one character that nobody ever cares about. And every time I feel that just maybe, if Buffy had gone to the prom with him…


  8. [Note: bigmoneygrip posted this comment on October 24, 2008.]

    I don’t know if this is corny or not, but if I were a high school counselor, or someone who helped or counseled high school students, I’d memorize Buffy’s speech, because it is spot on.


    I’m a sucker for slapstick and Giles running into the tree is a gem.

    The scoobies using a guise of “yearbook” to do the serial killer profiles. When I was in high school, that would have totally worked. You didn’t want to piss off anybody that worked on the yearbook.

    I wish we had someone like Freddy that wrote for our school newspaper. Ours was so lame. I loved reading the headlines from the papers on the wall in his office. And the reason he was hiding from Oz was ’cause he wrote a bad review of DAMB – which Oz totally agreed with!


  9. [Note: Sam posted this comment on November 27, 2008.]

    This may be the most insightful episode of the entire series. Joss Whedon had two goals when creating this series: To subvert the idea of the helpless blonde in horror movies, and to use the Hellmouth as a metaphor for the hell that is high school. This episode, which allows us to hear all the painful, self-hating thoughts that high schoolers actually go through–“I hate my body”/”She doesn’t even know I’m here” etc.–expresses, more than any other hour outside of My So-Called Life the loneliness and pain and suffering of high school. This is just brilliant. Plus, damn funny lines, too, in places.


  10. [Note: Sanjuro posted this comment on November 30, 2008.]

    I love, love, LOVE this episode. It’s the best episode about school shootings of any show I’ve seen, probably because it was made before Columbine and wasn’t an attempt to make a PSA (even though it aired well after the event). You mentioned it in the minor pros/cons section, but apart from the main plot, my favorite part of this episode is the Othello discussion. It’s just so perfect; not only does it form parallels with the Buffy/Angel relationship but with Angelus himself, who is so clearly derived from Iago and one of the few characters I’ve ever favorably compared to him, whom I believe is the greatest villain of all time (apart from Hitler, of course, but you know what I mean).


  11. [Note: Maddybee posted this comment on February 28, 2009.]

    Wow, I was surprised about how much I enjoyed this ep, when I read the summary I immediately thought I would be skipping over scenes, trying to catch the good parts but instead I watched every second.
    It’s rare in the BtVS seasons that you get a good episode that doesn’t include some stereo typical ‘doctor who’ (if your not sure google it :D) demons, these ‘scary monsters’ can get boring after a while, there has been a lot of adventurey stuff in season 3 and it was getting a little boring, with pointless plots and No Spike, But this episode really arose season 3 from being the worst season.
    I thoroughly enjoyed hearing everyone’s thoughts especially Xanders and Wesleys- talk about uncomfortable!
    I also think that when Xander realises that the dinnerlady was about to poisen everyone and he went out trying to get everyone to stop eating reminded me of the episode where Buffy works at the Double meat palace in season 6 and she thinks that there is human meat in the burgers she also tries to stop everybody eating in result- the scenes where almost identical.
    I think the part where Jonathan attempts his own suicide was very well done, and I honestly felt for him.
    But the highlight of the episode had to be when Giles walked into the tree!!
    A really refreshing episode with an interesting and original plot- a change from the usual ‘WE HAVE TO SAVE THE WORLD’ situtations.
    This is definitley A personal favourite of mine 😀


  12. [Note: Sunburn posted this comment on October 10, 2009.]

    This episode has the best ending EVER. I don’t care how silly it is, Giles walking into the tree cracks me up every time.

    Other things that amused me:

    Immediately after watching this ep the other night, me and my partner had the exact same exchange as TobiasDrake and Mikejer in the first two comments. 😀

    Cordelia verbalising every thought.

    Oz having such profound conversations with himself, expressed verbally as a single grunt.

    Angel’s ‘I’m a funny man’ line.

    I do love this episode.


  13. [Note: AttackedWithHummus posted this comment on December 9, 2009.]

    Another note that went unmentioned: I love that in Xander’s frantic attempt to not think about sex his times tables are completely wrong! These are the sort of little Joss-ey nuances that seperate Buffy from any other show on TV that even begins to compare with a Joss Whedon masterpiece.


  14. [Note: Elbie posted this comment on June 13, 2010.]

    I like how Willow tells Buffy that she needs to just talk with Angel to figure out what he’s thinking but then thinks, “She knows what Oz is thinking. I never know what Oz is thinking!”

    Also the lunchlady scene with the rat poison was not meant to be serious, it was hilarious! All shifty-eyes and stunned, wide-mouthed Xander.

    But can you even shoot yourself with a gun that big? I mean, I’ve never tried so maybe it’s possible but it seems like you’d have to have really long arms or some complex pulley system where you tug a string and it pulls the trigger (a la “The Incredible Machine”).


  15. [Note: nathan.taurus posted this comment on August 22, 2010.]

    AttckedWithHummus: It shows how bad my times tables are that I never thought of that. I should have done the math. 5 x 4 is 30? Of course.

    The Good:

    Wesley getting Giles with a good one. “And what took up the rest of the minute?”

    Buffy trying to get Giles’ attention. “Giles, Infect!”

    Angel jokes. “I’m a funny guy.” Watch out Oz.

    The fantastic library scene with everyones thoughts. Xander, what else would you think of. The look Buffy gives to Wesley. Priceless.

    All the voices in the cafeteria together add to the viewer feeling dizzy.

    Xander and Larry chat. The fantastic Buffy/Jonathan speech.

    The pause while Xander and the lunchlady just stare at each other. Hilarious.

    Giles walks into the tree:)

    The Bad:

    The classroom scene went on too long.

    Nancy. Why that crime against humanity.

    Jonathan has a rifle with scope for suicide. Maybe it’s the only thing he could get?

    The Ugly:

    The lunchlady stunt double. It looks like a man. They should have gotten padding.


  16. [Note: Andreas posted this comment on November 7, 2010.]

    I thought Joyce saying “We were teenagers!” as an excuse for sleeping with Giles was very clever of the writers. Is being a teenager really an excuse for immature behavior? Buffy and the Scoobies show through actions that you have to step up, even if you are young. Clever clever.

    The gun. I’m no huge expert but it seems to have a pistol grip which can be expanded into a rifle stock. This seems odd on a rifle. It would fit better for a shotgun. But a shotgun with a scope? Anyway have more info on this subject?

    Andrew said: “I mean, who, poisons people by tipping a large container clearly labeled “RAT POISON” into food?” Agreed, but it did save the writers from having to spend time explaining what was going on and it did allow them to make the scene when Xander catches her a real gem, at least before Buffy arrives. The expression on the lunch lady’s face when Xander catches her is priceless, as is the fact that they are both frozen and she just keeps pouring!


  17. [Note: John Roberts posted this comment on November 8, 2010.]

    Andreas –

    “I thought Joyce saying “We were teenagers!” as an excuse for sleeping with Giles was very clever of the writers. Is being a teenager really an excuse for immature behavior?”

    Of course, the candy in Band Candy didn’t turn the adults into teenagers, it turned them into parodies of teenagers. Nobody I knew had sex on top of a police car. (Twice.) Nobody you knew either.

    Which was mostly for fun; transforming Giles and Joyce into typical teens would have made for very boring television. But you are right, there is also an enclosed message, reminding us of the remarkable things that the Scooby teens do on a regular basis.


  18. [Note: NK posted this comment on February 12, 2011.]

    I tend to think of Earshot as the prototypical Buffy episode – at least during the High School years – and therefore a good choice for showing to people who’ve never seen the show. It’s very funny but also very meaningful, in a totally non-preachy way.

    I’m not usually that big on Espenson episodes, but she really knocked it out of the park with this one.


  19. [Note: Leo posted this comment on March 9, 2011.]

    “But can you even shoot yourself with a gun that big? I mean, I’ve never tried so maybe it’s possible but it seems like you’d have to have really long arms or some complex pulley system where you tug a string and it pulls the trigger (a la “The Incredible Machine”)”.

    It is posible. Someone did it in FULL METAL JACKET.


  20. [Note: smallprint84 posted this comment on April 20, 2011.]

    Sad trivia: of course this is the episode that was re-scheduled because of the Columbine massacre.

    Due to the weapon he would have used, a sniper rifle, and being in a clock tower, many people are under the mis-impression that he was planning mass murder. This was also contributed to by the fact that Buffy did telepathically hear thoughts of somebody planning to kill all the students, but it wasn’t that student.



  21. [Note: Merry posted this comment on September 1, 2011.]

    My favorite part is the Xander-lunch lady staredown at the end followed by his absolutely flailing “It’s rat poison!” as he knocks people’s lunch trays all over the place.


  22. [Note: Gemma posted this comment on December 19, 2011.]

    Classic! Buffy at its finest. This episode mixes the supernatural with a truthful emotion of hurt. Everybody hurts, feels pain but not in the same way as each other. The writers demonstrate this with the high school, the cheerleaders, the head sports jock, the newspaper editor, the teachers, Jonathan and Buffy herself. Through Buffy we hear the inner most thoughts of teenagers which exist within us all. The girl/guy who hates their body, the fear over a test, the hatred of being isolated and not noticed, jealous class mates and even thoughts on sex. Thanks Xander!

    This episode deals with an issue that has been a serious situation in US, school terror and mass murder. Portrayed excellently in a clock tower scene between Buffy and Jonathan. Buffy’s truthful proclamation that she doesn’t think much about him at all, no body does. They are all too busy with their own pain and worries to look to closely at anyone else. No matter who you are or what or where you come from pain is an inherent and quintessential trait that is within all of us. The mixture of the supernatural allowed Buffy to be an empath for a few hours, to understand the pain in one person is so quiet it goes by without notice to another. I like the analogy that a person’s mind is so loud and busy that an overload would be hard to cope with.

    The writing in this episode is amazing. The comedy within the script makes a great episode that doesn’t dilute the profound topic it address nor does it take itself too seriously in the supernatural side. An episode that is palpably not contrived in any way! The divergent thoughts the gang have are hilarious; Xander is sex obsessed, Wesley is Cordelia obsessed, Oz is as zen like inside as he on the outside, Cordelia literally has no thoughts that aren’t about herself! She literally says what she thinks! Its a testament to the characters that there thoughts are believable. Giles’ walking into the tree and Cordelia’s straight up asking a teacher if he is going to kill a bunch of kids oh and the worksheet questionnaires are just a few of my favourite moments. A stand alone that episode that is placed well within this cohesive season, it aids character fluency and interaction with a number of minor characters which prepares for the showdown in Graduation Day pt 2.

    I want to take a moment to give a shout to Jonathan, he has become a much loved character of mine from his appearance in Go Fish, which looking retrospectively set up this episode so well. This episode he turn foreshadowed his appearance in Superstar. Jonathan has been given some subtle character development over the seasons of BtVS, the emotions and the growth he goes though are great to see, he does have a moral code, In Dead Things in can’t cope with the death of Warren’s ex girlfriend. In Superstar he speaks to Buffy and apologises for the spell, its obvious he is still feeling how he felt in high school. Truly a great character to watch.


  23. [Note: Odon posted this comment on January 1, 2012.]

    – But can you even shoot yourself with a gun that big?

    Remove shoe, stick muzzle in mouth and toe in trigger guard. Fire.


  24. [Note: Wayne posted this comment on January 23, 2012.]

    This episode was amazing. One scene that always sticks out in my mind is the lunchroom scene. The way the tension slowly builds as Buffy is bombarded by every thought around her, until it breaks when she “hears” the death threat. There’s something genuinely creepy about being in a room with two hundred separate people and knowing that one of them — ANY one of them — is planning mass murder.

    But what really sells it (for me, anyway) is the moment right after. Buffy drops her tray in shock, spilling food everywhere, and the entire lunchroom bursts into applause. Embarrassing as it is to admit, I once experienced a similar high school moment myself.

    Best of all, this instant “snap back to reality” moment represents one of the show’s most understated strengths — the way it portrays Buffy’s inner turmoil as stark, central-themed drama, while still reminding us that all those around her continue to lead their own regular lives. (More examples of this can be found in Seasons Five and Six.)


  25. [Note: Gemma posted this comment on January 24, 2012.]

    I know that i have commented previously on this episode but i am going through season three (My favourite season followed by season one)

    I enjoy this episode, as i mentioned this season is amazing for laughs, comedy, drama and intent throughout. I give the writers kudos for this season because of the outstanding stand alone eps amongst such a prominent season, with a great villain.

    I love the relationship between Giles and Wesley, Burke! Ha!

    The questionnaires the gang use are classic and the use of introducing byline characters is great, it allows for the viewer to guess who is the killer.

    This episode sort of reminds me of the theme and setting of a first season episode only with the characters further developed?


  26. [Note: nitramneek posted this comment on January 28, 2012.]

    They should print Buffy’s speech to Jonathan, frame it and hang it on the door of every high school counselors office in America. It would cut down foot traffic by at least 50% don’t you think? Love the line: BUFFY: Like say, immortality? ANGEL: Exactly, I’m dying to get rid of that. BUFFY: Funny. ANGEL: I’m a funny guy. I just love DEADpan humor. I love Buffy’s response to Angel, “demonhype!” This has got me thinking that Demonhype Music Ltd. would have been the perfect name for

    Led Zeppelin’s original publishing company instead of Superhype Music Ltd. Jimmy Page studied the works of Alister Crowley and even buying his farm just outside of Loch Ness, Scotland. Page was often called The Sorcerer along with many other darker things in the day. I apologize for getting off track there,but great review as always Mike, I pretty much agree with you on every point. one question comes to mind though, they employ the same audio technique with Sookie Stackhouse’s telepathic abilities in the pilot episode of True Blood. Were they using Earshot as a blueprint or maybe an homage? Coincidence much?


  27. [Note: Gemma posted this comment on January 28, 2012.]


    You could argue that Buffy was something of a building block for the dramas to follow, its like SMG has been saying, Buffy gave the networks and the people something different something to aspire to. (not that i am taking a direct or indirect quote of Sarah’s, i don’t know her and would never do that because i haven’t the right, i’m simply summarising) Taking that into account you could speculate that they did use Earshot as a blueprint, a copy and paste job!


  28. [Note: Lilly posted this comment on April 2, 2012.]

    I gotta say, I am lovin’ the lunchlady! Wasn’t she also the blood donor lady in Anne and the Wig Lady/penis monster in Doublemeat Palace?


  29. [Note: Craig posted this comment on July 28, 2012.]

    I really can’t let the “suicide with a sniper rifle” thing slide. It’s incredibly implausible that anybody would commit suicide with a sniper rifle, it’s a ridiculous coincidence that Jonathan planned his suicide for the exact day that the lunchlady was planning a mass murder, and the fact that Jonathan was up in the clock tower by the school where he’d have a clear shot at students makes it obvious that the only purpose of his being up there was to be misleading for the audience.

    I can usually forgive the show’s contrivances and too-convenient coincidences, but this one is too far-fetched for me, as much as I do like this episode regardless.


  30. [Note: Daniel posted this comment on July 30, 2012.]

    I may be mistaken but wouldnt the sniper rifle have been very impractile for Jonathen to kill himself with since it is a long weapon he would have to have long enough arms to have any change using it , and how did he get it into the school to begin with.


  31. [Note: Alex posted this comment on July 31, 2012.]

    I hesitated to write this reply because it seems kind of bad taste, but we’re all grown ups here right? Without wishing to go into detail, I made the same complaint about Jonathan’s choice of weapon a few years ago, and someone explained to me how people can and indeed do commit suicide using such weapons. It may not have been the most sensible choice, but I always assumed that Jonathan had stolen it from a relative or something, and that it was the only thing available to him.

    That being said, I do agree with Craig’s other complaints about the more-far-fetched-than-normal coincidences. But in the end, the emotion of Jonathan’s scene wins out for me and I can forgive those implausible contrivances. I can understand how others might not be able to, though.


  32. [Note: Afterthebattle posted this comment on August 3, 2012.]

    Everyone looking at Buffy as she’s running towards the clocktower foreshadows the wonderful speech in The Prom, doesn’t it? Although they don’t act like it the students at Sunnydale High all know that Buffy is always there, looking out for them.


  33. [Note: nitramneek posted this comment on August 12, 2012.]

    I just rewatched this episode and another thought comes to mind. I find it awfully ironic that Buffy is worried (Infect? Infect? GILES! INFECT!?) about getting the aspect of the demon (all bumpy and a tail?), that as we learn in the episode Get It Done (7.15), that Buffy already has the essence of a demon as part of her true nature as THE SLAYER all along. I know that Buffy isn’t aware of this yet, but I still find it awfully ironic, don’t ya think?


  34. [Note: Seele posted this comment on January 30, 2013.]

    Does anybody else think that Xander’s reputation probably improved a little bit after everybody saw him keeping them from getting poisoned, even while somebody’s trying to kill him and he could’ve just been running for his own life?

    Come to think of it, is that part of how he was able to rally the senior class in the finale? Somebody on TV Tropes said that he was so important because 1) his friendship with Larry and brief stint on the swim team got him in in with the athletic crowd and 2) his relationship with Cordelia got him an in with Harmony’s crowd, but the popular crowd shunned Cordy for her relationship with him, not accepted him because of her, so was this more important to his ability to get everybody together than his dating Cordy was?


  35. [Note: Gemma posted this comment on January 30, 2013.]

    I guess so, Season 3 had many messages about identity for Xander, although he still struggled with it as did the others in Season 4. Season 3 i think is that Xander didn’t know who he was in terms of the scobby group rankings. He was friends with a slayer, a witch, a watcher and a werewolf. He was the Human one as pointed out by Cordelia. His taking charge in Graduation day pt II made him a commander along with Buffy in the battle, His paying for Cordelia’s prom dress and discovering Angel’s existence were sowing the seeds for when he would later be referred to the one who sees everything.


  36. [Note: Arachnea posted this comment on February 25, 2013.]

    That was an amazing standalone episode. I still can’t believe how they managed to balance so much humour with such a deep subject.

    The only thing that bothered me is how the character of Cordelia was treated from mid-season 3. The writers made her grow so much, then made her identical to season 1. At first it was understandable, but the snarky remarks became too much. What I mean is, we know she cares, we know that she’s smart and there’s more depth to her than she lets on.

    So here, while it was funny, I thought it wasn’t very respectful to her character to make her “thoughtless”. But it’s a nitpick, because everything else was top notch.


  37. [Note: mophead241 posted this comment on April 24, 2013.]

    In the foreshadowing section – this is one of the first times we see Willow leading the others, which is important in Bargaining part 1, and throughout the rest of series 6.


  38. [Note: Josh Man posted this comment on August 29, 2013.]

    I love this episode (and love Jane Espenson), but I think the most interesting part of the episode is something no one has yet mentioned. In the English class, the teacher makes the case that Othello and Iago are mirror images of each other. This refers to the characters of Buffy and Faith. Iago’s desires are Faith’s desires, and Othello believing in, trusting in, and following the lead of Iago in Othello are explained by the teacher as being because he saw so much of himself in Iago, not seeing, at first, how different they really were. This is bang on the relationship through the season of Buffy and Faith, and Buffy grasps that in this moment.

    I also loved that Cordellia speaks her mind so plainly. She simply is who she is.


  39. [Note: Nebula Nox posted this comment on November 7, 2013.]

    People object to the big bag marked rat poison being used by the lunch lady in her attempt to kill off the students. In a way it’s over the top, but I think it has a little bit of symbolism, too. The lunch lady may feel so ignored by the kids she feeds that she feels that even doing something so drastic won’t get her noticed.


  40. [Note: Hubert posted this comment on November 7, 2013.]

    Which is exactly the point that the show’s making about suicide/school shootings. A box marked “Rat poison” is no less conspicuous than an assault rifle. Nice point.


  41. [Note: Lydia posted this comment on June 5, 2014.]

    Aside from One Tree Hill, which has the best episode about school shootings I’ve ever seen, this was the second best. The Highschool is hell metaphor is used very well here. I love that Buffy was afraid she’d grow into an ugly demon, and the fun she had at first when she realized that she could read minds. Oz’s thoughts are the best. “Buffy becomes me. I cease to exist.” Priceless!
    It also has one of my favorite Buffy/Angel interactions ever. It goes from touching to hilarious so quickly when Angel deadpans, “I’m a funny man.”
    I laugh uncontrollably every time. Also, Giles walking into a tree.
    “You had sex with Giles! You had sex. WITH GILES. On the hood of a police car. TWICE?!” Hahahah! That just kills me everytime! And kudos for subtle continuity!

    I love when Buffy addresses real, genuine problems using supernatural metaphors.
    Being a High School student, I think they truly nailed it with this one.
    The first time I heard Buffy’s monologue at the end to Jonathon, I was bawling because not too long ago I found myself in Johnathon’s position myself.
    I didn’t want to commit suicide, but I did have the same issues he did.
    High school really IS hell! This episode is a gem. A great balance of hilarity, clever dialogue and pure awesomeness, wrapped into a solid real-life issue!

    This is one of the best stand alone episodes of Buffy for me!
    Also, thumbs up for Xander being right about the slightly contrived yet hilarious lunch lady. Another winner in my book!


  42. [Note: Jo posted this comment on July 12, 2014.]

    I always liked this episode. One thing I had never noticed was that the demon at the start ducks to miss the knife thrown by the demon behind it, which it would only have known was going to happen if they were communicating telepathically. I’m a little embarrassed by how many times I missed that lol. But I thought it was a clever foreshadowing of Buffy’s ‘talent’.


  43. [Note: Sarah posted this comment on March 30, 2015.]

    I have always loved the whole Wesley thinking about Cordelia and then Buffy giving him that stare. Classic! And when he comes back in the room and asks if she can still hear him in the other room? Love it. I also love Oz’s thoughts, there is not much but deep thinking that he kind of expresses in different ways everyday that are just not in words. He is just as wonderful as a person that he seems but we never get to see what he is really thinking. Xander thinking about sex, typical teenage boy, that kid (: I also loved(which no one mentioned) when Angel kissed Buffy on the forehead after he fed her the demon’s heart. Something small but kind of cute and we never see intimate moments like that often.


  44. [Note: OhPointyBird posted this comment on May 20, 2015.]

    yes, the whole Othello/Iago discussion, particularly the part about iago’s actions seeming spurious because he is not a fully-fleshed character, but simply the dark reflection of Othello. That is a very meta observation about the characterisation of Faith, whose actions are sometimes befuddling until we understand that she is simply a dark foil for Buffy.

    So much to love about this episode. May I give special mention to the beautiful low-budget editing, stunt work, etc, as Buffy leaps her way to the clock tower? Spectacular.

    Also nice to compare this to the famous set piece in The Voyage Of The Dawn Treader where Lucy is tempted into casting a spell that lets her hear what others are thinking. It also doesn’t end well, for different reasons.



  45. [Note: 4givemymoccasins posted this comment on October 26, 2016.]

    I love this episode except for the clock tower scene. Buffy’s speech is right and really insightful, it’s always important to remember people usually aren’t judging you, instead they’re worried about being judged and about their own problems. Everyone is struggling, a lot of people are unhappy.

    My main problem is that no matter how good this speech was, I think it was not a good idea to make it to Jonathan at that moment. He’s suicidal with a gun and Buffy comes off a bit harsh. I think it’s a good lesson to learn but someone so close to killing themselves won’t be helped by another person essentially saying “get over it” or “you don’t matter to people.” He’s a victim of merciless bullying and it just feels insensitive at the particular moment. Maybe later, when he’s in a better place even location-wise, it would have been okay. Right then, though, I could see it as something that could make a person pull the trigger.


  46. [Note: Unkinhead posted this comment on October 27, 2016.]

    I gotta disagree there. The point was to make him aware that he wasn’t alone in his despair and struggles, that it was everyone. Basically he attributed his pain to being a “short idiot”. Knowing it was irrelevant made it hopeful in the sense that he realized that everyone was with him.


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