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Season 1, episode 09
Season 109
1st release (U.S.): 05/05/97
Production number: 4V09
Last update: 03/05/05

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SYNOPSIS by Sally Dye

Sarah Michelle Gellar (Buffy Summers)
Nicholas Brendan (Xander Harris)
Alyson Hannigan (Willow Rosenberg)
Charisma Carpenter (Cordelia Chase)
Anthony Stewart Head (Rupert Giles)

Kristine Sutherland (Joyce Summers)
Richard Werner (Morgan)
Burke Roberts (Marc)
Armin Shimerman (Principal Snyder)
Lenora May (Mrs. Jackson)
Chasen Hampton (Elliott)
Natasha Pearce (Lisa)
Tom Wynar (Voice of Sid)
Krissy Carlson (Emily)
Michelle Miracle (Locker Girl)

Written by Dean Batali and Rob Des Hotel
Directed by Ellen S. Pressman

WB, Monday, 9pm


The new principal forces Giles to run Sunnydale High's annual talent show and Buffy, Willow and Xander have to perform against their will. Things get worse as the talent show proves to be a deadly place when one of the participants is found with her heart removed and the clues all point to one boy and his ventriloquist puppet. TVTome.dom


This synopsis is by Sally Dye.

Rehearsals are taking place for a talent show to be held at Sunnydale High. Cordelia sings, very off-key, as Giles listens with a pained expression on his face. He stops her and says they will hear more at the dress rehearsal. Disgruntled, Cordelia leaves the stage. A tuba player is up next. Buffy, Willow and Xander come into the auditorium and sit next to Giles. They want to know how he finagled the plum assignment of directing the school talent show. Giles: "Our new fuhrer, Mr. Snyder." Giles says his career choice of librarian was meant to minimize actual contact with students, but Principal Snyder would have none of it. Buffy: "Giles, into every generation is born one who must run the annual talentless show." Giles says that if she had a shred of decency, she would help, or at least participate. Buffy says she'll take his role, and watch. Xander: "And mock," Willow: "And laugh." Buffy, Willow and Xander get up to leave and are confronted by Principal Snyder, who has overheard their conversation. He says they need to integrate more into the school, especially since they cut class yesterday. Buffy starts to explain that they were fighting a demon, but Willow pokes her in time. Principal Snyder decrees that they will be part of the talent show. All three are horrified, but Snyder says he's sure that they will come up with a wonderful act for the audience to watch...and mock...and laugh...at. Meanwhile, Giles is still watching various acts rehearse. The next act is a ventriloquist act -- Morgan and his dummy, Sid. Morgan is a very bad ventriloquist, and Giles is looking pained again, when the dummy begins talking in a different voice -- and this time Morgan's lips are not moving. Giles says he's sure that Buffy, Xander and Willow can come up with something equally exciting.

In the deserted dressing room after rehearsal, a girl is putting her costume in her locker when she hears a noise. She asks who's there, but there is no response. Suddenly something attacks her from behind. A voice says, "I will be flesh."

Rehearsals continue the next day, with Buffy, Xander and Willow attempting to do a dramatic scene as their talent act. Xander: "Whatever happened to corporal punishment?" They are interrupted by Morgan and Sid. Sid makes off-color remarks to Willow, and Buffy says that Morgan had better get a new shtick, or Sid might end up as a duraflame log.

Principal Snyder tells Giles he's going to keep an eye on "the bad element" at the school, and notes Buffy, Willow and Xander in particular. He says things are going to be different at Sunnydale High -- quieter. Just then screams are heard from the dressing room.

Giles reports that one of the dancers, Emily, has been killed and her heart removed. Buffy wants to know if it could have been a demon, but Giles says the fact that a knife was used might indicate a human murderer. But, demon or not, they decide to investigate.

They question the other cast members. Several of them say they saw Emily talking to Morgan, and one says Morgan seemed to be arguing with his dummy.

Buffy comes into the theater and finds Morgan talking to Sid, who is on a chair across the stage from Morgan. Buffy asks if Morgan has noticed anything weird. Morgan rubs his head as though he's in pain. Sid tells Buffy to back off. Buffy is startled, but Morgan puts Sid into his case and leaves. Buffy: "Cute couple."

Buffy goes to check out Morgan's locker. Principal Snyder interrupts her and wants to know what she's doing there after hours. Buffy says she's getting something for a friend. She opens Sid's case, but it's empty. Morgan and Sid are watching her from around the corner.

Sid and Morgan argue. Morgan says he can't do it. Sid: "It's the only way. Just one more time and I'll be free." Morgan: "I won't." Sid: "I will."

When Buffy goes to bed that evening, Sid is watching from outside her window. Buffy is awakened when she hears footsteps pattering in her room, and then something jumps on her. She pushes it away and screams. Joyce comes running in. Buffy decides it may just have been a nightmare. Joyce says she shouldn't go to sleep with the windaw open. Buffy: (to herself) "I didn't."

A magician's act is rehearsing on stage, but it doesn't go as planned. Cordelia argues with Giles about when her song is scheduled in the program. Giles comments on her hair, and Cordelia runs off to check it. Giles: "Xander was right. It worked like a charm." Buffy comes in and wants to know where Morgan is. She says not to look at her funny, but she thinks that Sid was in her bedroom last night, alone and alive. Giles, Willow and Xander all look at her funny.

Giles says he may have a lead on possible demon involvement. There is a group of demons who periodically need a brain and a heart to maintain their existence. If one of them is here, it will be wanting a brain next.

In class, Buffy watches Morgan, who is holding Sid. Sid turns to look at Buffy, and Cordelia teases her that the dummy has eyes for her. The teacher calls on Morgan, but he is not paying attention, and Sid says that Morgan has other things on his mind. The teacher is not amused and takes Sid, putting him in a closet.

After school, Morgan comes to retrieve Sid. The teacher lectures him about paying attention and then goes to the closet to get Sid, but he's not there. Morgan panics.

Buffy, Willow and Giles enter the library to find Xander holding Sid. Buffy is creeped out when Xander tries to make Sid talk. Xander says Morgan is now alone, so Buffy should go try to talk to him. Buffy leaves, and Willow and Giles go to check the card catalog for more demons. Xander sits Sid in a chair and works on his homework.

Buffy looks for Morgan at the theater. She hears a noise and is investigating it when Principal Snyder appears. He says it is not safe for Buffy to be there...alone. Buffy says she can take care of herself.

Willow finds a passage that discusses how inanimate objects such as dolls or mannequins can be possessed of a consciousness and try to become human by harvesting organs. Xander looks up to see that Sid is gone and shouts out, bringing Willow and Giles running.

Buffy continues to search for Morgan and finds his body in the costume department. His head has been cut open. Just then a chandelier falls on Buffy, knocking her out. When she comes to, she hears footsteps running away. Suddenly Sid is there and tries to stab her. She knocks him away and finally gets out from under the chandelier. She pins Sid to the wall and tells him that it's over, that he will never be human. Sid: "Well, neither will you." They each look at the other: "What?!"

Sid explains to a stunned Giles, Buffy, Willow and Xander that he is a demon hunter. He was cursed by another demon and put into dummy form. He says he had thought that Buffy was the demon because she's strong, limber...nubile. But now he knows that the demon has a heart and a brain and can keep its human form for another seven years. He says originally there were seven demons -- he has killed six, and if he can kill the last one, the curse will be lifted and he will be free. He says that whoever is missing from the cast was probably the demon. Giles realizes that it is almost time for the show to start and runs for the theater.

Buffy and Sid watch the stage from a catwalk. Sid says that when the curse is lifted, he will be able to die free. He wants to know what Buffy's gig is. She tells him she's the slayer. He's impressed -- he says he knew a slayer in the '30s and they had some times. Of course, he adds, that was pre-dummy. Below, Giles gets everyone on stage. They all seem to be there. When they go backstage, Buffy leaps down. She and Giles decide the demon must not have been in the show after all. When she looks up, Sid is gone.

Buffy goes looking for Sid. She feels something dripping on her and suddenly a brain falls down into her hands. She drops it on the floor with a shudder.

Buffy is afraid her hands will never be clean. She, Willow and Xander wonder why the demon apparently abandoned the brain -- Morgan was one of the smartest kids in school. They look at his file and see that he has had a lot of sick days. They find that he had brain cancer. Buffy says that means the demon is still looking for a healthy, intelligent brain. Xander: "That means I'm safe." Buffy and Xander turn to look at Willow, the smartest person they know. Buffy says at long as she's with them, Willow will be safe.

Giles is helping the magician with his act, a guillotine. The magician, Marc, says that his assistant got sick and Giles needs to fill in. Giles lies down on the guillotine and Marc locks him in place.

Buffy realizes that the demon probably still is a member of the cast, and Giles is with them. Xander says that Giles can take care of himself because he's really...smart. Buffy takes off at a run for the theater, with Willow and Xander following. She gets there just as Marc is cutting the rope to drop the blade on Giles' head. She tackles Marc and they fight around the stage. The rope breaks, but Buffy catches it before it can cut Giles' head off. Marc attacks her again and Willow and Xander arrive and try to get Giles out of the guillotine. Marc reverts to his demon form and grabs Buffy around the throat. Suddenly Sid leaps onto the demon's back, stabbing him over and over again. Willow and Xander get Giles out of the guillotine just as Buffy throws the demon onto it. The blade comes down and cuts off the demon's head. Sid says they have to cut out the demon's heart and it will all be over. Buffy: "Let me." Sid: "I got it." He plunges the knife into the demon and then collapses. Buffy picks him up and holds him: "It's over." As she turns around, the curtain goes up to reveal the audience looking stunned at the tableau on stage. Principal Snyder: "I don't get it. Is it avant-guard?"

Through the credits, Buffy, Willow and Xander perform a stilted scene from "Oedipus Rex", ending with Xander forgetting his lines and Willow freezing and then running offstage.


The initial airing of this episode featured an extremely funny scene over the credits in which Buffy, Willow, and Xander perform a piece from the play Oedipus Rex. The scene was not included in repeat airings on the WB Network, but can be seen on the episodes on FX.

Armin Shimerman (already well known for playing Quark on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine), is introduced as Sunnydale High's new Principal, Snyder, in this episode. He would continue to be seen semi-regularly until the end of Season 3, where he meets his demise on the final day of school ('Graduation Day, Part II').

Willow running off stage during the play was ad-libbed by Alyson Hannigan, who thought that stage fright would be well suited to her character. For the next episode, Joss Whedon used stage fright as Willow's worst nightmare, and it has become a running topic throughout the series.

This episode takes place one day after the last episode, when Buffy defeated Moloch.

Principal Snyder makes a reference to Principal Flutie being eaten (cf. "The Pack"), the (alleged) suicide (in the last episode), the missing persons (Dr. Gregory in "Teacher's Pet") and the spontaneous cheerleader combustion (cf. "The Witch").

Fast National Rating: 1.9. Rank: 9/12 Wb shows.

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