Season 3, Episode 1 (Episode 35 of entire series)
This episode marks the return of the series for its third season. Buffy hasn't been in Sunnydale all summer and the gang's been picking up her slack in the arena of vampire slayage. This episode explores the teen runaway theme, and also marks the return of Larry and Chanterelle. The episode picks up where Buffy's turned her back on everyone and sort of lost herself along the way. Remember Whistler's remark in Becoming part 2 about having one more thing to lose? Buffy finds herself in Hell, literally, spiritually, etc., and eventually returns home to Sunnydale. It's a long way to go, but getting there is half the fun...
Show begins with Willow, Xander, and Oz in the cemetery. They're trying to dust the newly-risen vamp of Andrew Hoelich, but are unsuccessful. It's here that we learn that Cordy was away for the summer, and that Oz woke up at three in the afternoon. Willow voices her concern about Buffy a lot.
Meanwhile, Buffy's dreaming about Angel, who tells her that he'll always be able to find her. Buffy wakes up and goes over to the window to survey the bleakness of her new surroundings.
At school the next day, Willow's surprised to see Oz...apparently he was able to keep her in the dark about his skipping summer school. Looks like he's gonna be a full-time student this year, repeating senior year... Cordy and Xander have some awkwardness, but that's nothing new. Giles later gets a lead as to where Buffy might be, so he takes off.
Y'know, Xander's pretty much the only one who's got a realistic perspective about Buffy...he tells Willow that he thinks Giles will find Buffy "when she wants to be found." When Giles's lead fails to turn anything up, he stops by Joyce's place -- she tells him that she blames him for Buffy's disappearance. It sort of all becomes a question of identity...
Meanwhile, Buffy's doing time as a waitress in Helen's Kitchen...she's no longer indignant when guys pat her on the rear -- remember, she flipped Larry for this in Phases! -- and she's just kind of existing as Anne. When one of her customers, Lily, seems to recognize her, she takes off.
The question of identity is a big theme in this ep., too, along with the runaway thing...why else would Buffy see a bunch of old-looking folks muttering, "I'm no one," over and over? Anyhoo, Buffy runs into a nebbish-looking guy named Ken. He yaks about despair and hope and invites her to come to the Family Home to find what she's missing, but she declines. Anyhoo, at some point, Lily's come up to Buffy and told her that she knows who she is, and invites her to go to a rave. This happened before Ken-the-friendly showed up, I think. Next thing you know, Lily comes to Buffy for help...Rickie's missing, so they stop at the blood bank to see what's up. Apparently, you can get free cookies if you give blood.
The blood bank lady tells them that Ricky --that's how it's spelled on his record -- hasn't been in lately, so Buffy goes elsewhere to look for Rickie -- that's how it's spelled on Lily's arm. She eventually finds him, in the form of a shriveled-up (or, okay, old) man. How'd she recognize him? The big tattoo that bore Lily's name in half of a heart probably helped her i.d. him. Anyhoo, Buffy tells Lily the news, and Lily freaks out and leaves. She's picked up by a solicitous Ken -- that kind of construction, "a" plus an adjective and the person's name bugs me, but I'm using it anyway. Ken takes Lily back to the Family Home, where he tells her that Rickie is waiting for her. Okay so Lily's not the brightest star in the sky...she goes with him.
Buffy goes back to the blood bank to check out the records and notices that bunches of them are stamped: Candidate. Turns out the lady at the bank tells the Family Home which donors are healthy.
Buffy goes back to the Family Home and she and Lily are sucked into this black liquid goop that takes them into another dimension/reality -- one where people exist only to be slaves and have no identity. She does the whole fighting bit, saves everybody, and bashes Ken's head in, probably...they didn't show that part.
Back in Sunnydale, the gang's gone on a vamp hunt, using Cordy as bait. Xander and Cordy smooch after Andrew Hoelich is dusted.
After the big showdown, Buffy leaves Lily her apartment and job and says she'll check up on her. The cool thing about this episode, I think, is when Buffy introduces herself to the Hell Minion who asks her her name and who expects to hear, "I'm no one." Buffy introduces herself thusly (thusly?): "I'm Buffy, the vampire slayer...and you are?" Identity in hand (yeah yeah, let me be figuratively speaking, okay?), Buffy returns to Sunnydale.
Of course, she's still expelled, so who knows what'll happen on that front.
1. Cordy attacked the vampire from behind, causing it to be smooshed into Xander's stake.
2. Buffy fought off the Hell Minions.
3. Chanterelle/Lily pushed Ken over the edge of a platform.
4. The gate fell on Ken and Buffy bashed his brains in with some spikey axe-type thing.
1. Buffy's middle name is Anne.
2. Larry's noticed that the school "loses" folks.
3. Oz isn't big on the book-learnin' during summer school.
4. Joyce blames Giles for Buffy's disappearance.
5. People actually do use the library on the first day of school!
6. Buffy makes wisecrackin' at the evildoers look easy! (But as Willow and the gang find out, it's more difficult than it looks!)
7. Livin' on the street makes you age rapidly and having no identity sucks.
1. Sunnydale High School
2. The cemetery
3. The Bronze
4. Some streets
5. Buffy's house
6. Helen's Kitchen
7. Hell, more or less
8. Buffy's apartment
9. A blood bank
10. Family Home
11. The beach (in Buffy's dream)
7. Joyce Summers
10. Andrew Hoelich
11. Chanterelle (aka Lily)
13. Random Truckers
14. Blood Bank Lady
15. Rickie Thomas
16. Mr. Miller
The ABCs of Sunnydale