Written by David Fury and Jane Espenson; directed by James A. Contner

Buffy and Riley are still in her dorm room, agreeing that they need to talk (see “Hush”). “What are you?” Riley finally asks. “Capricorn on the cusp of Aquarius,” she replies. She asks what he is and he says that he can’t tell her. She seems to have already figured it out - he’s part of a military group that captures vampires and demons (hostile subterrestrials, or HSTs) and does experiments on them. Buffy accuses him of lying about his background (“ever been to Iowa, Riley?”) but he assures her that he told her the truth. She tells him that she’s the Slayer, but he’s not familiar with the term. They compliment each other’s fighting, but Buffy is disappointed that she’s found another guy with a secret identity when she was looking for someone normal. She says that they need some time to adjust to their new information, and agree not to reveal each other’s identities. Just before Riley leaves, Amy the rat freaks out and suddenly the room starts to shake. Riley is slightly excited, citing that he just experienced his first earthquake. Worried, Buffy says that it’s not hers (see “Prophecy Girl”).

Xander and Spike deal with leaky pipes in Xander’s basement, and Xander tells Spike to fix them. Spike prepares to hit Xander with a wrench, but the chip keeps him from doing anything. Willow returns to her and Buffy’s dorm room, announcing that another dorm, which doesn’t have electricity, is having an “aftershock party” that night. Willow suggests that Buffy invite Riley, but Buffy says that he’s probably busy. At Giles’, Buffy expresses her worry that the earthquake is an indication of something bad, but Giles reminds her that they do live in Southern California. He tries to change the subject to the commandos, but Buffy keeps wondering if they should be keeping an eye out for other signs of an apocalypse. In the Initiative, Riley asks Forrest what a Slayer is. “Thrash Band. Anvil handed guitar band with delusions of Black Sabbath,” Forrest replies. Riley specifies that he means the Slayer, and Forrest says he thinks it’s a myth that monster parents tell their kids to scare them. He teases Riley for believing that the Slayer is real, and says that demons are just animals. They note that the “animals” seem to have been unsettled by the earthquake.

At the party that night, Willow runs into Percy (last seen in “Graduation Day, Part 2”) and his girlfriend, Laurie. Willow tries to make conversation, but Laurie seems bored by her and pulls Percy away. A guy fixing drinks in one of the dorm rooms is clawed by a demon. Willow overhears Laurie and Percy talking about her; she grows upset when Percy calls her the “captain of the nerd squad.” She heads into a dorm room to lie down for awhile. The electricity comes back on and Willow is horrified to see that she was lying in bed with the dead student. She sees that a pyramid with an eye in it has been carved into his chest. Xander returns home to see that Spike hasn’t fixed the pipes. Spike tells him not to turn around and Xander fears that something horrible has happened. “Don’t look at me,” Spike says. Xander turns to see him wearing a Hawaiian shirt and shorts - he accidentally shrunk his own clothes and had to put on some of Xander’s. Xander is understandable amused, but Spike demands that he get him new clothes. Xander stands up to him, saying that Spike can’t hurt anyone and that his threats are pointless.

Buffy arrives at the party just as the student’s body is being taken away. Willow tells her that she found the student, who had a symbol on his chest, and complains that Percy called her a nerd. In their dorm room, Riley and Forrest play with a Nerf basketball (though Riley isn’t very good this time) and Riley asks Forrest if he thinks Buffy’s cool. Graham arrives and tells them about the student killed at the party. Riley tells them to hold off on looking for the culprit until they’re sure that it’s an HST. The Scoobies assemble at Giles’ and complain some more about Percy. Willow draws the symbol on the student’s chest, and Buffy thinks it looks familiar. Giles announces that there is an impending apocalypse and the Scoobies reply, “Again?” Buffy heads to the cemetery and spots a crypt with the symbol on it. Inside, she spots the demon that killed the student stealing children’s bones. She fights him, but he runs off just as Riley arrives.

Buffy asks why Riley didn’t go after the demon, and he says that he wouldn’t go after it by himself without weapons or backup. She, of course, would, but he reminds her that he’s not the Slayer. He calls in backup (amusingly, his call name is Lilac) and tells Buffy that he came looking for her. She wants to focus on finding the demon, but he wants to talk about their relationship. She tells him that they can’t be together - her life is too dangerous, and her relationships are always doomed, which she can’t deal with right now. Buffy says that Riley thinks of demon-fighting as a job, but for her, it’s fate. She leaves without him to find the demon. The Scoobies reconvene at Giles’, where he tells them that the demon Buffy encountered is a Vahrall demon. As they examine ancient texts for more information, Riley gives the commandos technical information. The Scoobies find out that the demon is preparing to perform a ritual called the Sacrifice of Three using the blood of a man, a child’s bones, and something called the word of Valios. Buffy is determined to find the word of Valios to stop the demon.

In Xander’s basement, Spike has positioned a stake on a table and is preparing to fall on it and kill himself. His suicide attempt is interrupted by Willow and Xander, the latter of whom complains that Spike was going to die in his clothes, and would have liked to have done the honors himself. Willow protests that they can’t let Spike kill himself, but Spike disagrees, reminding her that if he could, he would kill them. He asks if Willow thinks he’s frightening, and she admits that she doesn’t. She tells Xander that they’ll have to take him along with them to the museum they’re going to for research. Xander cheers up Spike by telling him that the world might be ending.

Downtown, Buffy runs into Riley again, finding him tracking the demon’s pheromones. He tells her that she’s being pessimistic about their relationship and that he doesn’t see anything potentially negative between them. They engage in a conversation using the metaphor of being fry cooks and Riley says that Buffy’s situation isn’t as horrible as she thinks it is. He says that she likes being dark because it’s easier. She continues to turn him down. Willow, Xander, and Spike have been unsuccessful at finding out information on the word of Valios, and Spike says that they should be happy because they don’t have much to live for anyway. Xander lives in a basement, and Oz left Willow; they’re just losers. Willow notes that he wants to make them mad so that they’ll stake him, and protests that she and Xander help fight evil. Spike replies that they’re just “groupies” and that Buffy would be better of without having to worry about them. He walks off, pleased with himself.

At home, Giles finds a picture of the word of Valios, a talisman, and realizes that he actually has it. Unfortunately, he is suddenly attacked by three Vahrall demons. The Scoobies find him later and note that the demons are probably already making their sacrifices. Giles announces that they’re going to open the Hellmouth. “Looks like we’re going back to high school,” Buffy says. The gang heads over to the ruins of the school, Buffy complaining that they’re bringing Spike along. They find the demons and Buffy starts to fight them while Xander grabs the blood and tells Willow to grab the word of Valios. She gets the bones and tosses them to Xander, who tosses them right back. She throws them to Spike, who isn’t thrilled (“Right. Perfect.”) that the demons will now be drawn to him and he can’t fight back. One of the demons grabs the blood from Xander and jumps into the Hellmouth. “Okay, I guess I won,” Xander says.

The ground begins to shake and Xander realizes that the three Vahrall demons are the sacrifices in their ritual. Spike, who’s being attacked by another demon, gets fed up with being beaten up on and hits back. He prepares himself for pain, but suddenly realizes that there isn’t any. “I can hurt a demon!” he announces. He celebrates by beating up the demon and throwing it into the Hellmouth, despite Willow and Xander’s warnings. Buffy yells for everyone to get out, since the school is about to collapse, and they head out. Buffy fights the last demon and is soon joined by Riley. The demon grabs the word of Valios and jumps into the Hellmouth. Buffy tells Riley that she’s going down after him and he attaches a cable to her so that she can get back out. She jumps in and pulls the demon back out, stopping the ensuing earthquake.

Outside, Riley notes that Willow and Xander are there and lies that he was playing paintball, his excuse for wearing camouflage. Xander lets him know that they know about the commandos. Riley spots Spike and finds him familiar (see “The Initiative”), but Spike adopts a horrible southern accent and manages to convince him that he’s a friend of Xander’s. The next day, Buffy drops by Riley’s dorm room and he criticizes himself for failing to remain stealthy around the Scoobies. She doesn’t seem too concerned - she’d rather kiss him. In Xander’s basement, Spike tries to convince Willow and Xander to go fight more evil so that he can make up for lost time. They aren’t very receptive.

MORAL, or CRAMMING COMPLEX ISSUES INTO A NUTSHELL: Some people shouldn’t wear shorts.

GRADE: B- Only redeemed by Spike, surprisingly.

MEMORABLE QUOTES - “I’m the Slayer. Slay-er? Chosen One. She who hangs out a lot in cemeteries? You’re kidding. Ask around. Look it up: Slayer comma the.” - Buffy to Riley

Willow: “Well, Porter dorm is completely blacked out. So, naturally they are dealing with the crisis the only way they know how: ‘aftershock party.’”
Buffy: “Ah, this from the dorm that brought us the ‘Somebody Sneezed’ party and the ‘Day That Ends in Y’ party.”
Willow: “They do seem to be pretty generous with the milestones.”

Giles: “It was an earthquake, Buffy. A not uncommon occurrence in southern California. No reason to think it was anything more.”
Buffy: “Oh, I so have a reason. A darn good reason. The last time we had an earthquake, I died.”
Giles: “Yes, I know that, and therefore, I completely understand your anxiety.”
Buffy: “Oh, good. Because I’d hate for my little untimely horrible death concern to be ambiguous.”

“That’s it! I am way past due with you. I hate to break it to you, O Impotent One, but you’re not the big bad anymore. You’re not even the kind of naughty. You’re nothing but a waste of space – my space! And as much as I always got a big laugh watching Buffy kick your shiny white bum, as much as I know I can give you a little bum-kicking myself right now, I’m here to tell you something. You’re not even worth it.” - Xander to Spike

“I wasn’t sure where the party was, and then I saw the flashing lights and the ambulance, and I was like, ‘Right, of course! Death, carnage – it’s a Buffy party!’” - Buffy

Riley: “Buffy - she’s pretty cool, isn’t she?”
Forrest:Yes already, she’s cool, she’s hot, she is tepid, she’s all-temperature Buffy.”

“It’s kind of the CBS logo. Hey, could this be the handiwork of one Mr. Morley Safer?” - Xander, upon seeing the symbol

Giles: “It’s the end of the world.”
Buffy/Willow/Xander: “Again?”
Giles: “It’s, ah, the earthquake, that symbol - yes.”
Buffy: “I told you. I-I said ‘end of the world,’ and you’re like, ‘Pooh-pooh, Southern California, pooh-pooh!”
Giles: “I’m so very sorry. My contrition completely dwarfs the impending apocalypse.”
Willow: “No, I-it can’t be. We’ve done this already.”
Giles: “It’s the end of the world, everyone dies. It’s rather important, really.”

Buffy: “Riley, I just...can’t.”
Riley: “Can’t talk?”
Buffy: “Can’t any of it. I can’t be with you. It’s just a huge, black pit of a mistake and I can’t go there again.”
Riley: “Again? You’ve dated me before?”
Buffy: “No! Look I was involved…. You don’t know what my life is like.”
Riley: “But I’m dying to find out.”
Buffy: “‘Dying’ being the operative word here. Okay, there is too much risk. There is too much.... It’s just doomed! And I can’t do doomed again right now. Sorry.”
Riley: “I-I don’t understand where this is coming from. I know you like me. And it’s not like we don’t have anything in common.”
Buffy: “But that’s not enough.”
Riley: “Buffy, I’m thrown by this, I’m confused.... But I can feel my skin humming, my hands, my every inch of me. I’ve never been this excited about anybody before. I’m not trying to scare you, and I’m not going to force myself on you. But I’m, by God, not going to walk away because I think it might not work. I don’t know what’s happened in your past....”
Buffy: “Pain…death…apocalypse. None of it fun. Do you know what a Hellmouth is? Do you have a fancy term for it? Because I went to high school on it, for three years. We do not have that much in common. This is a job to you.”
Riley: “It’s not just a job.”
Buffy: “It’s an adventure, great. But for me, it’s destiny. It is something that I can’t change, something that I can’t escape. I’m stuck!”
Riley: “You don’t have to be. You’re not in high school anymore. You can change things.”

Spike: “It’s no concern of yours.”
Xander: “Is, too. For one thing, that’s my shirt you’re about to dust. For another, we’ve shared a lot here. You should have trusted me enough to do it for you.”

Xander: “Think of the happy. If we don’t find what we’re looking for, we face an apocalypse.”
Spike: “Really? You’re not just saying that?”

Riley: “It’s just - this thing, this you and me thing, it’s stupid!”
Buffy: “I know. Which is why we can’t do it, the you and me thing.”
Riley: “No, I mean you’re stupid. I mean.... I don’t mean that. No, I think maybe I do.”
Buffy: “Wow, with sweet talk like that, you’ll definitely melt my reservations.”

Riley: “It just turns out, we are even more well-matched than we thought we were. I mean, you’re a…fry cook, and so am I!”
Buffy: “Yeah, but you’re an amateur…fry cook, and I come from a long line of fry cooks that don’t live past 25.”
Riley: “Which is exactly the attitude I’m talking about. Look, I know the risks of what we do. I also know it’s more rewarding than any other job on the planet – and fun.”
Buffy: “Fun? The last person I know that believed that is in a coma right now because she had so much fun on the job.”
Riley: “I’m not saying that you shouldn’t take your work seriously.”
Buffy: “That I should just turn my frown upside-down? Is that it? I wish I could. But this isn’t the kind of gig where you can just hang it up at the end of the night and snuggle with your honey.”
Riley: “But why? Why can’t it be?”
Buffy: “Because I’ve tried it, okay? And every time, it just fell apart. And then I get sucked right back into the über evil.”
Riley: “Welcome to the story of the world. Things fall apart, Buffy. And evil – it comes and goes. But the way people manage is, they don’t do it alone. They pull each other through. If you weren’t so self-involved, you’d see that.”
Buffy: “You have no idea what you’re talking about. You barely know me.”
Riley: “I know that it’s not just a job thing. I’m sure that there is some good-looking guy that done you wrong in there, too. But mostly I think you want to stay down in that dark place because maybe it’s safer down there.”
Buffy: “You are so out of line.”
Riley: “No. See, I don’t think so.”

“Mayor meat. Extra crispy.” - Xander, after stepping on something in the ruins of the high school

Xander: “It’s kinda weird being back, isn’t it?”
Willow: “Yeah. Everything seems so small…and more charred and ruiny.”

“What’s this? Sitting around watching the telly while there’s evil still afoot. That’s not very industrious of you. I say we go out there and kick a little demon a%$! What, can’t go without your Buffy, is that it? Too chicken? Let’s find her! She is the Chosen One, after all. Come on! Vampires! Grrr! Nasty! Let’s annihilate them. For justice…and for…the safety of puppies…and Christmas, right? Let’s fight that evil! Let’s kill something!” (no response from Xander and Willow) “Oh, come on!” - Spike to Xander and Willow

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