"First Date"
Written by Jane Espenson; directed by David Grossman

In a continuation of the final scene of “Sleeper,” we again see the Bringer swing an axe at Giles. Giles quickly grabs the blade and beheads the Bringer. In the present, Giles tells Buffy and the potentials what happened while they walk through a cemetery. As he is talking about his instincts, Spike suddenly attacks him. They realize at the same time that Spike isn’t in pain and Giles isn’t the First. Spike says that Anya told him Giles was the First but Giles is more concerned with the fact that Spike’s chip isn’t functioning properly. Buffy explains that she had the Initiative remove the chip. Back at the house, Giles tells Buffy that she made a dangerous decision. She tells him that she was following her instincts, as he was talking about earlier, and he admits that he was lying - he knew the Bringer was there because his shoes squeaked. He worries that Spike might harm the potentials and Buffy mentions that Wood may not be trustworthy as well. She says that they must give Spike a chance, but he tells her that their connection is affecting her judgment.

At a home improvement store Xander meets Lissa (“special guest star” Ashanti) and asks her out for coffee. At school, Buffy sneaks into Wood’s office and snoops around for signs that he’s evil. He catches her and she lies that she’s looking for office supplies. He asks her to go to dinner with him that night and she accepts. After she leaves, he draws a knife from his jacket and puts it into a hidden compartment full of knives. At the Summers’ house, Willow and Buffy discuss Buffy’s “date.” Buffy wonders if she’s going to receive a promotion; Willow laughs, then admits that it’s possible. Buffy suspects that, since Wood’s office is right above the Hellmouth, he’s evil and is planning to kill her. Buffy admits that she thinks she likes Wood, even if he’s evil (because that wouldn’t be a first). Xander arrives and he and Buffy trade news about their dates. They tease each other until Giles returns home with Chao-Ahn (Kristy Wu), a new potential who he took shopping. Willow offers to do an Internet search on Wood and Lissa, but Xander tells her he’ll go into it without knowing if she’s evil so he can be surprised.

In the kitchen, Andrew sets up the new microwave (the old one having been destroyed by Dawn in “Conversations with Dead People”) and is visited by the First in Jonathan’s guise. First!Jonathan tells Andrew that he has an assignment for him but Andrew says that he’s working with Buffy in order to redeem himself. First!Jonathan points out that Buffy doesn’t usually make people work for redemption. He says that after the Hellmouth battle, Andrew will survive and be able to stay by his side. First!Jonathan tells Andrew to hurt the potentials, a mission which, for some reason, Andrew doesn’t find appealing. First!Jonathan tells him to use the gun that Willow apparently kept from “The Killer in Me.”

Anya attempts to get the “blood” out of one of Buffy’s shirts (not realizing that it’s the pizza sauce Dawn got on the shirt in “Conversations with Dead People”) and complains about Xander’s date. Buffy runs into Spike in the hallway and tells him that he should try going out as well. Xander meets Lissa at a coffee shop and comes off as a lovable doof, as usual. Willow, Dawn, Amanda, and Kennedy research Wood but are unable to find any information on him. Anya comes in with pictures that Giles has made for Chao-Ahn, who doesn’t speak English; the pictures (which are reminiscent of his slides from “Hush”) show Buffy, Bringers, and vampires and include a lot of blood. Giles decides to rethink his attempts to overcome the language barrier. Anya is upset that everyone has a date (“it’s Date Fest 2003”), and Giles is upset for other reasons - he feels that they should be focusing on the upcoming battle rather than worrying about their social lives.

Wood leads Buffy through an alley, promising her that they’re heading for a restaurant. They encounter a gang of vampires and Buffy first suspects that Wood has set her up before she sees him adeptly fighting them. They head into the restaurant and he promises to explain. At the coffee shop, Lissa and Xander discuss Anya and she tells him that he’s better off without her. She says that she has something fun in mind for them to do. Wood explains to Buffy that he’s battled vampires and demons before; she asks if he’s a freelancer and whether he knows who she is. He confirms that he is and does. He tells her that he made sure he was sent to work at Sunnydale High School because he knew it was over the Hellmouth, and that he mainly hired her because she’s the Slayer. Wood says that he wants to help out in the Hellmouth battle and Buffy asks him how he knew who she was. He explains that his mother was a Slayer (Nikki, last seen in “Fool for Love”) and was killed by a vampire when he was four. He doesn’t have any special powers, but he was raised by his mother’s Watcher and picked up some skills from him.

First!Jonathan tells Andrew to trap the potentials in the basement and then start shooting. (Good plan!) Andrew asks why Spike can’t do the job; First!Jonathan tells him “it’s not time for him yet.” Andrew asks if the First has any weaknesses (“kryptonite or allergies”) and First!Jonathan grows suspicious. “Are you wearing a wire?” he asks. In the dining room, Willow listens in with headphones as Dawn, Amanda, and Kennedy look on. First!Jonathan grows angry with Andrew for attempting to trick him. Andrew refuses to hurt anyone and says that when the Hellmouth battle is over, he will do penance for killing Jonathan. Willow thinks that she hears the First speaking to her through Andrew’s microphone, but First!Jonathan is actually approaching the room. “So many dead girls. There’ll be so many,” he says before disappearing.

In the school basement, Xander finds himself tied to the same wheel Spike was tied to in “Never Leave Me” in order to open the seal. He’s not too surprised that Lissa is evil and wants to use him to open the seal. He asks if she chose him because he’s friends with the Slayer and Lissa is impressed that he knows her. She begins to raise him up over the seal. Willow, Giles, Dawn, Anya, Amanda, Andrew, Spike, and Kennedy discuss the failure of their plan to record the First (which they wanted to do so that they could analyze its words). Andrew tells Spike that the First said it’s not his time yet. He explains that the First wanted him to kill the potentials and Giles decides that his theory that they should be preparing for battle has been proven.

Willow receives an encoded text message from Xander but can’t remember if it means he’s scored with his date or that she’s evil and trying to kill him. Smartly, the Scoobies decide that it’s the latter. After Willow is unable to reach Buffy via cell phone, Spike goes out to find her. He interrupts her dessert with Wood and tells her that Xander is in trouble. Indeed, Lissa is cutting him to open the seal. Wood drives Buffy and Spike to the school, possibly noticing that Spike casts no reflection in the rearview mirror. They arrive at the school in and Spike fights Lissa; Wood realizes that he’s a vampire. The seal begins to open and a Turok-Han attempts to escape. Woods gets Xander down and the seal closes, trapping the Turok-Han underneath. Buffy kills Lissa and Xander asks her, “So, how’s your date going?”

At the Summers’ house, Willow and a nervous Anya wait for Xander to return home. When Buffy finally brings him inside, Anya is upset to see that he’s in one piece. Xander vows to give up on dating (well, women, at least). Giles interrupts the teasing session to remind everyone that they are facing something serious and can no longer go out for “fun” evenings. Later that night Spike tells Buffy that he should leave town so that the First can’t use him against the potentials. She tells him that she needs him to stay for her. At his place, Wood is visited by the First in the guise of Nikki. He tells her that he’s going to help destroy the First and she asks him if he wants to know who killed her. He asks who it was and she responds, “You met him. You know him. You fought at his side.” Wood realizes that she’s talking about Spike and thanks her.

MORAL, or CRAMMING COMPLEX ISSUES INTO A NUTSHELL: Xander should never go on another date.

GRADE: B- Minus points for bad stunt-casting.


MEMORABLE QUOTES - Wood: “Um, what're you doing tonight?”
Buffy: “Preparing for tomorrow's counseling sessions.”
Wood: “No, really.”
Buffy: “Watching a reality show about a millionaire.”

Buffy: “He's good-looking, and he's - he's solid, he's smart, he's normal. So, not the wicked energy, which is nice 'cause I don't want to only be attracted to wicked energy. Or what if he is wicked, in which case, is that why I'm attracted to him?”
Willow: “I'm gonna wait for that sentence to come around again before I jump on.”

Xander: “Guys, guess what happened.”
Willow: “Buffy got a date!”
Xander: “No, I did. Fine. Way to steal my thunder.”
Buffy: “Sorry. If it makes you feel better, it's Principal Wood, and I think he's aligned with the First.”
Xander: “Also, like ten years older than you, right?”
Willow: “Which is like 100 years younger than your type!”
Buffy: “Yay. Someone who doesn't remember the Industrial Revolution.”
Willow: “I think they're gonna end up making out. ‘Oh, Principal Wood,’ she'll gasp, ‘I love your lack of wicked energy.’”
Buffy: “Watch it, or I'm gonna make you talk about your new girlfriend who you hold hands with under the dinner table and think we don't notice.”
Willow: “How 'bout yours, Xander? Is she evil?”
Xander: “Well, she's interested in me, so there's a good chance, but I'm hoping for the best.”

Willow: “Yeah, the system we set up a while back. Like codes. Uh, this one's either ‘I just got lucky, don't call me for a while’ or ‘my date's a demon who's trying to kill me.’”
Kennedy: “You don’t remember which?”
Willow: “It was a long time ago.”
Dawn: “Well, if we play the percentages….”
Giles: “Something’s eating Xander’s head.”
Anya: “Say, that’s gratifying.”

Anya: “I can't believe Buffy hasn't brought him home yet. His slut ate him up.”
Willow: “His slut didn't eat him up. And besides, I thought you were all angry at him.”
Anya: “My feelings are changeable but intense.”

Willow: “What happened?”
Xander: “What do you think happened? Another demon woman was attracted to me. I'm going gay. I've decided I'm turning gay. Willow, gay me up. Come on, let's gay.”
Willow: “What?”
Xander: “You heard me. Just tell me what to do. I'm mentally undressing Scott Bakula right now. That's a start, isn't it?”
Andrew: “Captain Archer….”
Xander: “Come on, let's get this gay show on the gay road. Help me out here.”
Buffy: “What if you just start attracting male demons?”
Dawn: “Clem always liked you.”

“Did you hatch out of a praying mantis egg in the old high school?” - Xander to Lissa (from the original script)

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