Written by David Fury; directed by James A. Contner

Buffy and Angel interrupted their own indoor picnic at the mansion for an impromptu fake fight, which Buffy wins by “staking” Angel with a baguette. They try to avoid the subject of sex and change the subject to Buffy’s 18th birthday, which is that weekend. She tells Angel that her father is coming to visit and will be taking her to an ice show. She heads to the library, where Giles has her study “vibratory stones,” despite the fact that she’s bored and doesn’t care. Giles tells her that, since Faith is more interested in patrolling than training, Buffy should spend some time learning rather than fighting. “I hate being the good one,” Buffy grumbles. Giles gets her to concentrate and study a crystal. Later, Buffy patrols in the park and fights with a vampire. She suddenly finds herself dizzy and unsteady, and the vampire takes advantage of the situation, grabbing her stake and almost staking her with it. She manages to get out of the quandary, but wonders why she felt the way she did. Buffy heads to school early the next morning to test her skills, but finds that she can’t successfully throw knives at a target. She tells Giles what happened to her the previous night and asks him what might be going on. He suggests that she’s sick, which makes her panic, because she doesn’t want to miss going to the ice show with her father. He tells her to forget about patrolling for a couple of days so that she can get better, but Buffy would rather train more and make up for her difficulties. Only after she throws another knife and hits a lamp does she agree to go do something else.

Buffy, Willow, Xander, and Oz discuss the upcoming ice show while they eat lunch outside. Xander teases Buffy for going to something for kids and Willow remembers her own experience at a show - she went backstage with her father and threw up on Woodstock. Xander wonders if Buffy wants to have a party as well, but she points out that her birthday parties tend to go badly. (She’s referencing “Surprise,” but she’s also kind of foreshadowing “Blood Ties” and “Older and Far Away.”) She decides that she’d rather “celebrate this one with quiet reflection.” She goes home to find a bouquet of flowers from her father, sent because he can’t come to the ice show. Joyce offers to take time off of work to go with Buffy, but a disappointed Buffy decides to forego the show instead. Inside a boardinghouse in Sunnydale, Quentin Travers (Harris Yulin) watches another man bricking up a window. He tells the man, Blair, and another man named Hobson that they should sleep in shifts. “We’re getting very close,” he announces. “The Slayer’s preparation is nearly complete.” Back in the library, Buffy talks about the ice show to an oblivious Giles, trying to hint that she wants him to take her. He gets her to concentrate on another crystal, then waits until it puts her into a trance. He then injects her with something, wakes her up, and sends her home.

At school the next day, Buffy and Willow discuss the still-murine Amy (see “Gingerbread”), whom Willow is trying to turn human again. Buffy sees a guy harassing Cordelia for standing him up (she argues that she’s on the rebound and not to be taken seriously in the flirting department) and tries to chase him off, but can’t get up the strength to do it. The guy shoves her aside and Cordelia winds up smacking him until he takes off. Buffy goes back to Giles and asks him again what’s going on with her, but he still thinks she’s just sick and that things will work out. She makes him promise that they’ll figure out what’s going on. Later, Giles goes to the boardinghouse, where Quentin notes that he’s having doubts about what they’re doing. They discuss the Cruciamentum, a “rite of passage” for Slayers when they turn 18. The Slayer is locked up with a vampire and left to fend for herself while she’s still weak. Giles is against the ritual and criticizes Quentin and the other members of the Watchers Council for continuing to perform it, but Quentin tells him that he’s too close to Buffy to understand why it’s important. He reminds Giles that the Cruciamentum tests mental skills rather than physical skills, and that, in the end, “Buffy will be stronger for it.” “Or she’ll be dead for it,” Giles replies. Blair and Hobson start to head to the hardware store when something inside a crate in the room starts screaming and Quentin tells them to handle it. They open the crate to feed pills to a straightjacketed vampire named Kralik, making sure to keep their distance from him.

In the library, the Scoobies look for possible causes for Buffy’s weakness, coming across a curse on Slayers (which turns out to be a curse on lawyers). Xander and Oz debate the idea that they’re dealing with Slayer kryptonite and Buffy quickly brings them back to reality. Willow asks what Buffy will do if she never figures out what’s wrong with her, and Buffy decides that she’ll be able to deal with it. Giles returns and lies that he didn’t find anything out about Buffy’s condition. Blair heads in to give Kralik more pills, not realizing that Kralik has managed to rip his way out of his straightjacket. Kralik gets Blair to come closer, then grabs him by the neck. At the mansion, Buffy opens a birthday gift from Angel - a book of Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s poetry, inscribed with “always.” She’s pleased with the gift but distracted with worries that she might never regain her Slayer powers. He assures her that she “could never be helpless or boring,” but she points out that before she was the Slayer, she was pretty shallow and clueless. Angel tells her that he saw her before she was a Slayer (see “Becoming, Part 1”) and wanted to take care of her. She’s pleased with his assurance that he’ll love her no matter who she is. At the boardinghouse, Kralik has finished siring Blair, who wakes up as a vampire. He frees Kralik, who takes some pills and suggests that Blair call Hobson in to join the fun.

Giles goes to the boardinghouse, looking for Quentin, and sees blood on the banister. He grabs part of the banister as a weapon and heads towards Kralik’s crate. He is surprised to find it empty and Hobson dead. Buffy is hassled by a couple of guys as she walks home and she laments the fact that she told Angel he didn’t need to walk her home. She runs into Kralik and yells for help when she can’t fight him off. She manages to get away from him (though her coat isn’t so lucky) with Blair in pursuit, and after running from him for awhile, she’s rescued by Giles. He takes her to the library and shows her the syringe with the muscle relaxants he’s been giving her. He explains that the effects are temporary and part of the Cruciamentum, which was to pit her against Kralik. She throws the syringe case at him (missing him, since she’s not at the top of her game) and blasts him for lying to her when she was panicking. He promises that he wanted to tell her what was going on, but that he had to answer to the Council. “Who are you?” she asks. “How could you do this to me?” He tries to comfort her, but she spits out, “If you touch me, I’ll kill you.” Giles explains that the test isn’t valid now that she knows about it, so she won’t have to worry about Kralik. Cordelia arrives and, hearing Buffy say that she doesn’t know Giles, thinks that Buffy is suffering from amnesia. Buffy asks for a ride home and Cordelia sympathetically takes her, telling Giles, “But if the world doesn’t end, I’m gonna need a note.” At home, Joyce hears a noise outside and goes to the front porch to investigate. She sees someone wearing Buffy’s coat on the porch and is shocked when Kralik turns over and says, “Mother.”

Buffy returns home and finds a photo of Joyce and Kralik with a note on the back that reads “come.” She grabs some weapons, including a bottle of holy water, and takes off for the boardinghouse. There, Joyce is tied up and being forced to have her picture taken and listen to Kralik’s complaints about his own mother. He tells Joyce that he’s going to sire Buffy and make her kill Joyce. “I have a problem with mothers,” he notes. “I’m aware of that.” Buffy sneaks into the boardinghouse and begins to look for Joyce, not realizing that Blair has grabbed one of her stakes. Giles tries to call Quentin, who has decided to come see him in person at the library. Giles taunts that Quentin’s “perfectly controlled test seems to have spun rather impressively out of control” and reveals that he told Buffy everything. Quentin reminds him that he’s gone against the Council’s orders and Giles replies that he doesn’t care and that the test won’t be taking place. “The test has already begun,” Quentin announces. “Your Slayer entered the field of play about ten minutes ago.” He tries to stop Giles from going after her, but Giles tells him that it’s no longer about business and takes off. Blair approaches Buffy, who tries to shoot a crossbow bolt at him but misses. She manages to get away from him and is beckoned by an unseen Kralik, who’s hiding in his crate. He grabs her and she tries to fend him off with a cross, but it doesn’t have much of an effect on him. Buffy decides that it would be best to run again.

Buffy heads for the stairs but is stopped by Kralik. She looks for makeshift weapons and tries to fend him off, only managing to get away when he experiences whatever it is that he takes pills for. She grabs his pills and runs off again, sliding down the laundry chute and winding up in the room where Joyce is being held. Kralik is close behind, but before he does anything else he has to take a pill. He’s taunting Buffy again when he begins to shake and smoke comes out of his clothes. Buffy displays her bottle of holy water, which he accidentally drank with his pill. “If I was at full Slayer power, I’d be punning right about now,” she tells him as he screams and turns to ash. Buffy tries to untie Joyce but is still too weak. Blair suddenly appears, but Giles is right behind him and stakes him. In the library, Quentin tells Buffy that she passed the Cruciamentum, a feat which she isn’t thrilled to have done. Quentin then informs Giles that he failed his test and is being fired from the Watchers Council. “You have a father’s love for the child, and that is useless to the cause,” Quentin says. He suggests that Giles cut off ties with Buffy, but Giles refuses. Quentin relents that Giles can stay in Sunnydale, but he’d better not interfere when Buffy’s new Watcher arrives. After the Council members leave (they’ll be back in “Checkpoint”), Buffy lets Giles tend to her wounds. The next day, the Scoobies gather at Buffy’s house and lament Giles’s release from the Council. Buffy says that she’ll feel better when the effects of the test wear off and Xander tries to prove himself by opening a jar for her. However, he has as much trouble as she does and has to ask Willow for help.

MORAL, or CRAMMING COMPLEX ISSUES INTO A NUTSHELL: When you turn 18, lock yourself in your room and don’t do anything.

GRADE: B- If your main character has superpowers, we don’t want to see her without them.

WELCOME TO THE HELLMOUTH: Quentin and the rest of the Council

MEMORABLE QUOTES - “Okay, so how do you know if one’s aura’s dirty? Somebody come by with a finger and write ‘wash me’ on it?” - Buffy

(A vampire rolls down a slide)
Buffy: “Wow, that was really funny-looking! Could you do it again?”
Vampire: “I’ll kill you for that.”
Buffy: “For that? What were you trying to kill me for before?”

“I’m way off my game. My game’s left the country. It’s in Cuernavaca.” - Buffy

“Ice is cool! It’s water, but it’s not.” - Oz

Boy: “You made me look like some kind of dork in front of my posse!”
Cordelia: “First of all, ‘posse’? Passé! Second of all, anyone with a teaspoon of brains knows not to take my flirting seriously. Especially with my extenuating circumstances.”
Boy: “What circumstances?”
Cordelia: “Rebound! Look it up!”

Angel: “You really like it?”
Buffy: “Of course I do. It's sweet and thoughtful and…full of neat words to learn and say like ‘wilt’ and ‘henceforth.’”
Angel: “Then why’d you seem more excited last year when you got a severed arm in a box?”

“Or what if I just become pathetic? Hanging out at the old Slayer’s home, talking people’s ears off about my glory days, showing them Mr. Pointy, the stake I had bronzed.” - Buffy

Angel: “I saw you before you became the Slayer.”
Buffy: “What?”
Angel: “I watched you, and I saw you called. It was a bright afternoon out in front of your school. You walked down the steps…and…and I loved you.”
Buffy: “Why?”
Angel: “‘Cause I could see your heart. You held it before you for everyone to see. And I worried that it would be bruised or torn. And more than anything in my life I wanted to keep it safe…to warm it with my own.”
Buffy: “That’s beautiful. Or, taken literally, incredibly gross.”
Angel: “I was just thinking that, too.”

“Is the world ending? I have to research a paper on Bosnia for tomorrow, but if the world’s ending, I’m not gonna bother.” - Cordelia

Buffy: (to Giles) “I don’t know you.”
Cordelia: “Did something take her memory? (to Buffy) He’s Giles. Giiillles. He hangs out here a lot.”

Quentin: “Congratulations again.”
Buffy: “Bite me.”
Quentin: “Yes, well, colorful girl.”

Willow: “Now, now when you say ‘fired,’ do you mean ‘fired’?”
Xander: “You’re not cruising past that concept any time soon, are you?”
Willow: “Well, it’s just…I mean, he’s been fired! He’s, he’s unemployed! He’s…between jobs.”
Buffy: “Giles isn’t going anywhere, Will. He’s still librarian.”
Willow: “Okay, but I’m writing an angry letter.”
Buffy: “You know, nothing’s really gonna change. The important thing is that I kept up my special birthday tradition of gut-wrenching misery and horror.”
Oz: “Bright side to everything.”

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