Written and directed by David Greenwalt

Buffy, Willow, Xander, Cordelia, and Oz hang out at the Bronze, discussing the upcoming Homecoming dance. Buffy isn’t sure if she’s going to go, and when Scott joins the group, Cordelia bluntly (as is her way) asks if he hasn’t broached the subject with Buffy yet. Scott awkwardly asks Buffy to the dance, receiving an equally awkward response before she leaves. She heads to the mansion, bringing Angel some blood, and explains that she hasn’t told the Scoobies, including Giles, about his return yet. (Angel seems to feel bad about torturing Giles in “Becoming, Part 2.”) She doesn’t think that the Scoobies would understand if they knew the truth, and she says that everything’s different - she’s a senior, she’s thinking about going to college, and she’s seeing a new guy. She rubs it in that he’s a nice, reliable guy. The next day at school, Scott announces to Buffy that he doesn’t think they should see each other anymore. She used to be lively but now seems “distracted all the time,” and his feelings towards her have changed. As he walks away, two men in a van in the parking lot watch Buffy, setting up technology to keep an eye on her. Elsewhere, Trick (see “Faith, Hope, and Trick”) and a man in a wheelchair watch Buffy on a monitor, Trick calling her “the target.”

At City Hall, the Deputy Mayor, Allan Finch (Jack Plotnick), anxiously waits outside the Mayor’s office. (Actually, any time you think of Allan, just imagine him acting nervous.) He finally goes in to see the Mayor, Richard Wilkins (Harry Groener), and tells him that wanted criminals/twins named Frederick and Hans Gruenstahler - the two men from the van at Sunnydale High - were recently spotted in town. As he tells the Mayor about them, the Mayor asks if Allan washes his hands as often as he should. He then instructs Allan to have the twins put under surveillance and let him know if “any other colorful characters” pop up in Sunnydale. At Sunnydale High, the Scoobies (minus Buffy) have their yearbook photos taken. Willow and Xander discuss their clothes for the Homecoming dance as Cordelia surveys her competition for Homecoming Queen, Holly (“nice girl, brain dead, doesn’t have a prayer”) and Michelle (“open to all mankind, especially those with a letterman’s jacket and a car”). Willow realizes that Buffy wasn’t in school when the date of yearbook photo-taking was announced, so Cordelia offers to go to the library and tell her. There, Buffy and Faith are training and Faith is admiring the rage over Scott that Buffy is getting out. She suggests that they go to the dance together and forget about guys. On the way the library, Cordelia is distracted by potential voters and never makes it inside.

Buffy tries to get a recommendation from one of her former teachers (in accordance with Snyder’s guidelines for her return to school) and is disappointed when the teacher doesn’t even remember who she is. She’s even more disappointed when she later learns that missed having her picture taken for the yearbook because Cordelia didn’t fill her in. When she confronts Cordelia, the campaigning candidate doesn’t see the big deal. She accuses Buffy of not understanding how tough it is to run for Homecoming Queen. Buffy decides to show her up and throws her hat in the ring, announcing that Cordelia has “awakened the Prom Queen within.” In Trick’s warehouse, he rallies his troops (who include Wheelchair Guy, the Gruenstahler twins, a “spiny-headed looking creature” named Kulak, and Lyle Gorch (see “Bad Eggs”) and his new bride Candy. He tells them about their targets, Buffy and Faith, and welcomes them to SlayerFest ‘98.

That night, Willow and Xander try on clothes at her house, him failing to offer helpful feedback on her clothing options. They discuss their longtime friendship and their relationships with Oz and Cordelia. The two practice dancing and, mesmerized by their attractiveness in their respective formalwear, share a kiss. Immediately after, they freak out, blaming the romantic moment on a “clothes fluke” and rushing to change back into their normal clothes. In the library the next day, Buffy holds Campaigning 101, giving Willow, Xander, and Oz information on her competition’s strengths and weaknesses. She tells Willow to make a database and is recruiting Oz and Xander to get some voters when Cordelia enters. Buffy is disheartened to learn that Cordelia has already roped the Scoobies into working on her campaign. After they leave, Buffy tries to convince Giles that the competition is all about fun.

As the SlayerFest participants prepare for the festivities, Buffy and Cordelia spend some time trying to get voters. Buffy uses a helpless girl act to get some attention, and manages to walk away with Scott’s vote. She offers students cupcakes, but is outdone by Cordelia’s baskets of treats. Buffy runs into Willow, who feels bad that she’s working against her, and manages to guilt her into giving her some help. Outside the school, the Gruenstahler twins hear Buffy saying that the homecoming limo will pick up Faith, then her. Later, Buffy tries to get Jonathan’s vote while Cordelia works on the school’s nerd population. The two competitors face off and Cordelia accuses Buffy of trying to be like her. Their barbs grow sharper until things turn physical and Willow and Xander have to separate them. Later, Willow laments the state of things and Xander says that his feelings for her are different now. She tells him that she was actually talking about Buffy and Cordelia. She blames herself and Xander for the fight, saying that they felt so guilty about their kiss that they tried to make things up to Cordelia by helping her out. They find themselves slightly distracted by their growing attraction to each other. “What are we gonna do?” Willow asks. Xander says that they’ll have to get Buffy and Cordelia talking to each other so that they can work things out. “I’m talking about us,” Willow says.

That night, the homecoming limo pulls up outside Buffy’s house. When she gets in, she’s surprised to see that Cordelia, not Faith, is inside. She reads a note from the Scoobies, informing them that they want them to be alone in the limo so that they can work things out. Cordelia gives her a corsage, having already taken one for herself. The two don’t realize that their limo driver is one of the Gruenstahler brothers. He drives them out into the woods, then runs off. Confused, the girls get out of the limos and realize that they’ve been driven far away from the Bronze. They spot a TV and VCR and turn them on to see a video from Trick. He welcomes them to SlayerFest and tells them that they have less than 30 seconds to run for their lives. “Have a nice death,” he tells them. Cordelia protests loudly that “she’s a Slayer. I’m a Homecoming Queen!” but it’s too late. Someone shoots out the TV monitor, and Buffy and Cordelia take off.

Willow and Xander guiltily hang out at the dance, watching Oz play with Dingoes and talking about how great he is. Faith spots Scott and pronounces him a “sleazebag.” Giles rushes in and tells Willow and Xander that they have to find Buffy because something horrible has happened, then admits that he was just kidding. As they run through the woods, Cordelia wonders if she and Buffy can explain to the nice men trying to kill them that she’s not a Slayer and therefore shouldn’t be hunted. Buffy narrowly misses getting caught in a bear trap, then getting shot by one of the SlayerFest participants. She throws the bear trap at him and takes his rifle, then asks him who is involved in SlayerFest. He tells her, letting her know that the Gruenstahlers are “wired.” The two girls are then almost sliced by weapons that Kulak handily keeps in his arms. Back at the dance, Faith gets revenge on Scott by pretending to be an ex with an STD. His date is not amused. Giles congratulates a moping Willow and Xander on their attempts to repair Buffy and Cordelia’s friendship, then heads to the library.

Buffy and Cordelia find an abandoned cabin, which Buffy tells Cordelia to search for a weapon. Cordelia panics, thinking that she’s going to die before she can be crowned Homecoming Queen, graduate, or find out if her relationship with Xander is the real thing or “some temporary insanity.” Buffy assures her that they’ll get out of the cabin and back to the library, “where the weapons live,” in time for Buffy to be crowned Queen. Cordelia realizes that Buffy’s just trying to make her mad so that she won’t be scared. “And, hey!” she exclaims. “It’s working! Where’s a da%$ weapon?” Buffy asks if she really loves Xander, and Cordelia says that he grew on her, “like a Chia pet.” She reveals that she’s found a spatula, which Buffy is surprised to learn is the only useful thing in the house. “Just this and a telephone,” Cordelia says. Buffy asks if she didn’t think a phone might be helpful. Apparently not, since you can’t fight with it. In Trick’s warehouse, Wheelchair Guy picks up the girls’ phone signal and cuts off the connection before Buffy can finish leaving a message for Giles, letting him know where they are. Wheelchair Guy sends the twins after the girls. Giles arrives at the library and sees that he has a message from Buffy.

Cordelia complains that “violence and terror” follow Buffy everywhere she goes, saying that she doesn’t want to be a part of it. She says that she only wanted to be Homecoming Queen, which is all Buffy wanted, too. Cordelia wonders why Buffy cares about being Queen when she does such important stuff every day, but Buffy says that that’s the point - being Homecoming Queen would make her feel as if she had a normal life. Kulak bursts into the cabin and Buffy tries to fend him off, yelling for Cordelia to grab the rifle. Cordelia tries to shoot Kulak, but fails miserably. “Cordelia, the spatula,” Buffy suggests. The Gruenstahlers fire a grenade into the cabin and Buffy and Cordelia jump out a window to escape. Kulak tries the same tactic, but the window he tries to go through is boarded up and he remains inside the cabin when it explodes. At the library, Lyle and Candy wait for Buffy, wanting to kill her for causing Tector’s death in “Bad Eggs.” Lyle is confident that she’ll come, since they’ve knocked out Giles and are keeping him there.

Trick’s surveillance of Buffy and Cordelia is interrupted when two police officers show up at the warehouse and drag him away. Buffy and Cordelia arrive at school, determined to get rid of their predators in time to attend the dance. They enter the library and are immediately attacked by Candy. Candy manages to knock Buffy out, but not before she’s dusted with the wooden handle of the spatula. Lyle goes after Cordelia, who stands up to him and lets him know that she’s not afraid of him. “See, in the end, Buffy’s just the runner-up,” she announces. “I’m the Queen. You get me mad, what do you think I’m gonna do to you?” Rather than find out, Lyle decides that it would be best if he just left. Later, Buffy and Giles are both conscious again, and Buffy tells Giles that she and Cordelia got to “spend some quality death time.” Cordelia is also pleased that the Scoobies gave them free corsages. Giles mentions that he doesn’t remember the Scoobies talking about corsages, and Buffy realizes that the Gruenstahlers are using them to keep track of her and Cordelia. “I need some wet toilet paper,” she tells Giles.

The Gruenstahlers stalk through the school hallways, tracking Buffy and Cordelia with instructions from Wheelchair Guy. They see Buffy running passed them and one follows her into a classroom while the other one stays in the hall. Buffy throws a paper towel with the transmitters onto the back of one of the Gruenstahlers and the twins wind up aiming their guns at each other. After they’ve shot each other to death and the transmitters have stopped beeping, Wheelchair Guy triumphantly exclaims, “I won!” At City Hall, Trick is taken into the Mayor’s office to meet His Creepiness. The Mayor is aware that Trick is a vampire and tells him that he wants things in Sunnydale to “run smoothly.” “Election year,” Trick assumes. “Something like that,” the Mayor replies. (More about that in later episodes.) He waxes poetic about children being their future and the “rebellious element” needing to be eradicated. Trick assures him that, if things go well, that element may soon be removed. The Mayor praises Trick’s SlayerFest idea and says that he wants him on his “team.”

At the Bronze, Devon is about to announce the Homecoming Queen winner and the Scoobies are worried about Buffy and Cordelia. The two show up and Xander asks what they did to each other. Buffy warns that people shouldn’t mess with Cordelia, and Xander has to agree. Buffy and Cordelia decide that, after all they’ve been through that night, the winner of the competition is still important. Devon announces that they have a tie, and Buffy and Cordelia wait hopefully for their names to be called. However, Michelle and Holly are the two winners. Buffy and Cordelia roll their eyes and leave.

MORAL, or CRAMMING COMPLEX ISSUES INTO A NUTSHELL: “Killer competition” isn’t always hyperbole.

GRADE: B+ Cordelia/Buffy battles are always fun, and the Willow/Xander kissage makes everything more interesting. Also, the Mayor rules all.


MEMORABLE QUOTES - Scott: “I just…I assumed that you would think it was corny or something, but I-I’m in…. I mean, you know, if you are, if you want to.”
Buffy: “Uh, sure…I do. You know, i-if you want to.”
Scott: “Well, I do if you want to.”
Oz: “The judges will accept that as a ‘yes.’”

“I’m getting better. Honest. In fact, from here on, you are gonna see a drastic distraction reduction. ‘Drastic distraction reduction.’ Try saying that ten times fast.” - Buffy to Scott

Trick: “Competition is a beautiful thing. It makes us strive. It…makes us accomplish. Occasionally, it makes us kill. We all have the desire to win. Whether we’re human…vampire…and whatever the he%$ you are, my brother. You got them spiny-looking head things. I ain’t never seen that before.”
Kulak: “I am Kulak, of the Miquot Clan.”
Trick: “Isn’t that nice.”

“As Willow goes, so goes my nation.” - Oz

Willow: “Hi! How are you? You good? You look good. Anything new? Hey, did I mention you look good?”
Buffy: “Willow, it’s okay that you’re helping Cordelia. We’re best friends. I’m not gonna hold it against you.”
Willow: “No, I’m not a friend. I’m a rabid dog who should be shot! But there’re forces at work here! Dark, incomprehensible forces.”
Buffy: “And I’m sure they’re more important than all we’ve been through together, or…the number of times that I’ve saved your life.”
Willow: “What do you want?”
Buffy: “Fifteen minutes alone on your computer with Cordelia's database.”
Willow: “‘Kay.”

Xander: “Okay, let’s not say something we’ll, uh, regret later….”
Cordelia: “You crazy freak!”
Buffy: “Vapid whore!”
Xander: “Like that.”

“We have to find Buffy. Something terrible’s happened. Just kidding. Thought I’d give you a scare.” - Giles to Willow and Xander

Cordelia: “I don’t even get why you care about Homecoming when you’re doing stuff like this.”
Buffy: “Because this is all I do. This is what my life is. You couldn’t understand. I just thought…Homecoming Queen. I could pick up a yearbook someday and say, I was there. I went to high school, I had friends, and…for one moment, I got to live in the world. And there’d be proof. Proof that I was chosen for something other than this. Besides…I look cute in a tiara.”

Xander: “What did you two do to each other?”
Buffy: “Long story.”
Cordelia: “Got hunted.”
Buffy: “Apparently not that long.”

Cordelia: “After all that we’ve been through tonight, this whole who-gets-to-be-queen capade seems pretty….”
Buffy: “Da%$ important.”
Cordelia: “Oh, yeah.”

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