"Once More, With Feeling"
Written and directed by Joss Whedon
Original music and lyrics by Joss Whedon; arranged by Jesse Tobias and Christophe Beck; score by Christophe Beck

Buffy wakes up early one morning and glares at her alarm clock. Over the overture, Willow, Tara, and Dawn get ready for their days. Tara finds the herb Willow used in the “forget” spell (see “All the Way”) and smiles, thinking it’s a present. At the Magic Box, Xander and Anya look through a bridal magazine and the Scoobies research. That night, Buffy patrols, this time doing something she’s never done before - singing. She sings “Going Through the Motions,” a song about feeling detached and living her life the way she used to so that no one suspects she doesn’t have the same emotions she once did. The next day, she returns to the Magic Box and asks the Scoobies if any of them burst into song the night before. Turns out all of them did and were equally confused. Buffy tells them she doesn’t remember what she sang about and they decide that, as usual, research is in order.

Giles begins singing “I’ve Got a Theory” in which all of the Scoobies give their opinions about what has caused the singing. Willow thinks it’s another Billy situation (see “Nightmares”), Xander thinks it’s witches, and Anya thinks it’s bunnies. Finally, Buffy sings that it doesn’t matter - they’ve been through everything, and they can fight whatever is out there. When the song is over, Anya wonders if they are the only ones affected. Buffy opens the door to hear a man singing the joys of his dry cleaners and they realize that it’s not just them. Later, Dawn returns from school, excited about the singing. While the Scoobies discuss research, she surreptitiously snatches a necklace. Willow and Tara leave, pretending to go home to get a book but really just wanting to spend the day outside. In the park, Tara sings “I’m Under Your Spell,” telling Willow that her love is like magic but not realizing that she literally is under Willow’s spell. Elsewhere, in an alley, a man tap dances until he bursts into flame. A demon named Sweet watches and says to himself, “That’s entertainment.”

The next morning Xander and Anya snuggle in bed at their apartment, discussing breakfast. Anya starts to sing “I’ll Never Tell,” a song in which she and Xander reveal the irritating things the other does and their uncertainty about the future. Later, they walk down the street with Giles and complain about the singing. Their conversation is briefly interrupted by a woman singing about a parking ticket. Giles tells Xander and Anya about the man who caught on fire and they wonder if Buffy will be able to figure things out. Buffy goes to Spike’s crypt, but he tries to get her to leave. He suddenly starts singing “Rest in Peace,” in which he tells her how he feels about her and mentions that she confided in him when she couldn’t tell her friends the truth about being in Heaven. He tells her that if she’s not going to return his feelings, she should leave him alone.

At the Summers’ house Dawn tells Tara that she’s glad she and Willow made up. Tara is confused, not remembering the fight, and heads to the Magic Box. Dawn looks through all of the things she’s taken from the Magic Box and sings, “Does anybody even notice? Does anybody even care?” She turns to see minions in masks behind her; they grab her and throw a bag over her head. She wakes up at the Bronze and encounters Sweet, who sings “What You Feel.” He describes himself - he was summoned by someone and has come to bring music, but the singing includes the bearing of souls, and if people dance for too long, they can die. He tells her that he’ll take her back to his dimension and make her his queen. She tells him that her sister is the Slayer and he tells his minions to go get her.

At the Magic Box, Buffy and Giles are training and discussing the events of Halloween. Giles asks if she’s talking to Dawn about what happened and Buffy says she thought he took care of it. As she works out, he sings “Standing,” a song about wanting to continue to lead her but realizing that he’s actually keeping her from being who she can be. However, she doesn’t hear any of it. In the loft of the shop, Tara looks through books and discovers that the herb she found is something used in a spell to make people forget things. She begins to sing a reprise of “Under Your Spell” and is soon joined by Giles singing a reprise of “Standing.” They sing about loving Willow and Buffy respectively, but knowing that they can’t stay with them anymore.

Spike enters the shop with one of Sweet’s minions and tells him to “sing.” The minion opens his mouth, as if he’s going to sing, and then simply tells Buffy that Dawn is at the Bronze with Sweet. The Scoobies prepare to rescue Dawn but Giles announces that only Buffy will be going. Willow suggests using a spell but Tara protests. Spike offers to help Buffy anyway but she reminds him that he sang that he wanted her to stay away from him. He storms off and Buffy realizes that Giles really isn’t going to back her up. She heads towards the Bronze, singing “Walk Through the Fire,” a lament about her inability to feel emotions. In an alley, Spike sings that he’s glad Buffy’s heading to her doom, then quickly decides he’d better help her. Sweet sings that the Slayer will soon be there and shares the sentiment with Spike that she’ll never learn. Giles realizes that he may have made the wrong decision and the Scoobies head off to the rescue. Buffy sings that her friends have abandoned her while they sing that she’s changed. They all sing about heading into the fire and not being able to turn back now.

Buffy arrives at the Bronze first and offers to take Dawn’s place as Sweet’s queen. She sings “Something to Sing About,” expressing her emotions about trying to fit in in the world. The Scoobies arrive and hear her sing that when she died, that should have been the end. She finally tells them that she was in Heaven, not hell, and that it’s hard for her to live on Earth, knowing what she left behind. She begins to dance and catch on fire but Spike stops her, singing that she can only get better if she keeps living. When they’re done, Sweet says that he’ll be leaving with his new queen, but Dawn promises that she didn’t summon him. He tells her that she’s wearing his talisman, which she lies that she found on the floor of the magic shop. Xander finally admits that he summoned Sweet - he thought that things would be happy and that he would be able to make sure his and Anya’s relationship would work out.

Sweet assures Xander that he won’t have to be his queen, then sings a reprise of “What You Feel,” bidding the Scoobies goodbye and taunting them for not receiving a happy ending. He leaves, and Dawn begins to sing “Where Do We Go From Here?” All of the Scoobies sing about the uncertainty of what lies ahead, stating that they’ll go through it together but will still be somewhat separate. Spike, realizing that the spell is technically gone, stops himself and goes outside. Buffy heads after him and sings a reprise of “Walk Through the Fire.” She sings that she just wants to feel something and he sings back that she makes him feel alive. They share a kiss as curtains close over the screen.

MORAL, or CRAMMING COMPLEX ISSUES INTO A NUTSHELL: These people could sing about pencils and still be entertaining.

GRADE: A Not only is the music great, it also advances the plot.

MEMORABLE QUOTES - Vampire: “She ain’t got that swing.”
Buffy: “Thanks for noticing.”

“She's not even half the girl she--“ (he’s been stabbed) “--ow.” - Demon

Guy who’s just been rescued: “How can I repay--?”
Buffy: “Whatever.”

Tara: “It was bizarre. We were talking and then it was like--.”
Buffy: “Like you were in a musical!”
Tara: “Yeah!”
Giles: “That would explain the huge backing orchestra I couldn't see and the synchronized dancing from the room service chaps.”
Willow: “We did a whole duet about dishwashing.”
Anya: “And we were arguing and, and then everything rhymed and there were harmonies and the dance with coconuts.”
Willow: “There was an entire verse about the couscous.”

“It could be witches, some evil witches!” (Willow and Tara aren’t amused) “Which is ridiculous, 'cause witches, they were persecuted, Wicca good and love the earth and woman power and I'll be over here.” - Xander

Anya: “I've got a theory! It could be bunnies!” (Crickets chirp)
Tara: “I’ve got a--.”
Anya: “Bunnies aren’t just cute like everybody supposes
They got them hoppy legs and twitchy little noses
And what’s with all the carrots?
What do they need such good eyesight for anyway?
Bunnies! Bunnies!
It must be bunnies!
Or maybe midgets….”

Scoobies: “We have to try
We'll pay the price
It's do or die.”
Buffy: “Hey, I've died twice.”

Scoobies: “There's nothing we can't face.”
Anya: “Except for bunnies.”

Anya: “Well, is it just us? I mean, is it only happening to us? ‘Cause that would probably mean a spell or--.”
(Buffy opens the door to reveal a crowd of dancers surrounding a man with dry cleaning bags)
Man: “The got the mustard out!”
Dancers: “They got the mustard ooooout!”
(Buffy closes the door)
Buffy: “It’s not just us.”

Tara: “Those boys really thought I was hot?”
Willow: “Entirely.”
Tara: “…I'm cured! I want the boys!”

Anya: “Will you still make me waffles when we’re married?”
Xander: “No, I’ll only make them for myself, but by California law, you will own half of them.”

Anya: “When things get rough, he
Just hides behind his Buffy!
Now look, he's getting huffy
'Cause he knows that I know.”
Xander: “She clings
She's needy
She's also really greedy
She nev--.”
Anya: “His eyes are beady!”
Xander: “This is my verse, hello!”

Xander: “It's a plague. It's like a nightmare about a plague.”
Anya: “It was like we were being watched.”
Xander: “It's like, I didn't wanna be saying things--.”
Anya: “Like there was a wall missing--.”
Xander: “--but they just kept pouring out.”
Anya: “--in our apartment.”
Xander: “And they rhymed and they were mean and--.”
Anya: “Like there were only three walls and not a fourth wall….”

“It's just, clearly our number is a retro pastiche that's never going to be a breakaway pop hit.” - Anya

“This demon that can be summoned, some sort of Lord of the Dance. Oh, but not the scary one.” - Tara

Sweet: “'Cause I know what you feel, girl.”
Dawn: “No, you see
You and me
Wouldn't be very regal
Sweet: “I'll make it real, girl.”
Dawn: “What I mean
I'm fifteen
So this queen thing's illegal.”

Buffy: “I'm just worried this whole session's gonna turn into some training montage from an '80s movie.”
Giles: “Ah. Well, if we hear any inspirational power chords, we'll just lie down until they go away.”

“Strong. Someday he'll be a real boy.” - Spike, re: one of Sweet’s minions

“Dawn’s in trouble. Must be Tuesday.” - Buffy

“Uh, Dawn may have had the wrong idea in summoning this creature, but...I've seen some of these underworld child bride deals and, and they never end well. Well, maybe once.” - Anya

“If I want your opinion, Spike, I'll…I'll never want your opinion.” - Giles

Xander: “Spike sing a widdle song?”
Anya: “Would you say it was a breakaway pop hit or more of a book number?”
Xander: “Let it go, sweetie.”

“The torch I bear is scorching me
Buffy's laughing, I've no doubt
I hope she fries
I'm free if that b!%@# dies!
I better help her out.” - Spike

Spike: “First he'll kill her, then I'll save her.”
Tara: “Everything is turning out so dark.”
Spike: “No, I'll save her, then I'll kill her.”
Willow: “I think this line's mostly filler.”

Xander: “Does this mean that I have to...be your queen?”
Sweet: “It's tempting. But I think we'll waive that clause just this once.”

“The battle’s done
And we kind of won….” - Giles


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