"Storyteller"
Written by Jane Espenson; directed by Marita Grabiak

It’s nighttime in a Masterpiece Theater-esque study containing shelves of books, skulls, bottles of chemicals, a comic book, Star Wars and anime posters, and action figures. Andrew reads a book, wearing a smoking jacket and holding a pipe. He greets us, the “gentle viewers,” and talks about the excitement of stories. He tries to smoke the pipe but winds up coughing. He introduces us to his tale: “Buffy, Slayer of the vampyrs.” Buffy is in a cemetery, patrolling as Andrew narrates. We see that Andrew is actually in the bathroom, recording himself on a video camera. Anya interrupts the scene and he tells her he’s “entertaining and educating.”

Back in the cemetery, Buffy tells Andrew to stop filming her. He tells her that it’s important to have a record of what she does. In the bathroom, Anya drags Andrew out, telling him that if the world’s going to end, no one’s going to see his record of Buffy’s work. He plies her by telling her that he wants to interview her later. Through the video camera, we see Andrew in the basement, recording what he’s drawn on the “big board.” He explains the story of the Hellmouth, the seal, the Turok-Han, the Bringers, and the First.

Upstairs, Andrew films morning in the Summers’ household as the Scoobies and potentials eat breakfast. He calls Xander “the man who is the heart of the Slayer machine,” which Xander enjoys. Andrew decides to introduce some of the Scoobies, starting with Buffy, who glams it up for us. She and Spike have a model shoot moment, which Anya seems to want to get in on. Buffy asks if they can somehow get Andrew to cut it out, but the Scoobies think that they should have a record of them saving the world. Willow points out that the potentials can view the tapes to learn about fighting. Buffy begins to tell everyone about her vision from “Get it Done,” but apparently Andrew doesn’t think it’s very important, so he leaves.

Out in the dining room, Andrew gives the camera a fake “history,” beginning with a scene in a laboratory with himself, Warren, and Jonathan. Andrew creates a concoction that will make Buffy super-magnetic. Andrew checks on the status of the Scoobies and potentials, who are bored (even Willow is). Andrew mentions to the camera that he had a run-in with Dark Willow and flashes back to “Two to Go,” this time inserting his own ideas. When Willow tries to use magic to hurt Andrew and Jonathan, it is Andrew rather than Anya who stops her.

Buffy heads to work, breaking up a fight between two boys in the hallway. She spots a girl who is starting to disappear and assures her that she’ll be all right. Other students experience strange things as the Hellmouth continues to send out evil energy. Wood asks Buffy what’s going on and she tells him she’s seen everything that’s happening, just not all at once. She says that high school often feels like war, and now it’s turning into a literal battle. At home, Andrew films Dawn (who is apparently playing hooky), explaining that he’s not really sure what a Key is. (Don’t worry, Andrew, no one is.) Andrew films Xander and Anya, mentioning that this is the one-year anniversary of their failed wedding. He gets them to examine their actions and emotions, and encourages them to tell each other if they still love each other.

At school, Buffy and Wood find the seal uncovered again. She tells him about her vision and the fact that the Turok-Han come out of the seal. Wood wonders if Buffy can trust her friends, since they’ve all had temporary bouts of evilness. Suddenly possessed, he accuses her of “screwing that vampire.” He comes out of the trance and she tells him that the seal must have been affecting him. Buffy decides to talk to Andrew about the seal, since he was the first person to try to open it. They see the pig from “Never Leave Me” run by and Wood says, “I hope that’s not a student.”

Spike yells at Andrew to keep the camera away from him; Andrew interrupts him to get him back in better light, and Spike starts over. Back in the living room, Anya and Xander continue talking. They admit that they still love each other but aren’t sure what that means. We see that Andrew has taped their conversation and is rewatching it on his camera. Buffy returns home with Wood and tells Andrew that it’s time for him to do something useful. Back at school, students kneel around the seal and chant, making it glow.

We flash back to Mexico in 2002, some time between “Grave” and “Conversations with Dead People.” Andrew and Jonathan have the same dream - they hear a voice say “desde abajo te devora” and see potentials, Turok-Han, Spike’s torture, Bringers, the seal, and the cheese man from “Restless.” They wake up and chat for awhile, until Willow, back in the present day, complains that Andrew isn’t giving them any useful information. He finally gets around to telling the Scoobies that Jonathan left the room and the First appeared to him in Warren’s guise. First!Warren asks if Andrew got a knife he was supposed to get and Andrew shows it to him. First!Warren tells him that stabbing Jonathan is part of the master plan, which will result in all of them living like gods. Andrew takes a moment to fantasize about the three of them frolicking in a meadow, wearing togas and singing, “We are as gods!”

First!Warren tells Andrew, “There's power in that knife. Drive the words deep into him. It's the only way for us to get our reward.” In the present, Willow says that there is something important about the knife. Andrew tells the Scoobies that he put the knife in their cutlery drawer, which appropriately squicks them out. He tells them that there was some carving on the blade that he thought was just a pattern. Willow realizes that it’s a demon language, one that Andrew is familiar with. He translates the carving as, “The blood which I spill, I consecrate to the oldest evil.” Willow researches the knife and Buffy announces that she’s taking Andrew to the seal. The seal responds to the demon language, and if Andrew speaks it, he may have some affect on the seal.

Buffy, Andrew, Spike, and Wood arrive at the high school to find everything destroyed and tagged with graffiti. Kids begin to attack them and Buffy tells Spike and Wood to stay and fight them off while she takes Andrew down to the seal. On the way down she takes Andrew’s camera, tired of his narration. She tells him that what she does “is too important to show the world” and reminds him that he’s a murderer. He denies that he murdered Jonathan and has another false flashback - First!Warren badgers him to stab Jonathan, who fights Andrew, making it look like Andrew kills him accidentally. Buffy mentions that Wood was controlled by the seal and Andrew decides that this is a better story; he “flashes back” again, this time killing Jonathan while possessed. Down at the seal, Buffy and Andrew see that the students from earlier have become Bringers.

In the basement of the Summers’ house, Xander and Anya lie on Spike’s cot post-coitus. Xander claims that he always knew they would reunite, at least for a night of passion. They decide that one more night is all they could have between them and agree that they’re definitely over (though they don’t sound too confident). Spike and Wood fight more kids until Wood decides to get rid of Spike himself; he is deterred by a student. Back at the seal, Andrew narrates again as Buffy fights the new Bringers. After she’s won, she tells Andrew that it’s time to do what they came to do. She tells him that the seal “understands blood” and that the blood of the person who first opened it will close it.

Andrew responds dramatically and Buffy tells him that “life isn’t a story.” She says that he turns everything into a story so that he doesn’t have to face what he did. She tells him that people are going to die in the battle, including innocent people, and that he may be one of them. Buffy hints that she’s going to kill him now and Andrew begs her not to. She pushes him towards the seal but holds onto him so that he doesn’t fall, then tells him, “When your blood pours out, it might save the world. What do you think about that? Does it buy it all back? Are you redeemed?” He begins to cry and says, “No.” He admits that he killed Jonathan and that he knew he wasn’t really talking to Warren. His tears fall onto the seal, which stops glowing. Buffy tells him that the seal wanted tears rather than blood. Back at home, Andrew tapes his final monologue: “Here's the thing. I killed my best friend. There's a big fight coming, and I don't know what's going to happen. I don't even think I'm going to live through it. That's, uh, probably the way it should be. I guess I'm--.” He turns off the camera without finishing.

MORAL, or CRAMMING COMPLEX ISSUES INTO A NUTSHELL: If you kill your best friend, you might feel better if you cry.

GRADE: B+ Again, I am blinded by my affection for Andrew. But I'm sure everyone laughed at least once during this episode.

MEMORABLE QUOTES - Andrew: “Things are tense in command central this morning. Buffy is clearly concerned with some unknown danger, and the air is filled with foreboding.”
Dawn: “Oh, um, we're out of Raisin Bran.”
Anya: “I’ll put it on the list.”
Andrew: “That's probably not the unknown danger.”

Andrew: “We could walk right by her, and she wouldn't be able to stop us.”
Warren: “Unless we were wearing metal belt buckles, then we would stick to her.”
Andrew: “In my plan, we are beltless.”

“Stop it, or I'm going to smash this camera over your head. Actually, I'm gonna do that anyway, so you might as well talk.” - Buffy to Andrew


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