"Same Time, Same Place"
Written by Jane Espenson; directed by James A. Contner

Buffy, Xander, and Dawn wait for Willow to arrive at the airport. Xander holds up a sign with “Welcome Back, Willow” written in yellow crayon. (See “Grave.”) They discuss her recovery, which may not be complete, until Xander realizes that everyone has left the plane but Willow is nowhere in sight. The same scene is presented, only this time Willow gets off the plane and the Scoobies aren’t there. At the Sunnydale High construction site a teenaged boy is attacked by a creature that speaks of being alone. Willow goes to the Summers’ house and is confused when she realizes that no one is there. She hears the front door open but doesn’t see anyone enter. Buffy, Xander, and Dawn return home and wonder where Willow is. They call Giles, who tells them that as far as he knows, Willow got on the plane. As the Scoobies talk on the couch, the scene fades to show Willow sleeping on the same couch.

The next morning Willow tries to call Giles but can’t reach him. She heads to the Magic Box and runs into Anya, who is surprised to see her. Anya fills Willow in on what she’s missed and tells her that Buffy and Xander are probably at the high school. Willow goes over but doesn’t see them. At the construction site Buffy and Xander find the teenager’s skinned body and wonder if Willow is to blame for his death. Willow goes to the basement, where Spike continues with the crazy talk. She asks where Buffy is but he pays her little attention. He mentions that everyone is talking to him but not to each other. Xander and Buffy come down to the basement and the same scene is replayed, this time with Spike speaking directly to Buffy. He mentions Willow, and Buffy wonders if he’s seen her. Spike tells an unseen Willow that Buffy and Xander think she killed the teenager.

Willow goes to Anya’s apartment and asks her to help with a locator spell. Each accuses the other of killing the teenager but realize that neither is to blame. They perform a spell to locate demonic energy (the same spell Willow tried to perform with Tara in “Goodbye, Iowa”) and Willow sees what she thinks is a cave near the school. She wonders if a creature in the cave is responsible for the teenager’s death. She tells Anya that she tried to do a spell to find Buffy and Xander, but that she was told they don’t exist. Buffy, Xander, and Dawn investigate the teenager’s death and discover a creature named Gnarl who paralyzes his victims with his fingers and then eats their skin. The three get Spike to help them track Gnarl and find his cave. At the same time, Willow enters the cave and encounters Gnarl. The Scoobies enter and hear something moving around. Gnarl suddenly jumps out and scratches Dawn. She reminds them that his fingers paralyze and Buffy and Xander decide to get her to safety. They seal Gnarl in, unknowingly trapping Willow with him.

Willow attempts to escape, then announces that she will fight Gnarl if she has to. He paralyzes her, then begins to strip her skin. Xander and Buffy get a paralyzed Dawn home and discover that the paralysis is permanent until Gnarl is killed. Buffy and Xander decide to go back to the cave; they call Anya to watch Dawn. Anya plays with Poseable Dawn for awhile, then mentions that she recently helped Willow. She reveals that Willow probably went to Gnarl’s cave and Buffy enlists her help in defeating Gnarl. The Scoobies interrupt Gnarl’s snack and Buffy fights him. Anya assures Willow that Xander and Buffy are there, even though she can’t see them. Buffy kills Gnarl by gouging his eyes and Willow and Dawn’s paralysis begins to dissipate. Anya leaves to get help for Willow, who soon reappears to Buffy and Xander. They assure her that she’ll be okay and that they’re there. Back at home Willow meditates to try to grow her skin back and explains the way her magic works to Buffy. She admits that she accidentally triggered the spell that kept them from seeing each other because she wasn’t ready for Buffy and Xander to see her again. Buffy confesses that she suspected Willow of killing the teenager; Willow says that she’s not confident in her powers yet. Buffy offers to share her strength with Willow to help her heal.

MORAL, or CRAMMING COMPLEX ISSUES INTO A NUTSHELL: Gollum + Gentlemen = Gnarl.

GRADE: B The scene in the basement is especially clever, and the Scooby gang is finally reunited.

MEMORABLE QUOTES - “I saved the world with talking from my mouth. My mouth saved the world.” - Xander

“She didn't finish being not evil?” - Dawn

Willow: “When did you get all insightful?”
Anya: “I’m surprisingly sensitive. This isn’t going to get all sexy, is it?”
Willow: “I’d be shocked.”

Dawn: “Also, I'm sure there's tons of stuff like this. You know, procedures we can use that don't involve magic spells. Just good solid detective work. And we can develop a database of tooth impressions and demon skin samples and I could wear high heels more often.”
Buffy: “Wow, that was so close to being empowered.”

Buffy: “That’s a rock cliff.”
Xander: “Well, give him a break, Buffy. Maybe it's a vicious skin-eating rock cliff.”
Spike: “There's a cave in it. Look. I'm insane. What's his excuse?”

Xander: “You’ll be doing limbo in no time.”
Dawn: “Yeah, as a pole.”

Xander: “Ew. Ew. Thumbs? I can't believe you did that.”
Anya (to Willow): “Oh, Buffy killed the demon. It was gross.”

Willow: “You know, Giles says everything's part of the earth. This bed. The air. Us.”
Buffy: “Explains why my fingernails get dirty even when I don't do anything.”
Willow: “Plus you stuck your thumbs in a demon.”


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