Written by Jane Espenson; directed by David Grossman

Buffy battles some vamps in a cemetery with a little help from the Scoobies. They follow a vamp to a crypt, where a bunch of vampires are feeding on a victim. They leave, Buffy stating that she could kill all of the vamps, but Anya arguing that she would get killed doing it. Buffy agrees, saying, “You know who we need.” They head to a mansion and tell someone that they have a problem. Jonathan (last seen in “Graduation Day, Part 2”) turns around and replies, “Sounds like you could use my help.” (Note: the opening credits have been altered so that Jonathan is the main player in them.) At Giles’s apartment, Buffy trains, Willow and Giles research, Xander practices his staking techniques, and Anya tries to open a milk carton. Buffy thanks Jonathan for helping them and they do a little sparring. Jonathan warns Buffy to watch out for southpaws after she admires his abilities.

Willow finds schematics for the vamp nest and is disappointed to see that there’s no back entrance. Jonathan finds it and tries to encourage Willow. Jonathan tells Buffy that she’ll go in first, then pauses to win a game of chess he’s been playing with Giles. The Scoobies head to the crypt, dusting all of the vamps with Jonathan’s help. Buffy is disappointed that one almost got away, and Jonathan tries to cheer her up. She worries that she didn’t do her best. On the way out of the crypt, a number of photographers take pictures of Jonathan and ignore the Scoobies. Jonathan sense that Spike is lurking around and the two face off. Jonathan threatens to dust Spike as soon as he’s back to normal.

In Tara’s dorm room, she and Willow tape pieces of paper onto the wall as Willow tells Tara about the night’s events. Tara hopes that Buffy is okay after what happened with Faith (see “This Year’s Girl” and “Who are You”). Willow says that she bets Buffy and Riley have made up as the two continue working on what turns out to be a collage of Jonathan pictures. In Riley’s room (where he now has a poster of Jonathan playing basketball), he tells Buffy that he’s feeling better but that they still don’t have any information on Adam. Buffy laments that, as the Slayer, she should be more adept at slaying. She gets uncomfortable when Riley moves closer to her, and winds up leaving.

Later, she talks to someone in a coffee shop while fixing up a cup of coffee. She blames Faith for all of her troubles, saying that everything with Riley was fine before she came along. She passes the cup across the table to Jonathan, who apparently likes to have women do things for him for no reason. He tells her that he thinks she’s angry with Riley, not Faith. A girl approaches and asks Jonathan for an autograph, which he gives. Buffy says that Riley had no way of knowing he wasn’t with her, but Jonathan thinks that she still needs to forgive him. A woman named Karen (“with a ‘K’”) asks Jonathan to autograph his book for her, and he does so. Buffy admits that she has been blaming Riley a little and worries that she can’t make up with him. He assures her that she’ll be able to, though they may have to work at it. As he stands in front of his own sneaker billboard, he tells her that she can do anything she wants.

In the Initiative, a Colonel Haviland announces that he’s in charge until a facility review has been finished. He says that he’s brought in a consultant to help them find Adam, and Jonathan reveals that he’s been standing behind other Initiative members, unseen. Because he’s short. Isn’t that hilarious? Laugh it up. He lectures the commandos on Adam’s structure, saying that he contains a core of uranium 235, which makes him seemingly indestructible. Outside Jonathan’s mansion, Karen with a “K” plays Peeping Tom with a pair of binoculars and is chased by a monster. Back at the Initiative, Jonathan tells Riley that Buffy wants to make up with him. He encourages Riley to make sure Buffy knows he only loves her and says that often “people can’t always see what’s right in front of them.” Ironically, I guess you could say, he has blindfolded himself and is about to shoot apples off of some commandos’ heads.

The Scoobies hang out at the Bronze and Xander accuses Anya of saying Jonathan’s name during sex the night before. She denies it, saying that she moaned. Buffy and Riley discuss Xander and Anya, but avoid talking about their own relationship. Jonathan appears onstage and begins singing, dedicating his song to Buffy and Riley. The couple dances, finally moving past their troubles without needing to discuss them. Jonathan begins playing a trumpet and Tara exclaims that he’s going to play something from his new album. Turned on, Xander and Anya skedaddle to go have sex. The concert is interrupted when Karen with a “K” runs in and Jonathan sees that she was injured by the monster.

Jonathan takes Karen to his mansion, where a police officer tells him that a staff member reported a disturbance on the grounds. Jonathan asks Karen to describe the monster, which she does, mentioning that it had a mark on its forehead. She draws the symbol for Buffy and Riley, and, upon seeing the symbol, Jonathan seems less confident. He says that he’s heard of the monster and that he’ll patrol without help. Elsewhere, Adam and a vampire named Jape, look at footage of Jonathan and discuss the monster that Karen encountered. Adam is unfamiliar with Jonathan, to Jape’s surprise, and says that all of the footage of him is a lie. Everyone is under a spell, but Adam has not been affected because he is too “awake and alive.” Jape says that Adam could kill Jonathan, but Adam says that eventually the spell will lead to chaos, which he’ll enjoy. Before heading to bed with twins, Jonathan reveals that he has a tattoo on his back of the symbol seen on the monster.

Walking through Sunnydale, Buffy tells Willow and Tara that she’s not going to go after the monster, per Jonathan’s request. She notices that Jonathan seemed scared, but Willow reminds her that Jonathan doesn’t get scared - Buffy said so herself when she gave Jonathan the Class Protector Award (see “The Prom”). Tara heads off to her dorm and Buffy tells Willow how nice it was to be with Riley again. In her dorm, Tara encounters the monster, which attacks her. She tries to get away from him, chanting something and creating smoke that temporarily blinds the monster until she can make it to a janitor’s closet. The next morning, Buffy arrives at Tara’s room to find Willow tending to her. Buffy draws the symbol on a piece of paper and Tara confirms that the monster had that mark. Willow reminds Buffy that Jonathan told them they were all safe.

Buffy walks through Sunnydale, passing posters advertising Jonathan.com. She arrives at Xander’s basement, where Anya greets her reluctantly. Buffy asks if she can look through some of Xander’s things and does so while Anya reads Jonathan’s book. Among Xander’s Jonathan paraphernalia are a poster, a comic book, and trading cards. Buffy asks if Anya thinks it’s strange that Jonathan is so good at so many things; she doesn’t. Buffy takes the book from her (making Anya complain that she was at the part where Jonathan invents the Internet) and points out that Jonathan fights better than her, though she’s the Slayer. She asks about the kinds of wishes that Anya granted when she was a vengeance demon (see “The Wish”), and Anya tells her about some of them. Buffy asks if someone can wish to make the world different, and Anya confirms that he or she could - he or she could wish to have a world without shrimp, or with nothing but shrimp, or where Jonathan is just a nerd.

Later, the Scoobies gather at Giles’, where Buffy continues to probe into the mystery of Jonathan’s specialness. How did he star in The Matrix without leaving Sunnydale? How did he graduate from med school when he’s only 18? Buffy says that Jonathan might be too perfect, but Xander protests, naming the great things Jonathan has done - he crushed the Master’s bones (see “When She Was Bad”), blew up the Mayor (see “Graduation Day, Part 2”), and coached the U.S. women’s soccer team to the World Cup (we don't have an episode for that). Buffy has Anya explain the idea of alternate universes again, but Riley is the only person who supports Buffy’s theory. Buffy mentions Jonathan’s reaction to seeing the symbol, then asks Giles if he has a Jonathan swimsuit calendar. “No,” Giles says. Buffy doesn’t buy it. “Yes,” he admits. “It was a gift.” They flip through the calendar (“pretty darn lickable,” says Anya) and find a picture in which they can see Jonathan’s tattoo. Just then, Jonathan enters.

Anya mentions the monster, and Buffy asks Jonathan for clarification on what’s going on. He tells the Scoobies that he has a history with the monster, and that every time they face off, the monster exerts some sort of control over him. He had the mark tattooed on himself to remind him not to underestimate the monster. The Scoobies seem to buy the story, but Buffy remains skeptical. She suggests that she and Jonathan go after the monster and Jonathan reluctantly agrees. They head off to the cemetery, where they run into Spike again. Buffy tries to stand up to him, and he says that, some day, he would love to go up against her. Jonathan grabs him and asks him if he knows where the monster is. After Jonathan lets him go, Buffy grabs Spike, surprising him. She gets him to tell them that the monster might be hiding in a nearby cave.

The Scoobies look through spell books back at Giles’ apartment, Riley fascinated by the possibilities. Willow finds the symbol, which is used in augmentation spells. However, in order to balance the good and evil elements upon doing a spell, a monster is created. The Scoobies realize that Jonathan created the monster when he did a spell to make himself cool. Riley worries that Buffy and Jonathan are heading for danger, and Giles says that if the monster dies, the spell will be broken. Anya notes that, in that case, Jonathan won’t want to let Buffy kill the monster. After a misdirecting moment near a bottomless pit in a cave, Buffy and Jonathan encounter the monster, which immediately knocks Jonathan out.

The Scoobies practice accepting the fact that Buffy was right, a concept they find difficult to believe. Riley wonders what the world is really like and Giles says that things will be the same, except for Jonathan, an idea which Xander likens to a “world without sunshine! World without joy!” Riley mentions that, if Buffy loses the battle, the world won’t change. Of course, the Scoobies don’t want her to die, they just want her to be unsuccessful. In the cave, Buffy fights the monster, soon helped by Jonathan, who has regained consciousness. He tells her that she’ll have to handle it on her own and says that the more she hurts it, the more he’ll lose his abilities. As she fights, Buffy begins to remember fighting and grows stronger and more capable. Jonathan tackles the monster, sending them both into the pit. Buffy grabs Jonathan and pulls him out as the world returns to normal.

The Scoobies hang out on campus the next day, amazed at how they fell for the fake world. Buffy spots Jonathan nearby and heads over to talk to him as Anya wonders who really starred in The Matrix. Buffy asks how Jonathan did the spell, and he explains that, after the events of “Earshot,” he went to counseling with other kids. He met a guy who told him about the spell but left out the part about the monster. Jonathan apologizes and Buffy asks if he understands why everyone’s mad - they don’t like knowing that they were controlled. She says that he can’t just make things better with one big gesture; he has to work at it. He reminds her of the similar advice that he gave her about Riley. Later, in Riley’s room, he and Buffy smooch and she murmurs, “Jonathan.”

MORAL, or CRAMMING COMPLEX ISSUES INTO A NUTSHELL: Alternate universes are fun, but deadly. Like skydiving!

GRADE: B+ Starting in the midst of bizarro world made this even better.

MEMORABLE QUOTES - “I don't care if it is an orgy of death, there's still such a thing as a napkin.” - Willow

Anya: “They weren't very well organized. If they had all rushed at Buffy, they could have killed her right away.”
Buffy: “Thanks, Anya. That won't keep me awake all night.”

Spike: “Yeah, back off, Betty.”
Buffy: “It's Buffy, you big, bleached…stupid guy.”

Buffy: “Anya, tell them about the alternate universes.”
Anya: “Oh, okay. Um…say you really like shrimp a lot. Or we could say you don't like shrimp at all. ‘Blah, I wish there weren’t any shrimp,’ you would say to yourself.”
Buffy: “Stop, you're saying it wrong! I think that Jonathan may be doing something so that he’s manipulating the world and we're all like his pawns.”
Anya: “Or prawns.”

Willow: “They work, Riley, but they take concentration. Being attuned with the forces of the universe.”
Xander: “Right, you can’t just go, ‘Librum incendere’ and expect--.” (his book bursts into flames)
Giles: “Xander, don’t speak Latin in front of the books.”

Xander: “So, we're saying he did a spell just to make us think he was cool?”
Giles: “Yes.”
Xander: “That is so cool!”

Willow: “Buffy was right. Buffy was right.”
Anya: “It doesn't sound very likely, does it?”

Xander: “You know what I’ll always remember?”
Riley: “The swimsuit calendar’s sticking in my mind.” (Buffy raises her eyebrows) “Not in a good way.”
Xander: “I’ll always remember the way he made me feel about me. Valued, respected, sort of tingly…. Now I’m just empty.”
Buffy: “Poor Xander. I guess Jonathan hurt you most of all.”
Tara: (raising her hand) “Ummm.”
Buffy: “Except, of course, after Tara.”

“Like Martin Luther King. But probably a lot less eloquent…and with the…evil…so, different than Martin Luther King. Let’s move on.” - Willow (from the original script)

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