Written by Dana Reston; directed by Stephen Cragg

Buffy wants to be a cheerleader (she was one at her old school), but Giles is less than thrilled that she would rather devote her time to jumping around and yelling than to saving the world. She believes that cheerleading can be her outlet of normalcy, but elsewhere an unidentified witch performs a spell with a doll, indicating that normal has no place in Sunnydale. Xander and Willow tag along to Buffy’s tryout; Xander gives her a bracelet for good luck, cementing his crush on her. Also trying out for the squad are Cordelia and Willow’s friend Amy (Elizabeth Anne Allen), who trains with her mother every day. A cheerleader’s hands catch on fire and Buffy manages to save her, but now she’s not so sure that cheerleading is a good choice.

The Scoobies get on the case, offering to help Buffy figure out what’s going on. Buffy is disappointed that her mother doesn’t even remember that she was trying out for the squad. At the next round of tryouts Amy proves that her hours of training haven’t made her very graceful. She points out her mother’s cheerleading trophy to Buffy and expresses her wishes to be trophy-worthy. Willow tells Buffy that Amy’s mother is strict and demanding. The squad list goes up; Cordelia has made it but Buffy and Amy are only alternates. At home, Amy performs a spell, sacrificing Cordelia to some powers that be.

Joyce tries but fails to make a connection with Buffy. The Scoobies notice Cordelia acting strangely; she later goes on a wild ride in a driver’s ed car. Buffy realizes that Cordelia has somehow been blinded. The Scoobies theorize that Amy has been using witchcraft to get rid of her opponents; they find a spell to find out if they’re right. The spell comes out positive, but when another cheerleader becomes the target of a spell and Amy seems as shocked as everyone else, the Scoobies doubt the results. At home Amy demands that her mother, Catherine, do her homework and hints that Buffy will be the next victim of witchcraft.

Buffy wakes up in an overly cheerful mood, surprising her mother and screwing up other cheerleaders at practice. When she’s kicked off the squad, Amy finally achieves her goal and becomes the newest member. However, Buffy’s condition worsens and Giles realizes that she’s been hit with a vengeance spell. He and Buffy head to Amy’s house while Willow and Xander keep an eye on the teenage witch. Buffy and Giles meet Catherine, who is nervous to let them into the house. Buffy realizes that Catherine is really Amy and Amy is really Catherine - Catherine, a practicing witch, switched their bodies so that she could relive her glory days as a cheerleader. Buffy, Giles, and Amy head back to the school to reverse all of Catherine’s spells.

As Giles’ spell begins to take effect, Catherine, in the middle of a cheer, realizes that something is happening. Mother and daughter are reswitched and Buffy, now feeling much better, battles and defeats Catherine. Amy and Buffy quit the squad, deciding to stick with something a little more normal. But Catherine is still around - she’s trapped in her cheerleading trophy.

MORAL, or CRAMMING COMPLEX ISSUES INTO A NUTSHELL: Competition is natural, and healthy, and deadly. Like water!

GRADE: B This episode shows that the Buffyverse doesn't deal solely with vampires. We also see more clearly Xander's desire for a relationship with Buffy, which becomes a recurring theme.


MEMORABLE QUOTES - "For I am Xander, King of Cretins. May all lesser cretins bow before me." - Xander

Giles: "Why would someone want to harm Cordelia?"
Willow: "Maybe because they met her? Did I say that?"

Willow: "Witches: Historic Roots to Modern Practice. Checked out by Alexander Harris."
Buffy: "The Pagan Rites, checked out by Alexander…."
Xander: "All right, all right, it’s not what you think."
Willow: "You like to look at the semi-nude engravings?"
Xander: "Oh, well, uh, I-I guess it IS what you think."

"Yes, the ducking stool! We throw her in a pond. If she floats, she’s a witch; if she drowns, she’s innocent.... Some of my texts are a bit outdated." - Giles (from the original script)

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