The Freshman • S04E01 • TPN’s Buffy Guide

The Freshman • S04E01 • TPN’s Buffy Guide

“Today, you all graduate from high school.” “Today, all the pain, all the work, all the excitement” “…is finally over.” “It’s been a long road getting here, “…for you. for Sunnydale.” “There’s been achievement,” “joy, good times.”” “And there’s been grief.” “There’s been loss.” “Journey’s end.” “And what is a journey?” “Is it just…” “distance traveled? “Time spent?” “No.” “It’s what happens on the way.” “It’s the things that shape you.” “At the end of the journey,
you’re not the same.” “Today is about change.” “Nothing will ever be the same.” “Nothing.” It’s summertime in the graveyard,
where Buffy and Willow are organizing Buffy’s schedule for the upcoming semester at college. Freshman year. We find out they’re taking Psychology together
lead by the world renowned Professor Walsh. Buffy is obviously nervous and distracted
with the impending change. Something that is reflected in her slaying. “Is this guy ever going to wake up?” I am NOT a defender of the remaster but I will say there’s a small detail in this scene I never noticed in the standard def(inition). Willow is wearing a hoodie
with an emblem on it
that says, “The Hysteric Woman.” According to Wikipedia,
female hysteria was
a once-common medical diagnosis, reserved exclusively for women. It’s diagnosis and treatment were routine for
many hundreds of years in Western Europe. Women considered to have it
exhibited a wide array of symptoms, including nervousness, sexual desire, shortness of breath, irritability and a “tendency to cause trouble”. Hell…yeah. The next morning,
Buffy is lost in a sea of students and Whedon gives us a very quick
and confronting cross section of campus life. “Have you accepted Jesus Christ
as your personal savior?” –“Uhh.
You know I meant to and then I just got really busy.” Willow has already begun to blossom in the
energy of a higher education. It’s an experience that people CHOOSE to have,
rather than are subjected to like high school. So Willow,
mostly shunned in high school,
is excited to be in college. And Oz, while sympathetic to Buffy’s displacement,
is obviously quite at home as well. “My band’s played here a lot.” “Still…all new…” “I don’t know what the hell’s is going on. “Hey, Doug.” I do love this twisting shot, in the actual USC library,
that shows Buffy’s feelings of being dwarfed by it all. As Willow and Buffy walk along, their conversation reveals
that Giles is now an unemployed gentleman of leisure and Xander is the midst of a cross country trip. In the school bookstore, Buffy accidentally
knocks a pile of books onto… [knowledge is painful] [Those who don’t know their history
are doomed to repeat it] [reading is FUNdamental] Riley Finn’s head. Riley is the T.A. for Professor Walsh’s class
and introduces himself to the two Scoobies. Riley is a key character, for which there are
A LOT of opinions in the fanbase, but as I make these videos with
the intention of avoiding spoilers it’s going to be a little while
before I give you my complete rundown. Riley and Willow hit it off over the topic
of “operant conditioning”, Professor Walsh’s specialty. Operant conditioning (also called “instrumental
conditioning”) is a type of learning in which the strength of behavior is modified
by the behavior’s consequences,
such as a reward or punishment. An example of operant conditioning might be
a shock collar. Every time a dog barks the collar shocks them,
and eventually the dog won’t bark anymore. Has the dog learned that the barking is bad,
or is the dog simply avoiding pain? This is Professor Walsh’s specialty. Buffy gets humiliated by the insanely arrogant
pop media professor and kicked out of class. A part of me feels like this is Whedon’s commentary
on higher education pop media courses. Which is funny
given Whedon properties
keep a lot of these classes going. Feeling alone and isolated
she wanders the school halls and runs into Riley
who walks her to Psychology where we meet
Professor Walsh “Those of you who don’t,
will come to know me by the name my T.A.-s use,
and think I don’t know about: “the evil bitch monster of death.” That line always THUDS for me. I feel like her students would’ve come up
something much more clever if it stuck. Wicked Walsh. Orrr…. Monster Maggie. Monster Maggie Wicked Walsh. Uhm…. …s wh.. s-s-stupid face? After class she runs into Eddie, “You raped my sister.
You murdered her.
You killed her children.” …another lost Freshman. Buffy said school is making her feel like
carrying around a security blanket, one must assume she means Mr. Gordo, and Eddie chimes in with: “’Of Human Bondage’.” “Have you ever read it?” Now of course,
there’s no such thing as an arbitrary literary reference in ‘Buffy’. ‘Of Human Bondage’ is an incredibly complex
and somewhat autobiographical book by
William Somerset Maugham. To grossly oversimplify,
the story is about Philip and his journey to eliminate the constraints
imposed on him by ideologies and institutions
in order to live more freely. But the story is more a warning of how the
world blocks Philip’s efforts to do that, and ultimately Philip abandons his hopes and
dreams in exchange for “normality.” An existentialist might say he is living
inauthentically, and that the institutions in Philip’s life
(mostly religion and school)
actively encouraged him to do so. No surprise then that Eddie quickly gets eaten. Eddie and Buffy console each other, which is the show’s handing equivalent of handing Eddie a red shirt and having him beam down to the planet with Kirk and Spock. “You have a first rate mind
and you can think on your feet.” “Imagine what you could accomplish
if you actually did the–” “–the homework thing.” “The homework thing.” [Sorry to bug you.] He is promptly killed by a cadre of vampires who steal his things from his dorm room and leave a note saying he flipped out. At their hideaway they’re divvying up his stuff. I absolutely love the bit where they guess
whether the victim had a Klimt or a Monet poster. Whedon’s calling out of that Freshman cliché is perfect and I would argue the game should have a
third category: Einstein posters with quotes on them. …I had all three. Buffy, realizing Eddie has been taken,
seeks solace in her parental units, starting with Giles …WHO has an attractive pantsless guest and is wandering his home in a silk robe
during what appears to be the middle of the day. “I’m not supposed to have a private life?” “–Nooo…” “….because you’re very, very old and it’s…gross.” Buffy tries to get Giles to join in the search for Eddie and Giles expresses some Scotch soaked apathy and says that Buffy
doesn’t have a Watcher anymore. Out on patrol, Buffy discovers Eddie has turned, stakes him and loses a fight to the vampire, Sunday. It’s an unspectacular and quickly lost fight. Alone, dejected, she goes home to see Joyce and discovers Joyce has already filled her room
with stuff. [rings] “Hello.” [You used to call me on my cellphone…] “Hello.” [Not committing to Drake jokes today] Nearing bottom, Buffy finds her way to the
Bronze and her metaphorical heart who has been conspicuously absent this whole episode, appears. Xander explains his summer has gone seriously awry and Buffy says the same. She’s feeling dejected and no longer herself and Xander takes a knee and gives her one of my favorite lines ever. “Let me tell you something.” “When it’s dark, and I’m all alone and I’m scared or freaked out or whatever, “I always think:” “‘What would Buffy do?’” “You’re my hero.” The return of her metaphorical heart helps
her find the courage to confront the situation as she always would have. Buffy and Xander figure out where the vampire
hideout is and while Xander is off seeking weapons the roof collapses
and Buffy confronts Sunday. Xander finds Oz and Willow and they head to
the vampire hideout with weapons. Sunday destroys Buffy’s
Class Protector award and Buffy finds her mojo
and takes out the rest of them. And the episode ends with the straggler being
taken out by a weird trio of military men. As I’ve said in previous guides,
season openers have got to be some of the most difficult episodes to write and I have to believe that
‘The Freshman’ was one of the most difficult
in the series. As the Mayor said on graduation day,
nothing will ever be the same. Whedon completely upends the apple cart. That comfortable sweet formula that had found
a perfect groove sometime in Season 3 is gone. No more hours in the library, no more Snyder, No more daily check-ins with Mom, and all of the familiar high school iconography. So as much as ‘The Freshman’
is not one of my favorite openers,
I have great respect for the series’ courage to take risks. Because ‘Buffy’ is a show ABOUT
a person’s life for seven years and just like OUR lives things change. Grooves are lost and routines are destroyed. But the consequence is that Season 4 takes a little
bit of time to find its footing, just as it would’ve taken Buffy
in this kind of transition. And just when you feel like it’s found it, some factors external to the show,
once again, altered the direction of the season, which ultimately had the effect of
somewhat neutering the season arc, even though the season itself
has some of the best one offs in the series. I love nearly every episode in ‘Season 4’, but it doesn’t add up
in quite the way ‘Season 2’ and ‘3’ did. But we’ll get there. I’d put the opener somewhere in the middle
of the seven, that means it’s still really darn good. Still, some of the setup feels
a little clunky to me. The way in which Buffy gets her butt handed
to her by Sunday and then manages to just find her mojo big time again
in the end of the episode. Or Eddie’s clunky ‘Of Human Bondage’
name drop, which you know is going to have some sort of
deep thematic resonance later on. These elements all work when they have been
nourished and fed by a season arc but in the openers it has the effect of making each shot
feel like it was setup juuuust before the camera turned the corner. As I’ve said. Season openers are hard. Still, there is much to savor and indulge
in here. So many of the details of college ring true. I love the entire opening sequence where Buffy
is loudly being recruited
by each of the different sub groups. I strongly identified with her sense of displacement. I love the introduction of Giles’ lack of clarity as to where the line is between allowing Buffy to face certain confrontations on her own, or to show up and risk impeding her
becoming a strong independent adult. And I love Kathy, “I just know that this whole year is gonna be SUPER fun.” another poison juice box
that I take great joy in despising. I think the show’s creators also made a
deliberate alteration to the look of the series
starting with this season, perhaps in an attempt
to differentiate itself from its spinoff ‘Angel’ which began the same year. The first season and a half of Buffy is very
gritty and dim. ‘The Freshman’ looks brighter
and the colors more deeply saturated. Things pop off the screen. It feels to me like the final letting go of
the show’s original aspiration to be a high school HORROR show. This season, ‘Buffy’ looks to me like the writing
always felt, as though it’s now allowed to visually have
it’s own sweetness and identity. Sunday’s destruction of Buffy’s Class Protector award is
deeply symbolic. I touched on it in the
‘Top 10 Buffy or Angel episodes
that remind us everything is going to be alright.’ But, in brief,
the show staunchly avoids happy endings. There are no endings in the series. ‘The Prom’ was a bright, shiny, warm light. True. but the destruction of the Class Protector award is to me a symbol of the constant inevitability of time. We are always moving forward. “I can’t wait ’til Mom gets the bill for these books. “I hope it’s a funny aneurysm.” [rewind] “I can’t wait ’til Mom gets the bill for these books. “I hope it’s a funny aneurysm.” [rewind] [zoom] “I can’t wait ’til Mom gets the bill for these books. “I hope it’s a funny aneurysm.” [TEXT BOOKS KEEP FALLIN’ ON MY HEAD]

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  1. I am basically with you on this episode. I like the visual style and direction, and like you say the rough edges do make it feel like a tease and gives the sense of Buffy finding her feet in a new location and of characters moving onto something new.

    Sunday didn't impress me as a villain so I felt she was the main weak point for me. I liked the promise of Eddie, but can see what you mean about some of his scene feeling clunky and overall the episode felt too much like a set up.

    Out of interest if this is middle of the pack for seasons openers for you, then which would you have lower? For me only BVS.D is weaken, though S6's opener suffers from being a two-parter.

  2. Season 4 is not a terrible season but it is one of the weaker seasons of the show for me. It's more of a transitional season more than anything. Buffy transitioning from a teenager in high school to graduating and going off to college. Then in Season 5 she leaves college and about a couple of episodes later on and from then on she's more of an adult looking out for her sister, getting a job, paying the mortgage, etc. College just wasn't for her really. She just didn't have the time for it. Anyway it's not that that makes Season 4 weaker than some of the other seasons for me. It's the fact that Season 4 introduces Riley Finn, a character which I'm very meh on. He seems to not have much personality and not much of an interesting background. At least with Angel even though he didn't emote very much, he at least did have a very deep and interesting backstory that made me more sympathetic towards him. And the overarching plotline of this season just isn't emotionally gripping because of the Initiative, and the Initiative is just not that interesting, I've seen this before. The big secret military organization that tries to capture things beyond their power, you know they're not gonna succeed in their goal of capturing demons and it's only a matter of time. It's like General Ross and the military trying to capture the Hulk. The more they try the more they provoke him and the more damage that they cause during the process. And then there's the Big Bad of the season Adam, who is probably the weakest Big Bad throughout the entire show. Actually the more I think about how Ultron was in Avengers: Age of Ultron the more he reminds me a bit of Adam in Season 4 of Buffy. Neither villains received a lot of love from the fans and I can understand why. They're just robots who have a God complex who want to cause death and destruction due to some philosophical reasoning. And I'm kinda meh on that really 'cause I feel like I've seen it before. And they don't pose as much of a threat that have long lasting impacts either (well Ultron does actually, the problem with him is that he's not as menacing as he should be 'cause of the amount of one-liners he delivers, it's more of Adam who's actions don't have any real lasting consequences). Plus this season has some of the most dumbest episodes of the entire show I've ever seen that are just as bad as the filler episodes from Season 1 and 2. First there was Beer Bad which was stupid as hell and Where the Wild Things Are which was just so cringe-inducing. The only good thing about that episode was Giles playing guitar singing Behind Blue Eyes. So while it has those aspects about it that I don't like, it does have some good standalone episodes that don't tie in much to the overarching plot like Hush which was so much fun and so creatively done, Something Blue which was hilarious as was Pangs ("A bear, you made a bear! Undo it! Undo it!"), Restless which was very artistically done and had great cinematography and does a good job at foreshadowing certain things that'll happen in Season 5. Honestly any episode of this show that's written and directed by Joss Whedon ranges from either great to some of the best episodes on television ever made. And that one Halloween episode where the characters go into a haunted house and experience their worst fears and Anya dresses up as a bunny which is so cute, especially since she hates bunnies (I forgot the name of the episode). And also the one where Giles becomes a demon. I like Spike's development, like how the chip in his head prevents him from harming humans and becomes an unlikely ally to the Scooby Gang. He sorta becomes the gang's Cordelia after Cordelia herself left the show for Angel. And the breakup between Willow and Oz was so sad but I like the introduction of Tara and her relationship with Willow. Faith switching bodies with Buffy and when Faith was in Buffy's body she beats up Buffy who's in her own body and calls her disgusting when you know she's referring to herself and beating herself up, which is pretty sad to see. So yeah Season 4 is a middle of the road kind of season for me, it has it's drawbacks but it has its redeeming qualities too. I still prefer it over Season 1 and Season 7 though.

  3. That Angel moment destroyed me. Can't help but wonder what would have happened if he'd opened his stupid mouth. It's like Bangel-speak but instead we have Bangel-NON-speak

  4. great fade in at the beginning, keep doing what you do I have done loved this show since I first saw it in like 2000 and rewatch it every year and you really do a great job of analyzing it.

  5. i'm very excited you're back! this is when the show started to lose me (though after going through college it became a lot more relatable …) so the guides will be nice to help me connect to the later seasons. don't really have anything to say except that i, too, can summarize my feelings on Riley by saying that i enjoy seeing him get brained by a big pile of heavy textbooks on repeat.

  6. "The Hysteric Woman" = nod to "The Bionic Woman", a TV series from 1976, featuring a female superhero named Jamie Sommers, who is endowed with extraordinary strength by a secret government cybernetics program. The design style of the patch attached to Willow's sweatshirt is a ringer for art used in the show's promotional materials (here is an example, a bubblegum wrapper: It's why the slightly unusual grammar matches ("The Hysteric Woman" as opposed to "Hysterical Woman"). Obviously, this is foreshadowing this season's Big Bads (the [spoiler] and the [spoiler] who created him).

  7. Also, am I the only one who finds the sight of Angel casually reading Sartre, framed by firelight, unintentionally hilarious for reasons they can't quite articulate?

  8. It's so good to see these again! I laughed harder than I should of at the scene of the books falling on Riley.

  9. Odd, because "The Freshman" is easily my favorite opener. It's far less moody than most of the openers. It's vital. It's entertaining. It's well-paced. Nothing spectacular. But probably the most complete (or rather least irritating) first episode.

  10. This episode means so much to me and embodies a lot of what Buffy represents and why I relate to her. I get why people are/were disappointed by it, but it's one of my all time favorites and I love how the show finally gets its colors and brightness (Awesome detail to point out!) and yet the struggles seem to be more real. I couldn't think about a better metaphor for becoming an adult.

  11. "I had all three." ded. i liked this opener because it was so relateable to me. I first watched Buffy as a kid, but seriously re-watched it again as a freshman in college, and man s4's opening hit hard. the whole coming back home to have her room totally different is just too relateable. I imagine as I get older I'll find other things to relate to. And I think I'll begin to understand Angel more, now that I'm an adult.

    I love how one of the protests in the beginning is like super vague and generic. There's a giant sign that just says "THIS MUST STOP" and you have no clue what it is, which kind of reads to me like "college students just like to protest stuff!!" gives me a chuckle. also the super mean professor that yells at Buffy is really unrealistic and unnecessarily rude that it makes me laugh too.

  12. WWBD SUPERNATURAL SEASON 1 sam and dean meet the ghost facers , what would buffy do? Im sad thats where i heard it first.

  13. I know I'm gonna get hate for this but I have to say-I love Riley. People blame him, but Riley was suffering from depression because buffy didn't let him in and so the biting helped him feel better. Personally he's a bit annoying, but I still like him.

  14. Sunday is in my top 5 of buffyverse characters who were killed off or eliminated way too soon (or used far too little). (Actually, season 4 has at least three such characters for me.)

  15. Really enjoy your videos but just a correction. That is the UCLA Powell library. In fact, most of the shots of the UC Sunnydale campus are from Bruin Plaza, Royce Hall, and other UCLA locations. =)

  16. She foreshadows her mom's death in this episode! "Can't wait for mom to get the bill for these books. I hope it's a funny aneurysm…"

  17. The Freshmen was when things started to get depressing with the show. Mainly because Buffy didn't fit in and it was told in her viewpoint. Willow's viewpoint would have felt less melancholic because she grew into her power from that season.

  18. Two things – 1 – When I saw the funny aneurysm – I about lost my you know what. Then 2 – hit him w/ the books again.

  19. The freshman is one of my favorite episodes because it explores buffy's more human identity rather than her identity as the slayer. Everything feels so real and honest. The opening scene is my absolute favorite. Love it.

  20. "The Evil Bitch-Monster of Death" I think draws parallels between Adam and prof. Walsh and the evil she births to life. Adam is "The Evil Bitch-Monster of Death". but thank god uberbuffy is forever. 🙂 Love your buffy videos.

  21. Eddy and Oberyn is same guy? But… But… Wow. Okay. Dang.

    Still sad about Oberyn no one can convince me otherwise

  22. I doubt it's an Easter egg as it would be too obscure even for Buffy but in the UK the abbreviation for the plural TAs is generally used for a soldier in the Territorial army (army reserves) so for a British fan it almost feels like foreshadowing when Walsh keeps talking about the fear her TAs have for her. It's obviously a coincidence but it still amuses me. lol

  23. Lmaaaaaooo that replay of Riley getting hit in the head with books made my day! I have to thank you deeply for these guides, your why you should watch buffy sermon is what finally convinced my best mate to watch Buffy, and watching your guides has helped me on my annual rewatch of Buffy by going through the ones that I usually don't rewatch and shpwing me things I never picked up. Love your work!!

  24. Have to thank you for your super entertaining and very insightful reviews of BTVS. Also must thank you for your consistent and heartfelt ( pun intended 😛 ) views on the character of Xander Harris.

    Xander was always my favorite character, during the shows first run and still to this day – I recently started a rewatch of the show.

    So needless to say I'm was very disappointed at all the Xander hate I've encountered in the fandom.

    I mean yeah a person has the right to dislike a character but from what I've seen it's just this rabid, irrational hate. No intelligent discourse, no real critique – Just hate for hate's sake it seems – Where one takes a very interesting and sometimes problematic (probably what makes them interesting in the first place lol ) character, a good character with flaws and views them as nothing but flawed…

    Very strange,strange indeed. But doesn't surprise me – You see a lot of character hate, shipping wars and crap nowadays – Oh the joy of hiding in virtual space huh.

    But yeah thanks again for your wonderful and INTELLIGENT critiques – they are a pleasure to watch.

  25. It was even more than their environment changing, it was also the relationships they had with each other and others. Also how Buffy would attempt to sorta slowly start to stand on her own as time went on.

  26. I had a lot of Monet posters and that one of a hunk holding a baby that seems specific to the early 90s and the UK. My German friend had no idea what I was talking about when I mentioned it although she did know the hunks name when I showed it to her.

  27. As for the way in which Sunday kicks Buffy’s ass initially but goes down pretty easily at the end I believe is essentially a lingering result of an earlier draft.

    Sunday was originally intended to be a slayer turned vampire. Seems a bit more reasonably that on first contact Buffy would lose horribly as she doesn’t expect to casually run into a vampire of that power at a college of all places. At the end having done her research, knowing who Sunday was and having gotten her feet back under her thanks to Xander she is able to battle Sunday with the expectation and preparation of a slayer on slayer fight the way she combated Faith. Sunday who has never battled a slayer who knows how to combat slayers goes down much easier on the rematch.

    I assume this was scrapped as we’d just come off Buffy Vs Faith and this might feel like a retread with some token efforts made to make it look more formidable (ooooo, she’s a slayer and a vampire, double threat).

  28. I don't know if I'm in the minority but I think that season 4 is my favorite season. It's the only one where buffy isn't constantly depressed and horrible things are happening to her. It's the nice season, just like riley

  29. I have a lot of nostalgia for this season, probably because I first watched it while doing my Bachelor's degree…I am surprised you didn't mention the obvious (and for me, most meta, issue): the fact that Sunnydale suddenly sprouted a university after being described by Cordelia as a small town ("the bad part of town is across the street from the good part" – we don't have a lot of town). 38000 pop? As for the season as a whole. While I definitely like the one-offs, there are a lot of problems with it and a lot of them aren't the obvious ones (people not liking Riley, The Initiative or Adam) – the whole thing simply doesn't mesh as a season that well despite having a university freshman year as a nicely potential bookend. Why? Probably because the writers soon realized that they actually wanted to leave the University setting (and for good reason).

  30. David Boreanaz (Angel) and Charisma Carpenter (Cordelia) are no longer series regulars and have been removed from the opening credits. They already left to work on the Angel spin-off.

  31. All these comments are so old I don't even know if anyone reads them anymore but just had to comment on Willows hoodie. The Hysterical Woman is a book by a female author whose last name is Rosenberg same as Willow. I'm assuming that's the reason she is wearing it. Supposedly a family member perhaps

  32. You said the scene where Xander asks Buffy out is personally hard for you to watch. This whole episode is that scene for me. Every time I see it it’s almost physically painful the empathy I feel. Because it’s too much like my experience of college except for me the whole 4-5 years were like this episode on repeat.

  33. Man, the color light changes are one of the big reasons I don’t love later seasons as much as earlier ones. Makes it feel generic to me. But I’m also a melodramatic goofball, so maybe I just liked the drama of it all.

  34. Weirdly enough, the thing that freaked me out more than most of the horror in the first few seasons of Buffy was this unnervingly accurate depiction of a busy campus experience. I felt claustrophobic and overwhelmed just watching it.

  35. i am, and always will be, the only person in the entire fandom, that actually loves riley and shoulders the burden of the vitriol the fandom, en mass, spews.

    it is the reason i have never once felt accepted into the fandom. i've left countless forums, chatrooms– i've blocked btvs on twitter and tumblr b/c i got tired of the riley hate back in middle school. as it is, the moment he is introduced here, i immediately feel that cold wash of fight or flight. is it time to stop watching? should i just skip around? i have loved this series so far and i had hope that this topic would be handled better but as usual, w/ the voice in the back of my head screaming 'don't look at the comments. don't look at the comments!' i have a long, audible sigh and realize, as usual, not even this deep and thoughtful look into the series is willing to give riley a fair chance.

  36. Interesting tidbit about Willow’s sweatshirt! Hysteria was made up as a way to oppress women through institutionalization and unethical medical procedures (which is kind of a theme this season too, though I think that’s a coincidence). Treating their genuine reactions to having to live under a strict patriarchy as a medical problem. It’s semi-related to the Witch trials in the history of misogyny. Willow’s sweatshirt reclaims it, and absolutely fits with her narrative of finding womanhood, identity, and even the lesbian community as a whole.

  37. Oh! "Pierced tongue!" (i'm too much like Dawn, lol.) It took All THREE repetitions of the 'audio outtakes' for me to catch the meaning of the final, ( unfunny ) 'funny line' ! 😮

  38. I have such trouble watching season 4. Not one of my favorites though some of my favorite funnies are in this season

  39. I nearly died when I found out that Pedro Pascal in GoT was Pedro Balmaceda in Buffy! And he looks like a baby!

  40. How the hell did I miss this future spoiler until now, about the 15th time through the series? 32:50-ish minutes into this episode, we have Xander saying "once more with even less feeling". That brings to mind a certain episode in the sixth season. As does Buffy's response, "Willow's in heaven." Same certain season 6, a couple of episodes. I'm probably WAY overthinking this, but did Joss trigger himself into a musical from this particular script in Season 4?

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