Guest Starring: 
 Kristine Sutherland: 
 Charlie Weber: 
 Nick Chinlund: 
 (Major Ellis) 
 Kevin Weisman: 
 Amber Benson: 
 Erib Leigh Price: 
 (Vamp girl) 
 Randy Thompson: 
 (Doctor Kriegel) 
  9. Listening to Fear.  
  As Joyce is prepared for surgery, an extraterrestrial entity is terrorising patients at the mental wing of the hospital.  
  Great quotes:  
The Scoobies go looking for a snot monster.
  • Buffy: "You're [Joyce] the one who insisted on teaching her [Dawn] to talk."
  • Willow buys Joyce a drinks hat as a get-well present: "When I was in the store this seemed like the most important idea, and then there's the part where I'm crazy."
  • Giles: "It's a killer snot monster from outer space. I did not just say that..."
  Fantastic moments:  
  • Buffy finally breaks down and cries for the first time since she discovered her mother's illness. She is trying to do the washing up while the radio pumps out chirpy Latino music; it is the attempt to return to normalcy that brings Buffy's emotions out. Indeed when she is called upon to fight the Quellar demon (Michelle Trachtenberg has a fine pair of lungs) she is able to re-compose herself very quickly.
  • The breakdown in Riley and Buffy's relationship is becoming more apparent, the two of them don't speak to each other for the entire episode.
  • The episode ends with a lovely scene as Buffy levels with Joyce about Dawn's true nature, in return for this honesty Joyce metaphorically hands Buffy the responsibility for being Dawn's mother.
  Duff Bits:  
  • The Quellar demon, although being much better in terms of SFX and scariness than last episode's snake, makes no sense at all. It came from outer space, it attacks mental patients, why?
  • Lots of elements of the plot make no sense at all. When Willow and Tara see the meteor crash, why do they call up all the Scoobies to go to the crash site? There is no reason to suspect supernatural activity. How do they find the site, why are no authorities there before them? Riley then seems to have acquired a degree in chemistry overnight ("... some kind of protein alkaloid...") and, after all his problems and reservations about their true agenda, calls in the remnants of the Initiative!
  • Willow claims that the Tunguska event was the last time a meteor hit the Earth. This is very, very wrong.
  Dean's comments:  
Buffy and Joyce.
This is another very tough episode emotionally, it contains lots of very long and draining scenes in which Buffy, Dawn and Joyce struggle with the fact that she is terminally ill. All of this really rams home the point that Joyce is very sick and that the audience isn't going to get away with avoiding the horrors and depression that brings, it also makes very clear the grimly depressing horror of having a relative ill in hospital. Buffy breaks down into tears at home as she tries to carry on with a semblance of a normal life, something we've never seen the show's heroine do before. Joyce is wheeled away into surgery as the episode closes; is this Joyce's final scene? You don't think the writers would be kind enough to the audience's emotions to signpost her death like this would you? Note also how there is almost no appearance of Spike, Tara or Anya in this episode. This signals the lack of any comic relief, something which BtVS has always used to great effect.
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