With considerable finesse and aplombbut, unfortunately,
not so much in the way of successXander, Willow and Oz
have spent the summer fighting vampires in Buffy's absence. School
is starting the next day, but they're still focused on their
missing friend. Buffy is dreaming that she is on a beach with
Angel, who puts his arms around her but then says, "I'll
never leave... not even if you kill me." Buffy wakes up
disturbed, and looks out the window of her small apartment at
a downtown city street.
Buffy is a waitress at a small downtown diner,
where she goes by the name "Anne." She seems
spiritless, broken, not even raising her voice at being harassed
by a couple of piggish men. She serves a young couple who have
just blown all their money to get each other's name tattooed
on their arms, and the girl, Lily, asks if she knows Buffy from
somewhere. Buffy says no and leaves the diner. Meanwhile, back
at Sunnydale High School, the first day of school gets underway.
Oz shows up, and Willow finds out that, much to her consternation,
after not graduating last year and then skipping summer school,
he has to repeat the twelfth grade. After much worrying, Xander
and Cordelia's reunion is a decidedly awkward, uncomfortable
affair, and they part ways almost immediately. Giles gets a lead
on Buffy's whereabouts and leaves to catch a flight to Oakland.
As Buffy walks down the city
streets, Lily, the girl from the diner, catches up to her, calling
her by her real name. She remembers Buffy because she was one
of the members of the vampire-wannabe cult that Buffy's friend
Ford tried to offer to Spike. As she thanks Buffy for saving
her life then, an old man pushes his way past them, muttering
"I'm no one," and stops in front an oncoming car. Buffy
rushes to push him out of the way, but gets hit by the car herself.
Buffy gets up pretty quickly
and, despite the concern of the gathering crowd, runs off. As
she hurries away, she runs into a man who introduces himself
as Ken, who tells her about "Family Home," a center
for runaways. Buffy declines his invitation to go there. At the
Bronze, Xander, Willow and Oz are discussing their amateur vampire
slaying when Cordelia walks in, and Xander has an idea. "We
need bait," he says. Giles goes to the Summers house, explaining
to Joyce that his lead in Oakland didn't pan out. Giles tells
her not to blame herself for Buffy's leaving, and Joyce says
she doesn'tshe blames him, for taking Buffy away
Lily comes to the diner where
Buffy works, and tells Buffy that her boyfriend, Rickie, is missing.
Buffy declines to help, saying she's sorry but that isn't who
she is anymore, but Lily pleads and Buffy finally agrees. The
blood bank where Rickie and Lily occasionally gave blood for
money is no help, so they split up and Buffy finds the dead body
of an old man with Lily's name tattooed on his arm. Lily takes
the news badly, accusing Buffy of bringing whatever it was that
killed Rickie with her from Sunnydale. Storming off in a huff,
Lily meets Ken, who invites her to Family Home. Buffy, determined
to make things right, breaks into the blood bank and searches
their records, finding Rickie's record marked "Candidate,"
along with a few others. The nurse reluctantly admits that she
gives "them" the names of healthy young kids. "They"
are apparently Ken and his Family Home, where Buffy pushes her
way in just as Lily is about to go through an initiation ritual.
As Buffy and Ken fight, all three are sucked through the oily,
gooey cleansing pool into an underground chamber. Ken's face
falls off, revealing him to be a demon. They run, but are stopped
by a ledge which looks out onto a huge underground world full
of sackcloth-clad humans, being driven to work by demonic overseers.
Ken then knocks Buffy cold.
Back in Sunnydale, as Cordelia
argues with Xander over her role as bait, a vampire sneaks up
and attacks Willow. Xander rushes to her rescue, and then Cordelia
to his. Together, they manage to kill the vampire, and the flames
of passion between them awaken anew. Buffy comes to in a cell
with Lily, and Ken tells them that time passes much more quickly
in this netherworld, so they could be gone for a hundred years
and only a day would pass in the real world. He works his human
slaves until they're too old, and then returns them to the world
above, just like what happened to Rickie. A demonic overseer
bullies the new slaves into renouncing their identitieseveryone
answers the question "Who are you?" with "I'm
no one" until he gets to Buffy. "I'm Buffy, the Vampire
Slayer," she says with a cocky grin and proceeds to demolish
the overseer and the guards. As she provides a distraction, Lily
leads the slaves away, but gets caught herself by Ken. When Buffy
sees Ken holding Lily hostage, she stops fighting, but then
Lily pushes Ken off the ledge and Buffy and she make their escape.
Ken pursues them, but as Buffy wrenches a heavy iron gate open
to let the escaping slaves through, Ken rushes up behind her
and pushes her away. Buffy falls through the gate, which falls,
trapping Ken beneath it. Buffy kills Ken, and the slaves escape
through the portal, which disappears just as Buffy and Lily make
it through. Buffy gives Lily her job and her apartment. The doorbell
rings at the Summers house, and Joyce answers it to see Buffy
standing there. After a moment of stunned surprise, she sweeps
her daughter into a tearful hug.