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BuffyGuide.com — The Complete Buffy Episode Guide
I Only Have Eyes For You
April 28, 1998
5V19

 
Credits

Writer:
Marti Noxon


Director:
James Whitmore, Jr.


Regulars:
Sarah Michelle Gellar as Buffy Summers
Nicholas Brendon as Xander Harris
Alyson Hannigan as Willow Rosenberg
Charisma Carpenter as Cordelia Chase
David Boreanaz as Angel
Anthony Stewart Head as Rupert Giles
Guest Stars:
James Marsters as Spike
Juliet Landau as Drusilla
Armin Shimerman as Principal Snyder
Cast:
Meredith Salenger as Grace Newman
Christopher Gorham as James Stanley
John Hawkes as George
Miriam Flynn as Ms. Frank
Brian Reddy as Police Chief Bob
Brian Poth as Fighting Boy
Sarah Bibb as Fighting Girl
James Lurie as Mr. Miller
Ryan Taszreak as Ben
Anna Coman-Hidy as 50's Girl #1
Vanessa Bednar as 50's Girl #2

 
Synopsis

The Sadie Hawkins dance is approaching, but Buffy isn't in a romantic mood, and goes to the library to see if there's any slaying to be done. There she stops a boy from killing his girlfriend with a phantom gun. The next day, Xander is attacked by a disembodied arm in his locker, Giles sees another couple fight in exactly the same way as Buffy did — only this time the man shoots the woman — and the cafeteria is infested with snakes. The gang decides a poltergeist is to blame, and try to exorcise it, but the ghost brings on a horde of wasps. The ghost is that of a Sunnydale student who killed his lover, who was a teacher in the school, then killed himself out of guilt. Later, the ghost lures Buffy into the school, and Angelus goes to kill her; however, he becomes possessed by the teacher's personality, while Buffy becomes the boy. She shoots Angelus (which doesn't kill him, of course) and he forgives Buffy / the ghost, which finally allows the ghost peace. Meanwhile, Spike has secretly recovered from his spinal injury. — Short synopsis by Bruce.

For the full, detailed synopsis, click here.

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Monstervision

Poltergeists are, contrary to Giles' explanation, ghosts who cause mischief merely for the chaotic fun of it. They were, of course, featured in the trio of Poltergeist films of the early 1980's. The spirits of the dead hanging around to work out their unresolved issues and possessing the living to help them do it is a plot device that has been seen in stories and movies for years. Notable recent movies dealing with the topic were Ghost (1990), with Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore, and Kenneth Branagh's Dead Again (1991).

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Dialogue to Die For

Xander: "'Something weird is going on.' Isn't that our school motto?"

Giles: "To forgive is an act of compassion, Buffy. It's not done because people deserve it, it's done because they need it."
Buffy: "No. James destroyed the one person he loved the most in a moment of blind passion. And that's not something you forgive. No matter why he did what he did. And no matter if he knows now that it was wrong and selfish and stupid, it is just something he's gonna have to live with."
Xander: "He can't live with it, Buff. He's dead."
     The double meaning in this conversation is just beautiful.

More quotes from this episode...

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Dialogue to Bury

Willow's little tough-girl "final solution" speech in Buffy's bedroom was extremely out of character, even for the Willow who's been finding her inner strength of late.

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References

  • "This was 'I'm dead as hell, and I'm not gonna take it anymore.'"  This is a misquote from the 1976 film Network, an Oscar-winning satire written by playwright Paddy Chayefsky. At one point in the film, a network anchor, played by Peter Finch, yells, "I'm mad as hell and I'm not gonna take it anymore!" The phrase became a popular slogan for years.

  • "Now we're Dr. Laura for the deceased."  Dr. Laura is Dr. Laura Schlessinger, a New York psychologist and author who hosts a nationally syndicated radio program on which she tries to solve listeners' emotional problems. She has her own website at http://www.drlaura.com.

  • "The quality of mercy is not Buffy."  Another Xander misquote, this time of Portia from act 4, scene 1 of Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice:
    The quality of mercy is not strain'd,
    It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
    Upon the place beneath: it is twice blest;
    It blesseth him that gives and him that takes:
    'Tis mightiest in the mightiest: it becomes
    The throned monarch better than his crown;
    His sceptre shows the force of temporal power,
    The attribute to awe and majesty,
    Wherein doth sit the dread and fear of kings;
    But mercy is above this sceptred sway;
    It is enthroned in the hearts of kings,
    It is an attribute to God himself;
    And earthly power doth then show likest God's
    When mercy seasons justice. Therefore, Jew,
    Though justice be thy plea, consider this,
    That, in the course of justice, none of us
    Should see salvation: we do pray for mercy;
    And that same prayer doth teach us all to render
    The deeds of mercy. I have spoke thus much
    To mitigate the justice of thy plea;
    Which if thou follow, this strict court of Venice
    Must needs give sentence 'gainst the merchant there.

  • "Are you crazy? I saw that movie — even the priest died!"  "That movie" is The Exorcist (not The Exorcism), the classic 1973 film directed by William Friedkin. Based on a novel by William Peter Blatty, it tells the story of a 12-year-old girl (played by Linda Blair) who is possessed by a demon. This is the second time Buffy has made reference to the movie. (See "Teacher's Pet")
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Goofs and Gaffes

  • James listens to the song "I Only Have Eyes For You" in the music room as he prepares to kill himself in 1955. But the recording he's listening to is the Flamingos' version, which wasn't released until 1959.
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Notes

  • Meredith Salenger, who played doomed teacher Grace Newman, had her name misspelled in the credits as "Meredith Salinger." (Thanks to TAZ, who noticed the spelling discrepancy.)

  • Bob the Police Chief, played by Brian Reddy, appears here for the second time (the first was in "School Hard").

  • At the very least, Principal Snyder, the Sunnydale police chief, the city council, and the mayor are aware of the Hellmouth's existence. Principal Snyder was given the job of Sunnydale High principal because the city council thought he could help keep the Hellmouth's existence a secret.

  • This episode originally aired with a public service announcement at the end regarding teen suicide. Co-sponsored by Cedars Sinai Medical Center's TeenLine and the American Association of Suicidology, the PSA was voiced over by Sarah Michelle Gellar.

  • Willow mentions using the lesson plans she found on Jenny's computer. One might think this is a goof, since Angel attempted to destroy Jenny's computer in "Passion", but he actually only destroyed the monitor.
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Music

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Comments

Brian:
Well, I'll admit it. I was skeptical of this episode going in. When I saw the promos, I thought, "Oh, great, Buffy does Ghost. If Whoopi Goldberg shows up, I'm leaving." Then the episode began, and we got the flashback scene where Buffy sees Grace and James, and I thought, "Well, there's channeling going on here, but it's Buffy channeling Dawson's Creek." I really need to learn to give Marti Noxon more credit than that. Because while this was one of the darkest and most depressing episodes of the series to date, it was also an example of dense and satisfying storytelling. As Buffy's guilt over the loss of Angel's soul bubbled over into the open, the dramatic screws continue to tighten on her and her friends. And with the escalation of the Spike/Drusilla/Angel triangle, the tension has been ratcheted up to an almost unbearable level. Because of this, I find myself desperately hoping for some resolution soon, hopefully with the impending two-part season finale, because I don't know how much longer I can take this. (8/10)
Will:
I can truly say that this was one of my all time favorite episodes. It of course contained all of the same great qualities of the other episodes that make the show great. It had one thing that I really liked. It seemed to come very close to achieving true horror. Brian (my partner in crime on this site) and I had conversation a while back concerning Stephen King and horror. Stephen King is generally considered to be the expert on horror. His stories are always more than just something weird going on and people dying. It is never just some horrible monster killing people indiscriminately (like any Friday the 13th movie). There always seems to be something present in his stories that go beyond scary, weird or your run of the mill monster. This episode of Buffy seemed to have a mystical and spooky edge to it. The broken-hearted poltergeist could have been a tacky idea but the writers handled it perfectly. I would say that this is the best example of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but in my opinion it is the only episode like this. Cordy's face being mangled in the mirror, Willow being sucked into the floor and a swarm of wasps engulfing the school are all examples of things that could be present in a Stephen King novel and I recently learned could definitely have a place in Buffy... Oh yeah... by the way, Spike is back... I can't wait to see what happens to Angel. Overall, two huge thumbs up. (10/10)
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Nielsens
Air Date Rating Ranking
April 28, 1998 3.6 95 of 112
July 14, 1998 2.4 96 of 110 (tie)

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