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BuffyGuide.com — The Complete Buffy Episode Guide
Gingerbread
January 12, 1999
3ABB11

 
Credits

Writer:
Jane Espenson


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
Seth Green as Oz
Anthony Stewart Head as Rupert Giles
Guest Stars:
Elizabeth Anne Allen as Amy Madison
Armin Shimerman as Principal Snyder
Jordan Baker as Sheila Rosenberg
Kristine Sutherland as Joyce Summers
Harry Groener as Mayor Richard Wilkins III
Cast:
Lindsay Taylor as Little Girl
Shawn Pyfrom as Little Boy
Blake Swendson as Michael
Grant Garrison as Roy
Roger Morrissey as Demon
Daniel Tamm as "Mooster"

 
Synopsis

Joyce Summers joins her daughter on a nightly patrol and discovers the bodies of two dead children. After Giles concludes that the children were killed as part of a cult sacrifice, Joyce organizes a group of parents dedicated to ridding Sunnydale of witches and other evil-doers. Their first act is to tie Buffy, Willow, and Amy to stakes and set them on fire, along with as many of Giles' occult books as they could get their hands on. Giles and Cordelia rescue the girls by revealing that the dead children are actually a demon that feeds on communal fear. Unfortunately, they arrive too late to stop Amy from turning herself into a rat to escape the angry mob. — Short synopsis by Fluff.

For the full, detailed synopsis, click here.

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Monstervision

Hansel and Gretel DemonThe Hansel and Gretel demon is, of course, fictional. However, many folklorists do believe that fairy tales have a basis in real life (not just "a fringe group" as Giles states). There are more mentions of witches in this episode. The goddesses Hecate and Diana are called upon again (see "Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered"). It should be noted that witches seem to describe Hecate and Diana as somewhat different than the traditional Greek and Roman deities. The townspeople of Sunnydale, like most people, have the idea that witches sacrifice young children, animals, etc. There are certainly cults that do, but those who call themselves witches or Wiccans don't.


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Body Count

"Mr. Sanderson from the bank" (vampire)
Staked by Buffy at the park.
Hansel and Gretel demon
In City Hall, Buffy uses the stake she is tied to by leaning forward so that he runs into it.
Total: Two
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Dialogue to Die For

The whole scene between Buffy and Xander, starting with:
Buffy: "Hey, is Willow around?"
Xander: "How can I convince you people that it's over? You assume because I'm here, she's here. That I somehow mysteriously know where she is."
Buffy: "Those her books?"
Xander: "Yeah. She's in the bathroom."

Buffy: "What is this?"
Willow: "A doodle. I do doodle. You too. You do doodle, too."

Buffy: "Giles, we need those books."
Giles: "Believe me, I tried to tell that to the nice man with the big gun."

Buffy: "My mom had said some things to me about being the slayer. That it's fruitless. No fruit for Buffy."

Sheila (Willows mom): "Willow, you cut off your hair. Huh, that's a new look."
Willow: "Yeah, it's just a sudden whim I had — in August."

Buffy: "I'm like the kid in the story, the boy that stuck his finger in the duck."
Angel: "Dike. It's another word for dam."
Buffy: "Oh, OK, that story makes a lot more sense now."

Giles, to a computer: "Session interrupted? Who said you could interrupt, you stupid, useless fad! No, I said fad and I'll say it again!"
Xander, walking in: "At that point I will become frightened."

More quotes from this episode...

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Dialogue to Bury

Joyce, as the two moms are about to light their children on fire: "We should stay close, have lunch."
Sheila (Willow's mom): "Oh, I'd like that. How nice."

Buffy, after stabbing the demon: "Did I get it? Did I get it?"

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References

    Mister Rogers
  • "The patriarchal bias of the Mister Rogers' Show" and "King Friday lording it over all the lesser puppets."  A reference to the 1968-2001 PBS TV show Mister Rogers' Neighborhood. Fred Rogers was the host of this children's television program aiming to teach children the important issues of life, such as being friendly, sharing, etc. Also featured an imaginary world with puppets living in a medieval-type kingdom ruled by King Friday.

  • "...that twisted little homunculus."  Homunculus: A little man; a dwarf; a manikin. In the middle ages, a homunculus was thought to be a microscopic man that was transferred from the man to a woman during the act of coitus and which then grew in the womb. It was also thought to be a magical slave that was made when you mixed human sperm, mandrake root, and other ingredients, and then buried it for a specified amount of time.

  • "I don't know about you, but I'm going to go trade my cow in for some beans."  This is the second reference to the story of "Jack and the Beanstalk"; the first was in "Surprise."

  • "Using what, a dictionary and My Friend Flicka?" My Friend Flicka is a 1941 book for young adults by Mary O'Hara, about a boy and his horse. It was also made into a 1943 movie (starring Roddy McDowall, probably best known as Dr. Cornelius from The Planet of the Apes) and a 1956 TV series.

  • "It happened in Salem." The Salem witch hysteria occurred in Salem, Massachusetts in 1692. Over 160 men and women were accused of witchcraft; 19 were convicted and hanged, at least 5 died in jail, and one man over 80 years old was crushed to death under heavy stones for refusing to submit to a trial. Two dogs were also executed as suspected accomplices of witches. Dozens of accused people languished in jail for months without trials. In October 1692, Governor William Phips ended the special witchcraft court in Salem. Accusations soon abated and eventually stopped. In January 1693, the new Superior Court of Judicature began to try the remaining cases and eventually cleared the jails; no one was convicted in these 1693 trials. In May 1693, Governor Phips released from prison all remaining accussed and convicted "witches." (More information can be found here.)

  • The final book (and "witch") burning scene is reminiscent of Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, in which firemen burn books in order to stop the spread of knowledge, free-thinking, and ideas. Hitler also burned books before World War II, which can be seen in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (also note the goof in this movie of Hitler autographing a book — he was left-handed).

  • "I worship Beelzebub." Beelzebub is the patron god of the Philistines in ancient Palestine. He is also identified with the god of Ekron, Baal-Zebub. The term is a deliberate mocking perversion of the Canaanite Baal-Zebul ("Prince Baal"), one of the standard titles of the god Baal. In the Bible, Beelzebub is the prince of evil spirits and in Milton's Paradise Lost he is Satan's chief lieutenant. He is also called "Lord of the Flies," derived from the Hebrew "Baal-Zevuv".

  • "Hansel and Gretel" is a classic fairy tale by the Brothers Grimm (see References in "Beauty and the Beasts"). It is a tale about two children that get lost in the forest, find a gingerbread house, and are almost cooked in an oven to be eaten by the witch who owns the house.

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Goofs and Gaffes

  • During the locker search, a cop is looking through a coin purse as seen over Snyder's shoulder. A significant amount of time later, and after looking through other things, the same cop is seen looking through the same coin purse.

  • There was some dialogue that was not in the episode or even in the script, but somehow made it into the closed captioning. All of it was during the scene of the police investigation.

    Buffy: "Uh...there was, uh... Oh, it was, uh, Mrs. Plum. In the library. With a ratchet."
    Police Officer: "Did they say anything?"
    Buffy: "No, the dead children did not speak."

    In actuality, we did not hear her say anything, just vague police radio chatter. If she had actually uttered these lines, they would have gone into Dialogue to Bury. Also, there is no ratchet or Mrs. Plum (there is a Mr. Plum) in the game Clue, which is referenced in the first quote. Oddly enough, these lines are not in the script either, so where they came from is a mystery.

  • It is strange that the residents of Sunnydale are holding a "witch" burning indoors (City Hall of all places). Then again, it is also odd for parents to burn their own children at the stake.

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Notes

  • Giles and Joyce refer to the events of  "Band Candy" (in which they — or their teenage alter egos — kissed) when they uncomfortably say "It's been a while."

  • Buffy refers to the events of  "Lovers Walk," when Xander and Willow were caught kissing, when she says to Xander, "You got illicit smoochies, you're gonna have to pay the price."

  • Willow's parents obviously do not pay very much attention to her, as this episode made very clear. Among other things, her mom refers to Buffy as "Bunny" twice, and didn't even know that Willow had cut her hair (see Dialogue to Die For).

  • Willows parents also apparently travel a lot, as her dad was out of town for this episode, and both of them were out of town during  "Amends." Could this be foreshadowing a future episode? Joss & Co. have done this type of thing before; see "Phases."

  • More confirmation of Buffy's reputation for being a bad-ass at school when the bully and his friends are antagonizing Michael. All Buffy has to do is show her face and they back down. Keep in mind Buffy has been expelled from Sunnydale High and burned down the school gym in L.A.

    Three Stooges

  • When the gang is pulling up the articles about the children, the byline on one of them is Howard Fine. Howard, Howard, and Fine was the name of the comedy trio later known as The Three Stooges.

  • Willow's mom, Sheila, seems to be a sociologist or something similar, based on the writings she said that she has done.

  • When Joyce mentions "skinning" in her speech, she is referring to the skins that were left after the fish-men had "hatched" in "Go Fish."

  • Giles's translation of the German article on the computer was accurate.

  • At the end of the episode, Amy is still a rat.

  • The spell that Giles cast to lift the veil off of Hansel and Gretel is as follows (a big thanks to RayneFire for the translation):
    Dämonen zeight euch. Ich
    beschwöre die Mächte der
    Hecate, Königin und
    Beschützerin der Hexen, die
    Masken wegzureissen. Das
    Böse soll das Gesicht des Bösen tragen...

    Hecate ruft euch an. Hebt
    den Schleier auf

    (Giles falters...hesitates, continues)

    Hebt den Schleier auf.
    Verbergt euch nicht hinter
    falschen Gesichtern.

    Demons show yourselves. I
    call on the powers of
    Hecate, queen and
    protectress of witches, to
    strip away the masks. Let
    evil wear an evil face...

    Hecate implores you. Lift
    the veil

    (Giles falters...hesitates, continues)

    Lift the veil.
    Hide not behind
    false faces.

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Comments

Jeremy:
This was a good episode, and I enjoyed the return of Amy Madison and the witch theme. I liked Xander getting his dues. When Buffy returned in "Anne," he alienated Buffy, and now he can feel what it's like. Oh yeah, and like WOW! Willow in full-blown witch get-up and rebelling against her mom! Watch out for the Willow group. I felt, however, that Joyce has become too strong of a character to fall so easily into the grasps of the demon. Would it take only a couple of dead children in your dreams to burn your daughter at the stake! Not that I exactly like Faith, but they should be focusing some more on her, Angel, and Cordelia, if we are to enjoy them so much to watch them on Angel next season. This was an overall good episode that developed the characters and the recurring plot quite well. (7/10)
Jamie Marie:
This is my first time putting my thoughts on Buffy into written words, so bear with me. I found this episode very entertaining. As usual, it was full of hilarious lines, not all of which ended up on this page. I was glad they acknowledged some of the Willow-Xander aftermath. I loved that they actually made me afraid that Willow was doing bad things with her witch friends (though as soon as I suspected that, during the commercial, I defended her in my mind: she didn't actually murder the kids; perhaps they forced her to help them with these "bad things"). I loved Willow's fight with her mom. I love the development of Willow as a witch (run with this one, Joss!). I like that they brought us much more into Willow's family situation (perhaps Sheila and Joyce could bond while agonizing about their daughters' activities). Now I want to know about Oz's and Xander's families. I guess the best thing about this episode was Willow, which is not unusual. The scene in which Giles and Joyce run into each other was good, too. Just enough to keep us wondering where they're going with that storyline (or at least when they're gonna go there with it). There were negatives, though. For one thing, where is Faith? Actually, I don't really like her, and I didn't want them to keep her around — now I'm wondering why they did. I would rather they write her out rather than just ignore her. She can always make a surprise return just in time for Angel. The other thing that bothered me was the idea of Joyce attempting to burn Buffy at the stake. I'm not sure about Willow's mom, but I cannot believe that Joyce would do that. Two dead kids tell Joyce to kill Buffy and she jumps right to it? In order for that to have worked for me, I think they should have given the demon strong mind-control powers, and had the spell do away with that as well. All in all, this episode ranks fairly high on my list, but it's not at the top. (7.5/10)
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Nielsens
Air Date Rating Ranking
January 12, 1999 4.2 91 of 129 (tie)
March 30, 1999 2.7 95 of 126 (tie)
August 17, 1999 2.0 105 of 134 (tie)

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