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BuffyGuide.com — The Complete Buffy Episode Guide
Gingerbread
Synopsis



Buffy is on patrol in the park when her mother shows up with a snack, hoping to bond with Buffy while watching her slay. They are interrupted by a vampire, whom Buffy fights as Joyce cheers her on. Joyce realizes the vampire is "Mr. Sanderson from the bank." The vamp runs away and Buffy chases him, telling her mom to stay. While Buffy is chasing and fighting Mr. Sanderson, Joyce wanders over to the playground to wait. She finds a child's toy truck on the ground, then gasps: there on the merry-go-round are the dead bodies of two small children, a boy and a girl. A strange symbol is drawn on their right hands.

The police are now on the scene taking pictures of the bodies as Joyce looks on and Buffy talks to a cop. Buffy then tells her mother that they can go home now, but Joyce is too distraught. Buffy tries to calm her, promising to find whatever did this, but Joyce says that she can't make it right.

The next day in the library, Buffy tells Giles that there weren't marks from a vampire, but there were marks on their hands. She draws the symbol that she saw, asking Giles to point her at the thing that uses it, but Giles thinks that a symbol like this is likely the sign of a ritualistic murder. Buffy is shocked that human beings could have done this. She asks him to find a loophole in the "Slayers don't kill people" rule.

At lunch time, Oz and Xander find themselves next to each other in the cafeteria line, and attempt some uncomfortable small talk about burritos. They go over to a table, where Willow and Amy join them. Oz comments that he hasn't seen Willow all day, and Xander hastily insists that she has not been with him. Silence follows. Oz brings up Buffy's birthday, which is next week, but Willow silences them when Buffy approaches. Buffy tells the gang about the two murdered children that she and her mother found last night. Her friends are surprised that Joyce was with Buffy, especially Willow, who is impressed that her mother is so interested in Buffy's life. Buffy is just saying how "wiggy" her mom is, when she comes up behind her, asking if Buffy has gotten any news from Giles. Buffy tells her that he thinks it may be a cult, and Joyce assumes that he means witches. Willow coughs and Amy squirms; Joyce says she knows that Willow dabbles in witchcraft. After Buffy walks off with her mom, Willow says she's lucky her own mom isn't interested in her extracurricular activities...or her curricular ones. Joyce tells Buffy that she has already called everyone she knows and has organized a vigil, and that the mayor will even be there (ironically, Joyce thinks that he is going to take some action). Buffy tells her that they usually try to limit the number of people who know about these things.

That night at City Hall, a lot of people have gathered, carrying posters of the children which say "Never Again." Willow is surprised to see her mother (Sheila) there, who came because she read about it in the paper. Sheila is surprised that Willow has cut her hair (which was five months ago). Giles approaches them, and he and Joyce are obviously uncomfortable and nervous. Sheila tells Giles there is a rumor going around that the murder was the work of witches, and he says that is strange. The mayor steps up to the microphone, and gives a brief speech about what a good town Sunnydale is, and pledges "never again." Joyce steps up and says that the mayor is wrong, Sunnydale is not a good town. She points out how many strange things go on there, says silence is their problem, and that the town belongs to the monsters, the witches, and the slayers (alarming Giles, Willow, and Buffy). She calls for the grown-ups to take some action. Later that night, we see three witches gathered with some potions, a skull, candles, etc. There is a boy, Amy, and Willow! The camera pulls back and reveals them gathered around the symbol that was on the children's hands.

The next day, a bully is picking on the boy we saw in the previous scene, and Amy, accusing them of being into "voodoo witchcraft." Buffy appears, giving him a look, and he backs off and leaves. Cordelia tells Buffy to expect badness if she is going to hang out with Michael (the boy witch) and Amy. Giles then tells Buffy that his research indicates it indeed may have been witches, but he needs a book that Willow borrowed, and asks Buffy to get it. Buffy finds Xander and asks if he knows where Willow is. Xander is very defensive and complains that they, especially Oz, don't trust him and think he will mess up again. Buffy says that Xander is guilty and has to pay the price. Looking at Willow's books, Buffy finds Giles' book, and underneath it is a notebook with a drawing of the symbol. Willow approaches and Buffy asks her about it, but just then a locker search ensues. Police are searching all lockers for evidence of witchcraft; Snyder is happy not to have to consider the students rights; Xander is concerned about the "Playboy"'s in his locker; Cordelia is worried about her $45 hairspray. A man takes Amy away and Willow tells Buffy she has witch paraphernalia in her locker, but that she is innocent — the symbol was for a protection spell that Willow, Amy, and Michael were preparing for Buffy's birthday. Snyder takes Willow to his office as Buffy grabs the book and the notebook.

In the library, security officers are confiscating a lot of Giles' books. Buffy comes to tell Giles what she learned about the symbol, but they cannot widen their research because they are taking so many of the books. Snyder comes in and tells Giles that he will have to answer to MOO (Mothers Opposed to the Occult), which was founded by Buffy's mom.

Willow comes home to find her mom looking through the stuff from her locker. Sheila claims to understand Willow's need to identify with something, but is patronizing, and Willow tells her that she really can do spells. Sheila feels this is a cry for discipline and grounds Willow, who responds by saying that she is a rebel and a witch, and that she is dating a musician. Sheila forbids Willow from seeing "Bunny" Summers again.

At Buffy's house, Joyce forbids Buffy from seeing Willow, and defends the locker search and book confiscation. Buffy says it's her job to take care of these things, but Joyce implies that Buffy is not doing a good job, because Sunnydale isn't running out of vampires. Buffy leaves, and the two "dead" children are in the room, and tell Joyce that they cannot sleep until she hurts "them" the way they were hurt.

Buffy goes to the memorial at the park when Angel comes up and gives her a hug. Buffy tells him that her mom said being the Slayer was fruitless, but Angel disagrees. He says that she taught him that it's important to keep fighting. He mentions the children's parents, which gains Buffy's interest.

Giles is in the library on the Internet, since his books are gone, but he is having a hell of a time. Buffy comes in and points out that no one knows who the parents of the children are, or even their names. Oz links to Willow on her computer (she is shut up in her room) and they research it. Instead of finding their names, they find numerous articles about the exact same situation, with photos of the SAME children, each exactly fifty years apart. The oldest article is from 1649, about Hans and Greta. Sheila enters and takes away Willow's computer; she tells Willow that she believes her now, and all she can do is let Willow go with love; she exits and locks the door. Giles tells the gang that some folklorists believe that fairy tales are based in reality, and he also states that some demons thrive on watching humans destroy each other. Michael runs in bloody — his father attacked him. Xander and Oz leave to find Willow, and Giles and Buffy go to Buffy's house to tell her mom about their recent research developments.

Willow's mom and a group of people come to her room saying it's time to go. Buffy and Giles arrive to tell Joyce what's going on, but Joyce knocks Buffy out with what appears to be chloroform, and two men attack Giles. Xander and Oz find Willow's room empty with signs of a struggle. At City Hall, Willow, Amy, and Buffy are tied to stakes with piles of books surrounding them. Sheila says there's no cure but the fire. Buffy is still unconscious. At Buffy's house, Cordelia slaps Giles a few times to wake him from his unconsciousness. Back at City Hall, Buffy comes to just before her mother lights the fire. As the fire gets closer to the girls, Amy casts a spell and turns herself into a rat, escaping. Willow threatens to show them her "power," and the crowd considers leaving, but the children are there to remind them that they have to kill the bad girls. Giles and Cordelia are in Giles' car, as Giles directs Cordelia on how to prepare a mixture to make the demon show its true form. Xander and Oz arrive at City Hall and hear Willow's cries, and, thinking Willow is above them, start climbing through the ventilation system. Buffy pleads with her mother, but Joyce says that she has to punish Buffy. Giles and Cordelia arrive at City Hall and pick the lock to the room they are in. Cordelia uses the fire hose to put out the fire while Giles chants a spell, and throws the mixture at the children. The children then turn into one big ugly demon. Buffy manages to lean over and break the stake so that the demon runs into it. Just then, Xander and Oz fall through the ceiling, and Oz declares that they are there to save them.

Buffy and Willow are in Willow's room. Willow's mom is having the "selective memory" that Joyce used to have, but does remember about Willow dating a musician; Oz has to come for dinner next week. The two girls are trying to perform a spell to turn Amy back to human form, but it does not work.

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