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BuffyGuide.com — The Complete Buffy Episode Guide
Helpless
January 19, 1999
3ABB12

 
Credits

Writer:
David Fury


Director:
James A. Contner


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:
Kristine Sutherland as Joyce Summers
Jeff Kober as Zackary Kralik
Harris Yulin as Quentin Travers
Cast:
Dominic Keating as Blair
David Haydn-Jones as Hobson
Nick Cornish as Guy
Don Dowe as Construction Worker

 
Synopsis

Buffy finds herself weak and powerless, and begins to worry. Giles, we find out, is drugging her to make her lose her powers. It turns out that the Watchers Council has a little test for Slayers on who turn 18 — they have to fight a vampire without their powers; if they survive, then they pass. The plan goes awry when the vampire gets loose and kidnaps Buffy's mom. Even without her powers, Buffy kicks some ass and saves her mom. As Buffy tries to deal with Giles' betrayal, he gets fired from the Council for his obvious fatherly love for Buffy (which the Council deems a bad thing).

For the full, detailed synopsis, click here.

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Monstervision

Kralik We have Zackary Kralik as a typical, although a little more crazy, Joss Whedon vampire. He was even a killer when he was a mortal, and became a vampire while he was in a hospital for the criminally insane. He is reminiscent of the Big Bad Wolf from Little Red Riding Hood, which seems to be the theme for this episode. He rips off Buffy's red hooded jacket in their struggle and hides in it to lure Joyce ("The Grandma"). See References for more details about this theme.


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Body Count

Anonymous vampire
Lands on Buffy's waiting stake in the park.
Human-Blair
Drained and vamped by Kralik at the Sunnydale Arms boardinghouse.
Hobson
Drained by Kralik and Vamp-Blair at the Sunnydale Arms boardinghouse.
Kralik
Tricked by Buffy into drinking Holy Water at the Sunnydale Arms boardinghouse.
Vamp-Blair
Staked by Giles at the Sunnydale Arms boardinghouse.
Total: Five (or four, depending on how you look at it)
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Dialogue to Die For

Buffy: "Actually I do have a date. Older man. Very handsome. Likes it when I call him Daddy."
Angel: "Your father... It is your father, right?"

Buffy: "OK. So how do you know if ones aura is dirty? Does somebody come by with a finger and write 'Wash Me' on it?"

Buffy: "Or what if I just become pathetic? Hanging out at the Old Slayer's Home, talking people's ears off about my glory days, showing them Mr. Pointy, the stake I had bronzed."

More quotes from this episode...

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Dialogue to Bury

Oz: "Ice is cool. It's water, but it's not."

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References

  • Giles states that Amethyst is used for charm bags, money spells, and to cleanse cleanse ones aura. From our research we found it is used to cleanse auras, but many different crystals are used in charm bags. As far as money spells go, amethyst does not seem to be a factor. However, meditation, calming, and spirituality are often mentioned in connection with amethysts.

  • "It's in Cuernavaca." Cuernavaca is some 53 miles south of Mexico City. It's mild climate attracts the wealthy and fashionable from the capital.

  • "Snoopy on Ice" is an ice show in which people skate and dance around in huge "Peanuts" character costumes. Snoopy is the dog in "Peanuts," and Woodstock is the little yellow bird often seen hanging around with Snoopy. "Peanuts" and its characters were created by Charles Schulz.

  • Brian Boitano"Brian Boitano, doing Carmen, is a life changer." Brian Boitano is a 1988 Olympic gold medalist, and one of the world's most celebrated figure skaters. He has won more than 60 other titles, including 23 international gold medals, two World titles, two Pro/Am titles, 17 professional titles and four U.S. National titles.

  • Carmen was originally a novel by Prosper Mérimée written in 1845. The story of a tragic romance between a Romani (Gypsy woman) and a Spanish military officer served as the basis for the 1875 opera of the same name by French composer Georges Bizet.

  • "Yes, I think we should start with the grounding crystal again." Giles is probably referring to crystals that are used for grounding psychic energy and providing security for opening up the psychic centers.

  • "Maybe what we should be looking for is something like um... Slayer Kryptonite." The term used to designate any surviving fragment of the exploded planet Krypton, home world of Superman. There are five distinct varieties of Kryptonite (green, red, gold, blue, and white), the first three of which are toxic to Superman. Green kills, red mutates, and gold drains powers, therefore Oz was right and Xander was wrong. (Blue and white have no effect on Superman, only Bizarro creatures and plant life, respectively.)

  • Angel gave Buffy "Sonnets from the Portuguese" by Elizabeth Barrett Browning for her birthday. It was originally published in 1850 in a two volume publication entitled Poems. It contains the famous poem "How do I love thee? Let me count the ways." This poem is referred to in "The Witch" and reprinted in that episode's references.

  • "Cruciamentum is not easy for Slayer or Watcher." Cruciamentum is a Latin word meaning torture or torment.

  • There is a fairly overt connection to the story of "Little Red Riding Hood." As stated in Monstervision, Kralik hides in Buffy's hooded red jacket, and he also has lines which are reminiscent of the story ("Why did you come to the dark of the woods? To bring all these sweets to grandmother's house?" "If you stray from the path, you will lose your way."). Of course, this plot does not directly parallel the fairy tale, there are just overtones. "Little Red Riding Hood" is at least as old as the very early 19th century; it has been told and written in many different languages with many different versions — authors include the Brothers Grimm and Charles Perrault.
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Goofs and Gaffes

  • Buffy states that she and her dad go to the ice show every year for her birthday. They didn't go last year, or even mention the tradition, during "Surprise."

  • Buffy seemed to have too easy of a time pushing down the bookcase onto Blair, since she struggled just picking up her Big Bag O' Weapons.

  • Buffy would have had to switch Kralik's water with holy water very quickly; it didn't seem like she had enough time. (These last two "goofs" aren't quite goofs, but they are questionable.)

  • Buffy seems to be wearing the same shirt twice: in the opening scene, and at the end of the episode when she is trapped at Sunnydale Arms. Even if this is not the same shirt, they are way too similar for a girl like Buffy to wear them both within the same week.
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Notes

  • Kralik photographs himself with Joyce, proving that the Buffyverse doesn't use the old "vampires can't be photographed" thing. Which makes sense, as modern mirrors don't generally use mirrors to take the picture anyway. (For further detail on this topic, see this thread in the Buffyverse FAQ.)

  • Faith is noted in this episode, but does not appear. She is on one of her "unannounced walkabouts."

  • Willow threw up on Woodstock as a child, backstage at "Snoopy on Ice."

  • Again we see that Buffy enjoys ice skating, as does Sarah Michelle Gellar (see "What's My Line, Part One").

  • Buffy says that parties in her honor tend to go badly ("monsters crash, people die"), referring to her surprise party in "Surprise" and her welcome-home party in "Dead Man's Party".

  • There is an old vacant boardinghouse in Sunnydale, the Sunnydale Arms. This is where Buffy's "test" took place.

  • Amy is mentioned — she is still a rat (see "Gingerbread") and Willow is keeping her. She has gotten her a wheel and "the cutest little bell."

  • Angel references "Surprise" when he says "Then why'd you seem more excited last year when you got a severed arm in a box?"

  • Buffy refers to Mr. Pointy (see Dialogue) the stake that Kendra gave her in "Becoming, Part One." Her line about the Old Slayer's Home brings up the point, what happens if a Slayer does reach old age? Grandma Buffy kicking some vampire butt?

  • Angel reveals to Buffy that he had seen her before they met in "Welcome to the Hellmouth." That moment was shown as a flashback in "Becoming, Part One."

  • We know that there must have been Slayers for at least 1200 years, as Quentin tells Giles, "It's been done this way for the past dozen centuries."
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Comments

Jeremy:
The trailers for this episode got me quite interested, but it disappointed me a little bit. Don't get me wrong it wasn't a terrible episode, but I think it could have been better. Two episode with ties to fairy tales in a row is a bit much. It seems to be almost time for a nice suspenseful two-parter, don't you think? But I digress. Sarah Michelle Gel's chase scene looked a lot like her role in I Know What You Did Last Summer. It looks like Buffy and Angel may be getting back together soon, which I'm sure is going to please a lot of you fans out there. I just know Joss must have something else up his sleeve, since as we all know Angel will be moving to LA in his spin-off series next year. The sexual tension in this episode was played out very well; nice and subtle, nothing like the dream sex scene in "Amends." (Which don't get me wrong, was even better than the first time.) Again, I digress. I also can't wait to see what Buffy's new watcher will be like, and am getting more and more intrigued with the Council of Watcher's role in the world. To sum up, I was a bit disappointed in this episode and so I give it a (7/10)
Jamie Marie:
We end up watching each episode about three times in the course of putting up the guide, and each time I liked it more. It is my favorite so far this season — or at least one of them. It seems logical that there would be some sort of slayer rite of passage. And it shows us how Buffy has changed — there was a time when she probably would have been excited to have lost her powers and been eager to give up her Slayer title. Also, I liked the subtle sexuality that they worked in there — the first scene with Buffy and Angel, Buffy's subsequent "energy" when studying the crystals (playing with the long one), etc. I'm sure they are building up to something, but we know B & A can't have sex... so what is it? I only had one problem with this episode, and that is that it was too short (not their fault, of course). The premise of the episode sounded really promising…Buffy without her powers! Gasp! And it was going along all right; I was liking it, until I realized that it was over (the "test"). It seemed like she took care of that vampire much too quickly. That can simply be attributed to the fact that they only have an hour to work with, and I wouldn't really have wanted it to be a two-parter (An hour and a half would have been perfect). So I guess I'll just have to get over it. But now we come to the Big Bad News — what are they doing firing Giles?! Yeah, I know, since this is a TV show, I'm sure it will somehow be fixed. But the preview for "The Zeppo" didn't even mention it! Nor do the descriptions I have read thus far! And after that is a rerun! Next week should be ALL about getting Giles reinstated. Let's start a "Reinstate Giles" campaign…will you sign my petition? (9/10)
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Nielsens
Air Date Rating Ranking
January 19, 1999 4.6 85 of 125 (tie)
April 13, 1999 2.4 106 of 129
August 24, 1999 2.1 101 of 136 (tie)

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