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BuffyGuide.com — The Complete Buffy Episode Guide
Selfless
Synopsis



At the Summers' house, Dawn is giving Willow advice on how to act at university: do what everyone else does. Willow reminds Dawn that she's been to college before. Buffy and Xander come in; Buffy carrying a lamp, Xander a box, as they talk about Anya. Xander is worried about Anya, and thinks he should call her; he thinks she seems sad. Buffy says she is worried about him, and doesn't want him to get his hopes up — Xander replies that there are no hopes, he and Anya are done. He claims to be happy being a strong, successful male with many future dating prospects. Buffy teases him a little, and Dawn suggests that Anya's sadness could be combated with a spot of acting just like everyone else. Buffy says she doesn't get the sad vibe, but does get a vengeance vibe. Xander hastily defends Anya, and assures Buffy that Anya isn't really into that anymore. He reminds Buffy that Anya reversed the spell she cast turning Ronnie into the Sluggoth demon. He says it will just take some time from her to recover from being dumped at the altar, but he really thinks she is coming round.

Somewhere in a dark room many boys lie dead in pools of blood, with gaping holes in their chests. Anya is sitting against a wall, with a lot of blood on her. She asks, "What have I done?"

Sjornjost, 880 (this scene is faded and grainy like an old movie). A peasant-girl-looking Anya is strolling around the inside of a cottage, holding a rabbit, which she affectionately coos over. A meal is prepared at a long table in the middle of the room. She puts the rabbit down, as Olaf bangs the front door open. He calls her "Sweet, beautiful Aud" (in Swedish, with English subtitles, as is the rest of this scene); he says he is so hungry, he could eat a small child. "Aud" asks if he is injured, as he smells of blood and musk. He claims he fought a band of minor trolls, but Aud looks distinctly suspicious of this story. Nevertheless she tells him to sit down and let her tend to him. He says he's fine, but asks for some mead. He notices that there are substantially more rabbits in the house today. She mentions that they breed very quickly, but before she can get another word in, Olaf tells her that "All this talk of breeding" makes him want to breed. Aud tells him to drink his mead first. She tells him that the rapid reproductive rate of their rabbits has given her an idea: they could give them out to their fellow villagers, not for goods or services, but for the sense of goodwill that comes from charity. Olaf laughs at her, and tells her this is insane logic, like that of a troll, and no wonder the bar matrons talk of her. Aud cuts him off, coldly noting that he went to the bar. Olaf wearily sighs, and says it's not his fault the bar matrons don't like her, as she speaks her mind and is annoying; it's one of the things he loves most about her. She asks if Rannveig was there, which earns an even greater and more frustrated, sigh from Olaf. He tells her that he's said a thousand times that he has no interest in Rannveig — Rannveig's hips are wide and load-bearing, while Aud's are narrow. He successfully sweet-talks his way back into Aud's good graces, and she apologizes, and says that it's simply that she loves him so much that she couldn't bear to be without him.

Back in the present, in a bathroom, Anya tries desperately to wash blood off her hands and arms, while looking at her own reflection. She doesn't seem to like what she sees.

Spike, crouched in a room in the basement, is telling Buffy, clad in a white shirt, about how he keeps seeing hallucinations. He reminisces about how Drusilla used to hallucinate, seeing the sky while she was indoors, and so on, and how this used to make him think she'd gone completely insane. Spike tells Buffy that he's in trouble, and she sympathetically tells him that she can help him. He says he could never ask for her help — not after what he did. Buffy tenderly says that it's different, he's different. She says they'll get through it. She begins to stroke his hair as she says this. The camera pans up to the entrance of the room as Buffy, clad in black, walks in. She walks over to Spike, who is stroking his own hair — there's no sign of white-clad Buffy. Buffy tells Spike in a straightforward, somewhat harsh tone that this basement is killing him; there's something, possibly everything, bad down here. Spike looks up at her, obviously confused and startled to see her there. He begins to laugh, slightly maniacally, and claims not to hear her. Buffy tells him to prove that he has a soul, and orders him get up and get out of the basement. He tells her that he has nowhere else to go.

Willow is walking on the UC Sunnydale campus, trying to convince a professor to accept her back in her class. The professor is glad to take her back — Willow was her best student. She mentions that Willow's grades dropped off at midterms last year, but then she aced her finals, like magic! Willow nervously (and guiltily) begins to tell the professor that it was similar to magic, but... The professor interrupts, and tells Willow to come see her tomorrow and they'll arrange to get her caught up. Willow thanks her somewhat distractedly, as she has just noticed Anya coming out of a nearby frat house. She calls Anya over. Anya is tightly wrapped in a large coat, almost entirely concealing herself. Willow begins to tell Anya about her experiences going back to school, but Anya is very restless, and keeps looking back at the frat house. Willow breaks off and asks her what she's doing there. Anya claims that she has a new boyfriend, and they just had lots and lots of sex. Willow thinks this is great (although the sex part is obviously too much information), and says she's happy for Anya. But when Anya reaches up to adjust her hair, Willow notices some blood on her hand, and Willow trails off. Anya makes a vague excuse and leaves, and Willow goes into the frat house to investigate.

Willow goes into the house, and calls out asking if anyone is there — then she notices a large smear of blood on the floor, and more on the furniture around the room. Most of the blood leads to an entrance to another room, with the closed double doors liberally splattered with blood. Willow goes into the room and finds the corpses of the boys. As she looks around in shock, she hears whimpering from the main room behind her, and she goes back in there to a closet where the noise is coming from. When she opens the closet door, she finds a girl huddled on the floor, with blood on her, repeating over and over again, "I take it back." Willow crouches in front her and asks what happened. The girl relates how she was tricked into coming there by her boyfriend, who told her it was going to be a big party. In fact it was a trick: he brought her there only so he could break up with her in front of his fraternity brothers, and they had a good laugh at her expense. She tells Willow that she said, just once, "I wish you could all feel what it's like to have your hearts ripped out." Realization hits Willow, as she asks what did this. The girl tells her a spider — which happens to still be there, crawling up the wall behind Willow.

The spider, a huge demon spider, leaps down on top of Willow — she barely manages to get a magical barricade up in time to stop it. As the girl whimpers, Willow, now all black-eyed, turns around and shouts at her to shut her whimpering mouth. The spider, still on the barricade, attempts to bite through it to Willow, but it can't, and Willow uses magic to throw it out of a window. Normal again and ashamed, she turns to the girl and apologizes.

Back in Sjornjost, the villagers are running in fear from the biggest troll they've ever seen — Olaf. When Olaf tells them that it is he, Olaf, they retort that the troll is doing an Olaf impression. One villager suggest they should hit him with fruits and various meats, which they promptly do. Olaf runs, with the villagers in pursuit. Aud, standing off to the side, watches this, and the picture changes from faded and grainy to its normal technicolor goodness. D'Hoffryn comes to Aud's side. He says (this is now all in English) that the spell was impressive, and asks her about it, then asks her what Olaf did. She replies, "a load-bearing bar matron." He commiserates with her, but Aud moves to go. D'Hoffryn introduces himself, as does Aud, but he tells her that she is really "Anyanka." He tells Aud that he is the patron of a family of sorts, of vengeance demons; he notes that she must have heard of them. Aud replies that she hasn't. D'Hoffryn seems slightly crestfallen, but Aud tells him not to feel bad. She doesn't talk to people much, and when she does they tell her that her questions and literal interpretations are irksome, and she should go to the other side of the river. Meanwhile, Olaf is now chasing the villagers, telling the men that they are tiny and toy-like. D'Hoffryn tells Aud that he can tell her talents are not appreciated here, and she should join him. She asks what she would have to do; D'Hoffryn tells her she would do what she does best — help wronged women punish evil men. Aud is clearly interested. D'Hoffryn tells her they would only punish men who deserve it, to which Aud replies that they all do. D'Hoffryn says yes, that's where he was going with that.

Buffy is sitting at her desk at Sunnydale High, balancing a cup of pencils on her head. It's clearly a very slow day. The phone rings, causing Buffy to drop the pencils. It's Willow, who tells Buffy about the spider demon. Buffy says she'll get Xander to go check it out, and looks disturbed when Willow tells her about the hearts being ripped out — but quickly changes tack, unfazed, to ask Willow if she got the physics class she wanted.

Halfrek and Anya are in Anya's apartment. Halfrek is extremely pleased with the slaughter caused by Anya and the Crimslaw demon — the order all think that the old Anyanka is back. There's even talk of holding some kind of a ceremony. Halfrek notices that something's wrong with Anya — Anya tells her she didn't realize it would hit her this hard. Halfrek tells her it's just a reflex reaction, and she'll be over it in no time. Anya tells Halfrek how glad she is that she's there to help her. Willow walks in, and tells Halfrek to get out, as Anya stands up. At first Halfrek refuses, but is stopped cold when Willow repeats the command forcefully. She looks to Anya, who tells her it's okay to go. Halfrek, striking a dramatic pose, teleports away. Willow tells Anya that she has to stop this. Anya tries to justify her actions, telling Willow that they were humiliating the girl for fun, but Willow says Anya knows she's in trouble, and Willow is here to help her. Anya asks Willow if she's flayed anyone lately, noting how quickly they forget. Willow says she hasn't forgotten anything, but she wants to help Anya. Anya, increasingly upset, shouts that they got what they deserved, but Willow disagrees. Even Anya doesn't really seem to believe it, as she repeats that they deserved it.

Buffy and Xander (Xander with a sword, Buffy an axe) walk through the woods, as Buffy thanks Xander for "side-kicking," as Willow has enough to deal with. Xander's not bothered — they're doing vent work at the site and anything is better than breathing freon for eight hours. He asks Buffy about the demon, but Buffy can't tell him much as Willow had to go; they presume to do something with school (actually it was probably to go see Anya). The chatter stops when they encounter a heartless corpse of a man lying on the ground. Buffy notes the obvious, that the demon they're looking for must have done this; Xander says that or a copycat spider demon. They notice some black webbing on a nearby tree; and then hear movement up above them, in the trees. Some webbing shoots down to stick to Xander, but Buffy quickly pushes him over, freeing him, as the Crimslaw demon lunges onto her, pushing her to the ground. Buffy struggles, finally managing to throw it off of her, and it lunges back up into the trees. They both get up, and Xander suggests coming back with more weapons and some kind of spider demon protection amulet. Buffy, barely listening to him, studies the tree tops, before hurling the axe up at them. With a shriek the impaled demon falls to the ground, dead.

Buffy and Xander come back to her house. Buffy discusses the spider demon and suggest they do some research to find out where it came from, but she stops when they walk into the front room and find Willow sitting there with a very serious expression. Willow tells her that she knows where it came from.

Buffy asks Willow how many there were; Willow says ten or twelve. Xander demands to know when Willow was planning on telling them. Willow says she's telling them now. Xander is not impressed, but Buffy intervenes and tells Xander that Willow didn't mention it before because she knew what Buffy would have to do. Buffy tells Xander that she has to kill Anya.

St. Petersburg, 1905. Halfrek and Anyanka are sitting at a long banquet table, which is laden with the remains of a sumptuous feast. Richly dressed dead bodies lie in various positions all around them. Through the window we can see explosions and fire outside. Halfrek tells Anyanka how impressed with her she is. Anyanka doesn't want to take credit — she merely grants wishes, it's all in the wisher. Halfrek observes that this probably wasn't what the wisher had in mind. Anyanka says perhaps not in her mind, but it was in her heart. She says Russia was ready to explode, they just gave it a little push. Halfrek asks what they will do with the rest of the evening — she suggests going to watch the razing of the Winter Mansion. Anyanka wants to go to a brothel, as there's no better place for vengeance. Halfrek notes that Anyanka is always about work, and suggest she look around more, such as at the revolution she is partially responsible for. Anyanka isn't interested (although she does mention that a Communist revolution will lead to "socio-economic paradise on earth"); she doesn't think there's anything else but work. Vengeance is what she does, what she is, and she doesn't need anything else.

Buffy tells Xander that Anya is not the person he knew, she's a demon now. Xander forcefully begins to argue that there are other options to killing Anya, but Buffy tells him that she's considered them before; the thought that it might come to this has occurred to her before now, and she says it has occurred to Xander too. Xander still wants another option. He notes that since these were mystical deaths, they can undo them, but Willow tells him she doesn't have that kind of power and never has, and she doesn't even trust the power she does have. Buffy tries to comfort Xander, but he doesn't want to be comforted. He tells her that this isn't new ground, and when their friends go evil, they help them. Willow indignantly tells him that she's sitting right there, and he apologizes, but doesn't let the point go. Buffy tells him it's different; he retorts only because Buffy doesn't care about Anya the same way he does — he still loves her. Buffy says she knows, and this is what's clouding Xander's judgement. Willow was different, she was human, but Anya's a demon. Xander bitterly notes that Buffy is the Slayer, so he sees how it's so simple. Buffy says it's never simple; Xander says not if it's a mass-murdering demon Buffy is boning — then it's all gray area. Buffy, getting angry now, tells him that Spike was harmless, and helping. Xander says he had no choice, and Buffy points out that Anya did. She chose to be a demon, twice. Xander starts to criticize Buffy for cutting them off, and acting like she's the law, but Buffy cuts him off, reminding him of how she killed Angel. She says she would have given all that she had to be with him, that she loved him more than she will ever love anything, yet she killed him because she had to. She asks if the two of them remember cheering her on (accidentally exposing Xander's lie in "Becoming Part 2," hiding the fact that Willow was going to try to do the spell restoring Angel's soul again). Willow perks up at this, but Xander interrupts to say that this is different. Buffy replies that it is always different; someone has to draw the line, and that is always going to be her. She says that in the end, the Slayer is always cut off. Xander, now more subdued, says that there has to be another way. Buffy tells him to please find it, and he hastily leaves the house. Buffy goes to her weapons chest, takes out a sword, and starts to leave. She stops to look at Willow, but Willow simply says that she can't, and Buffy leaves without a word.

Willow goes up to her room, and hunts through a couple of drawers of junk until she finds a certain talisman. In the bathroom, she pours of circle of magic sand, while doing an incantation, to summon D'Hoffryn. With a flash of light and some lightning, D'Hoffryn appears, facing away from her. With his arms outstretched, he slowly turns, announcing his presence in a booming voice and very grand style, until he catches sight of Willow, upon which he immediately stops short and starts speaking in his normal manner. He's pleased to see her; he figured he see her again, after the flaying of Warren Meers (which he and his whole team were very impressed by). Willow says that isn't her anymore, but D'Hoffryn notes that he felt her presence again earlier today, a bit of the old Willow. Willow ignores the subject and says they have to talk about Anya. With a tremendous sigh, D'Hoffryn grudgingly agrees to talk about "Anyanka."

Anya is at the frat house again, tracing the blood on the wall. Xander comes in; he thought she would be there. He asks if she's forced herself to look at the bodies yet. Anya isn't pleased to see him, even thought Xander says he's there to help. She mocks him, and he apologizes for everything that he's done to her — which only earns more mocking. Xander tells her that she doesn't understand — Buffy is coming here to kill her. Anya doesn't seem surprised, and merely says that Buffy is coming to try. Xander doesn't understand how everyone can talk like this. Anya says that she has a job to do, and so does Buffy; she says Buffy knew that in the end it would come to this. As she says that, Buffy enters, carrying the sword. Xander tells Buffy to get out. She tells him to get out of her way. He says no, but Anya tells him to get out of the way too, and when he looks at her, she's in demon face, and beats him aside. She and Buffy fight, as Anya mocks her, noting that she has a habit of trying to kill her friends. Anya is obviously much stronger, and perhaps quicker, and it looks like she's easily winning. But after a particularly brutal knock down, Buffy manages to get her off guard, and impale her through the chest to the wall.

Sunnydale, 2001, Xander's apartment. Xander, lying on a chaise lounge, mumbles in his sleep, while Anya, lying on the bed, reads. She tries to talk to him, asking if the thing earlier with the singing and the coconuts was weird. He just about manages to answer her, very mumbly, saying it wasn't weird. Anya hears a song beginning outside, something about a man getting mustard on his favorite shirt. She shuts the balcony door, cutting off the song. As she turns round to see Xander lying on the chair, she smiles, and starts to sing. She sings about becoming Xander's wife; she sings about how she's had no path, and all these years with nothing to show; she's not even sure who she is. But now she'll be Mrs. Xander Harris. Eventually at the end of the song she heads out into the balcony in a wedding dress, reaching a crescendo, but half-way through the final chorus, we cut back to...

Anya impaled on the wall, perfectly still, as Xander comes to, calling to her. Suddenly she sucks in a deep breath, regaining consciousness, and says she'd forgotten how much swords through the chest hurt. With a shriek she pulls it out, and berates Buffy, telling her she knows it takes more than that to kill a vengeance demon. Buffy retorts that she's just getting started, but Anya has her sword now, and starts to attack Buffy with it. Buffy manages to get it back, and floors Anya. When she prepares to stab Anya again, Anya simply lies there, looking up at her. But at the last second Xander barrels into Buffy, knocking her over. Anya shouts at him to stop trying to save her. Suddenly the room explodes in light and lightning, knocking all three over, as D'Hoffryn makes his entrance. He tells them carry on and ignore him, as he goes over to look at the boys. He's very impressed. When Buffy gets up and picks up her sword, he tells her he'd be gone before she could swing. He helps a reluctant Anya up, noting that Slayers always have the same solution to problems — sticking things with sharp objects. He tells Anya he spoke to Willow, and says he has high hopes for her. Xander breaks in to tell D'Hoffryn to stay away from Willow. D'Hoffryn approves of Xander's gallantry, but then ignores him to discuss how Willow said she thinks Anya would be better outside the vengeance fold. He says that Xander sees with the eyes of love, and Buffy just wants to hack away, but no one has asked Anya what she wants. Anya tells him she wants to take it back. D'Hoffryn barely seems able to believe his ears. He tells her it is possible, but not easy, and that the fates require the scales to be balanced. They require the sacrifice of the life and soul of a vengeance demon. Anya tells him to do it, but Xander breaks in, desperately saying that there must be some kind of alternate price. Anya tells him that he can't help her, and she's not even sure there's a her to help. She tells D'Hoffryn that she's sure, and he agrees to do it. He claps his hands, and with a flash, Halfrek materializes in the room. She only has time to say Anya's name before, with a scream, she is consumed almost instantly in fire. Anya, crying, is horrified, as D'Hoffryn snarls her, asking who she thought she was dealing with. He reminds her that pain is always a better punishment than death. Anya asks why he destroyed one of his own; he says there will always be plenty of potential vengeance demons for him to recruit. He says Anya is out, her wish is granted. When she says he should have killed her, he laughs, telling her not to worry about that — "From beneath you, it devours." He tells her to be patient. With a wave of his hand, he teleports away. Anya turns to look at Xander and Buffy, before trudging out. Buffy tells Xander to go after her, while she checks on the boys.

Xander calls for her to wait, and tells her that she shouldn't be alone in this. Anya says she should be alone, that her whole life, she's just clung to whatever came along. Xander says he didn't mind. Anya thanks him, for everything. Xander, heeding her wishes, starts to walk off. Anya stops him to ask him, "What if [she's] really nobody?" Xander tells her not to be a dope. She asks if she's a dope; he says sometimes. She says that's a start. Xander slowly turns, and walks away. Anya walks to the end of the path they were on, then turns and looks after Xander, who has turned to the left. After a moment, she turns and walks off to the right.

Synopsis written by Elliot.

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