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BuffyGuide.com — The Complete Buffy Episode Guide
Superstar
April 04, 2000
4ABB17

 
Credits

Writer:
Jane Espenson


Director:
David Grossman


Regulars:
Sarah Michelle Gellar as Buffy Summers
Nicholas Brendon as Xander Harris
Alyson Hannigan as Willow Rosenberg
Marc Blucas as Riley Finn
James Marsters as Spike
Anthony Stewart Head as Rupert Giles
Guest Stars:
Danny Strong as Jonathan
Emma Caulfield as Anya
Amber Benson as Tara
Bailey Chase as Graham Miller
George Hertzberg as Adam
Robert Patrick Benedict as Adam's lackey
John Saint Ryan as Colonel George Haviland
Cast:
Erica Luttrell as Karen
Adam Clark as Cop
Chanie Costello as Inga
Julie Costello as Ilsa

 
Synopsis

A cool, suave Jonathan is the perfect guy — among other things, he's a movie star, a singer/musician, a basketball player, and a better fighter than Buffy, who takes orders from and looks up to him. However, Buffy starts to think that he's a little too perfect, and grows suspicious of his behavior regarding a new monster in town. She concludes that he's altered the world somehow to change how people perceive him; the gang's research proves it. It turns out that he did an augmentation spell, causing him to be perceived as everyone's ideal. However, the spell had to balance that perfection by creating an equally evil monster — the one terrorizing Sunnydale. Jonathan encourages Buffy to fight the monster, though he himself ends up killing it. The spell is broken, and Jonathan is back to being Jonathan. During this whole ordeal, Buffy has been pushing Riley away, resentful about his having slept with Faith (in Buffy's body). Jonathan's advice was to admit that she's blaming Riley and forgive him, and he also advised Riley to let Buffy know that she's the only one for him. He does, and Buffy is able to accept that and move on.

For the full, detailed synopsis, click here.

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Monstervision

The monster The alternate universe thing has been used in "The Wish" and "Doppelgängland," though not quite in this way. That universe was completely alternate, and wished into existence in the manner Anya described with her shrimp example. In this case, only Jonathan was altered — or rather, people's perceptions of him were altered — through use of magic. The spell also creates a big bad monster, which was actually rather generic — ugly, violent, identifying symbol... you know the deal.


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Body Count

Anonymous Vampire
Staked by Buffy in a cemetery.
Anonymous Vampire
Shot with an arrow by Buffy in the vampires' nest.
Two Anonymous Vampires
Shot with arrows by Jonathan in the vampires' nest.
Anonymous Vampire
Staked by Buffy in the vampires' nest.
Anonymous Vampire
Shot with an arrow by Jonathan in the vampires' nest.
Dead Librarian
Presumably killed by Adam at the library.
The Augmentation Monster
Pushed to his death by Jonathan in a cave somewhere.
Total: Eight
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Dialogue to Die For

Buffy: Anya, tell them about the alternate universes.
Anya: Oh, okay. Um... say you really like shrimp a lot. Or we could say you don't like shrimp at all. "Blah, I wish there weren't any shrimp," you'd say to yourself —
Buffy: Stop! You're saying it wrong.

Buffy: I think that Jonathan may be doing something so that he's manipulating the world, and we're all like his pawns.
Anya: Or prawns.
Buffy: Stop with the shrimp! I am trying to do something here!

More quotes from this episode...

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References

  • Jonathan: "Watch out for southpaws, Buff. Don't let them surprise you."
  • "Southpaw" refers to a left-handed person. It is said that the word was coined by Finley Peter Dunne (a.k.a. "Mr. Dooley") when he was a Chicago sports journalist and baseball diamonds were regularly oriented with home plate to the west (thereby making the left hand the south hand).

  • Jonathan (Regarding Giles' chess moves): "The Nimzowitsch defense..."
  • A chess opening, named after chess player Aron Nimzowitsch (1886-1935), who also wrote a few instructional books on the topic of chess.

  • Spike: "I wasn't exactly pining for a noisy visit from Wonder Jonathan and his fluffy battle-kittens."
  • A double reference — the first is presumably either to Wonder Man (Marvel), Wonder Woman (DC Comics), or perhaps just a generic superhero reference. The second is to He-Man's (Mattel) tiger companion, Battle Cat.

  • Anya: "I was just at the part where he invents the internet."
  • This is likely an Al Gore joke — the Vice President said in a 1999 interview: "During my service in the United States Congress, I took the initiative in creating the Internet." Though technology and the internet are among Gore's key issues, and he is a supporter of the internet (he did popularize the term "information superhighway"), no one would actually give him credit for having created the internet. Since this interview, it has become a running joke.

  • Anya (on the wishes she'd make against ex-boyfriends): "I'd wish he was... in love with President McKinley or something."
  • President McKinley (1843-1901) was the 25th president of the United States, from 1897-1901. The popular president was assassinated by anarchist Leon F. Czolgosz, who was quickly convicted and executed.


  • The MatrixBuffy: "He starred in The Matrix, but he never left town."
  • The hugely successful 1999 movie The Matrix, starred Keanu Reeves as Thomas A. Anderson (a.k.a. Neo), a computer hacker who is shown that reality is more than it seems. It is actually 200 years in the future and the world is overrun by artificially intelligent machines that farm humans to be used as batteries. They keep the humans sedate by immersing them in our perceived reality: "The Matrix." The movie was filmed in Australia, hence the problem with Jonathan having never left town.

  • Xander (on Jonathan): "... He coached the U.S. women's soccer team to a stunning World Cup victory."
  • The real coach for the 1999 Women's Soccer team was Tony DiCicco. The US won the World Cup against China in a final match that came down to penalty kicks after regulation and sudden-death overtime.

  • Xander: "He's like your Kryptonite."
  • Kryptonite is the term used to designate any surviving fragment of the exploded planet Krypton, home world of Superman. There are five varieties of Kryptonite, three of which are toxic to Superman, and one of which (green) is fatal — the only thing that can kill him. Kryptonite was also referenced in "Helpless."

  • The movie playing at the Sun Cinema is Being Jonathan Levinson.
  • A play on the movie Being John Malkovich, in which a puppeteer (John Cusack) discovers a door in his office that allows people to enter the mind and life of John Malkovich (John Malkovich) for 15 minutes, after which they get dumped out on the New Jersey Turnpike. Side notes: Carlos Jacott (Ken in "Anne") played Malkovich's agent in the film. Also, Willie Garson (the Security Guard in "Killed by Death") appeared in the film as "Guy in Restaurant."
          Willie Garson connection caught by Bruce.

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Continuity

  • The Initiative

    Spike is unable to bite people due to the implant he was given by the Initiative (the gang didn't find out about it until "Pangs").

  • Who Are You

    The whole Faith's insides in Buffy's outsides thing, as well as Riley having slept with Faith (in Buffy's body) took place in the last episode.

  • Goodbye Iowa

    Riley found out in "Goodbye Iowa" that the Initiative was feeding him drugs to increase his strength (and possibly with other benefits). Also in this episode, the gang was introduced to Adam, and it was revealed that all the demons in Sunnydale have it in for Spike (which Jonathan mentions).

  • The Prom

    Willow mentions that Buffy gave Jonathan the Class Protector award at their prom. Actually, Jonathan presented it to Buffy.

  • The Wish

    Reference is made to Anya's time as a Vengeance Demon, which ended in "The Wish."

  • When She Was Bad

    Xander says that Jonathan crushed the bones of the Master; Buffy actually did this in "When She Was Bad."

  • Graduation Day, Part Two

    Xander also says that Jonathan blew up the Mayor, which Buffy and Giles actually did (although the whole gang helped) in the season three finale.

  • Earshot

    Jonathan mentions "the thing with the bell tower and the gun," when he took a gun into the Sunnydale High School bell tower to kill himself (Buffy averted it, though she thought he was going to commit mass murder).

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Goofs and Gaffes

  • As they dance at the Bronze, Buffy puts her hand on Riley's shoulder. A few minutes later (after having moved apart for a moment), she does it again, which is fine — except that it looks suspiciously like the same shot.

  • The chess puzzle is actually an impossible position — pawns can never be on the first or eighth ranks — although there is indeed a mate in four beginning with Jonathan's knight move. Also, the Nimzowitsch Defense refers to a specific chess opening; the given position is more of a puzzle and has little relevance to any particular opening.
          Information from Cerecel.

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Notes

  • The opening credits were redone (temporarily) to include shots of Jonathan interspersed with those of the regulars. (You can find screen caps here.) One shot, of Jonathan disabling a bomb, could be considered a parody of the bomb scene in "The Zeppo."

  • Jonathan's last name is Levinson. Though the Sunnydale High Yearbook stated this, it's the first time it's been stated on the show.

  • Jonathan.com (as seen on a series of posters) does exist, but as of this writing, only consists of an email link.

  • The Jonathan comic books are made by Dark Horse comics, the same company that (in real life) makes the Buffy and Angel comics.

  • The Sunnydale Times has a website at www.sunnydaletimes.com (only in the Buffyverse, of course).

  • Brad Kane, the voice behind "Jonathan's" performance at the Bronze, played Tucker (the guy training the Hell Hounds) in "The Prom." He's also the singing voice of Aladdin in all of the Aladdin movies.

  • Jonathan items shown: Jonathan-Os cereal, basketball poster, a variety of other posters, I [Heart] Jonathan t-shirt, an autobiography (Oh, Jonathan), shoe advertisement, trading cards, comic books, swimsuit calendar. Referred to but not shown: At least one CD, two movies (Being Jonathan Levinson and The Matrix; see References).

  • At the very end of the episode, there is one extra line in the closed captioning that's not spoken: Buffy saying, "Just kidding," after murmuring Jonathan's name.

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Music

Note: To cut down on bandwidth theft, sound files are password protected. After you click "Listen," just enter the username bg and the password 8rt at the prompt. If the password doesn't work, that probably means it's been changed; refresh/reload this page to get the new one.

  • Royal Crown Revue - "Trapped" (From Walk on Fire, RCR Records with Side 1 / Dummy, 1999)
  • Royal Crown Revue (vocals by Brad Kane) - "Serenade in Blue"
      This is the song Jonathan performs at the Bronze. RCR performs, with vocals by Brad Kane; RCR has never released a recording of this song (written in 1942 by Harry Warren and Mack Gordon). It's been performed by many an artist, perhaps most famously by Glenn Miller. (See notes above for more info.)
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Comments

Jeremy:
I really liked this episode. Another confirmation that everyone that is lucky enough to be on Buffy actually deserves it. This seems to be especially true of Danny Strong. Hopefully this performance will land him some other roles. Some more wonderful music from Chris Beck, and a great job getting Royal Crown Revue to perform at the Bronze. I don't really know what else to say about this episode, except WOW! This is a relative wow, of course, since it was a filler episode, but entertaining nevertheless. (8.5/10)
Jamie Marie:
Hmm... a terrific concept, definitely. Another hilarious performance by Emma Caulfield, and an equally enjoyable performance by Danny Strong. Not bad overall, with some great aspects. And yet, I'm not getting the feeling that I'll have the urge to rewatch this one many a time. It wouldn't be torture, but I can think of quite a few I prefer more. Which is normal, because they can't all be 10s, but the thing is, I can't quite put my finger on where the problem is. I know the goofy monster grunting bugged me, but that's something I can get over. Perhaps the plot... not bad, and I'm not saying I could do better, but I think Joss could have, if he had written it himself. No offense to Jane Espenson, but I think this one should have been a Josser. Oh, and here's something — Jonathan was the most perfectly perfect guy, and the monster was supposed to balance that by being supremely evil, "everyone's nightmare." Shouldn't it have been bigger, badder, and harder to kill? More like Adam — less monster-of-the-week, less grunting, more dangerous. Then there's something else that bugs me more every time I think about it... it seems as though the events of "The Wish" and "Doppelgängland" never took place in this Jonathan-verse. No one seemed to remember it, including Willow and Anya, who should have been most likely to. Why? Just because it never involved Jonathan, it never even happened? But that doesn't make sense — why would Anya even be there, then? I very tempted to put this in the goofs, but a voice in my head tells me there's a logical reason that I'm overlooking. If you know of one, feel free to share it with me. Otherwise, it'll probably end up in the goofs. Like I said, though, Anya caused me much laughter, and it was great to see Jonathan as something other than the short dumpy kid. Of course, he was still short — the shot of him in commando gear, with a towering Riley at his side — I'm not insulting Danny, but it was darned funny. The opening credits were a riot as well, and the score music was a kick. It's these individual factors that bring my score up, and if there were even more... well, then the whole effect might be better. Without them, it wouldn't get more than a seven. (8/10)
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Nielsens
Air Date Rating Ranking
April 04, 2000 2.8 92 of 138 (tie)
July 4, 2000 1.3 108 of 137 (tie)

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