Sunnydale High students are limbering up for the talent show auditions backstage , as they do, a demon voice can be heard, “I will be whole, I will be new.”
Out in the auditorium, Giles sits listening to Cordelia who is on stage, singing, badly. He takes as much as he can and then tells the next act to come on. He is soon joined by Buffy, Willow and Xander who arrive to mock and laugh at his new role of producer of the school talent show, imposed on him by the new principal, Mr. Snyder. Their smiles soon fade, however, when Mr. Snyder himself appears and ropes them into performing too. Giles has a smug moment.
As Lisa and her tuba finish their act, Morgan comes on carrying his ventriloquists dummy, Sid. Buffy cringes, dummies give her the creeps, and when Morgan starts his act, they all cringe for him. He is bad. Really bad. Until his act suddenly changes, his jokes become funny and even Buffy can’t help but laugh.
In the girls’ locker room, Emily, a dancer, is getting changed when she hears a noise. Looking around she sees something that makes her scream, the demon voice is heard once again, “I will be flesh.”
The next day the students are once again rehearsing on stage, Buffy, Willow and Xander are reluctantly rehearsing a dramatic piece when Morgan appears with Sid, who starts making smutty comments to the girls. Giles and Mr. Snyder are watching, Snyder waxing lyrical about how much he dislikes kids and the changes he is going to be making.
Meanwhile, in the girls; locker room, Emily’s body has been discovered.
Buffy, Xander and Willow sit in the hallway a little distance from the locker room as the police go about their work. Giles approaches from the scene with the disturbing news that Emily has had her heart cut out. They see a large knife in an evidence bag as they ponder the fact that, despite living on a Hellmouth, this could actually have been committed by a human being. Buffy is not convinced, she still believes it is the work of a demon of some kind. They decide to start talking to the students participating in the talent show to see what they can find out about Emily’s last movements.
As the gang all talk to different members of the talent show, their investigations all point in the same direction, not only has Morgan been acting very strangely of late, he appears to have been the last person to see Emily alive. Buffy discovers his odd behaviour for herself when she runs into him in the auditorium and appears to have interrupted a conversation between Morgan and his dummy. Morgan appears nervous and keeps rubbing his head, he places the dummy in his case, with his head facing to the left. As he shuts the case, Sid’s head can be seen facing to the right.
The four reconvene in the library to swap notes, all roads lead to Morgan and the decide Buffy should keep an eye on him, and possibly check his locker. In the meantime, Giles will use what little spare time he has to investigate the demon theory.
Someone or something is watching Buffy from a closet as Buffy makes her way down the hall to Morgan’s locker. Breaking it open she searches it, finding the dummy case, she is about to open it when a hand grabs her wrist. She has been caught by Principal Snyder. Giving him a flimsy excuse about getting something for a friend, she opens the case to find it empty. Morgan and Sid watch from the closet as Snyder and Buffy leave.
In a classroom, Morgan and Sid are arguing about Buffy, it’s not clear what Sid wants Morgan to do, but Morgan is refusing to do it. Finally Sid says he will do it himself.
That night, Buffy gets ready for bed, switching off her night light. As she does so Sid can be seen watching from her windowsill. Buffy is awoken by a noise, sitting up she hears something scuttle under her bed, she bends down and looks underneath. Nothing. Sitting back up she feels something on her face, screaming she goes for the light. As she reaches it her hand touches another hand, the light comes on and she sees her mother who has come to see what all the noise is about. Convinced there is something under the covers, Buffy throws them open but again finds nothing, but fails to notice something slipping out of the window. She agrees that she must have had a nightmare as Joyce goes to close the window, mentioning that she shouldn’t leave it open. Looking at it Buffy comments that she didn’t.
The next day at school, Giles, Xander and Willow are in the auditorium watching more rehearsals when Buffy arrives. They are less than convinced when she tells them she thinks Sid was in her room last night, without Morgan. On the plus side, Giles has found a possible demon culprit. The brotherhood of seven are a group of demons who masquerade as human, in order to maintain this they need to take a human heart and brain every seven years. They have their heart.
Later that day, Buffy and co are in class with Morgan. Buffy looks over at Morgan who has Sid with him, as she does, Sid turns his head and looks right at her. Buffy looks away. The teacher asks Morgan a question, but Sid is now whispering to him, the teacher speaks to Morgan again, but Sid tells her to leave him alone, which results in him being confiscated and placed in the closet until the end of school. From here he pronounces “I’m still watching you.”.
After school, Morgan returns to class to retrieve Sid. He stands fidgeting and rubbing his head as the teacher, who is obviously concerned for him, asks if everything is OK. Morgan has no time for anything but Sid, but when the teacher goes to the closet, Sid has gone.
Giles, Buffy and Willow enter the library to find Xander sitting there with Sid on his knee. Xander micks Buffy’s theory that Sid is real, messing around and banging Sid’s head on the table. Taking the opportunity to speak with Morgan without his constant companion, Buffy sets off to find him while Willow and Giles head to the stacks to do more research. Left on his own with the dummy, Xander isn’t quite as self-assured. Placing the dummy on the chair next to him, he turns it’s head to face away.
In the theatre, Buffy cautiously looks around backstage and runs into Mr. Snyder, who definitely seems to be keeping an eye on her. She tells him she was just leaving, but as Snyder leaves, Buffy instead heads to the prop room. Meanwhile, in the library, up in the stacks, Willow has found a book which tells of inanimate objects, such as dolls becoming mystically conscious and harvesting human organs in a desire to become human. Downstairs, Xander get sup to get a book and returns to find that Sid has gone. He leaps onto the table with a shout.
Back in the prop room, Buffy pokes about amongst the costumes and props, calling out for Morgan, who she soon finds, minus a brain. As she takes this in lighting rig comes crashing down towards her.
Trapped under the rig, Buffy tries to free herself, hearing something scuttling and scurrying above her. Suddenly, Sid is right by her side, slashing at her with a kitchen knife. Managing to free a hand, Buffy shoves him away, and then extricates herself from the rig. Finding Sid, she shoves him against the wall, but their ensuing conversation surprises both of them. Both of them suspected the other of being a demon, in reality, neither of them is.
In the library, Sid explains how he came to be in puppet form. He was once human and a demon hunter until he was cursed to spend his life in the form of a wooden dummy. The only way to break the curse is to kill the brotherhood of seven, he is six down, with one to go. He believes that the demon is taking the form of one of the students from the talent show, but now that he has his heart and his brain, he will be gone. In order to discover who the demon is, they just need to see who doesn’t turn up for the talent show. With a start, Giles realises that the show is about to start, and he should be there. Sid suggests that Giles performs a pre-show power circle with the students to determine who is missing and Buffy, Giles and Sid head off to do that, while Willow and Xander remain behind to obtain the addresses of all the participating students.
Back stage at the show, Giles gets everyone in to the circle while Buffy and Sid watch from the catwalk above. Everybody is there. No one is missing. The performers start preparing and Buffy jumps down to Giles, looking back up, she finds that Sid has gone. As she looks around for him she hears a dripping noise, as she walks towards the sound, something falls, she catches it until she realises it is a brain. She drops it fast.
In the library, Buffy and Xander watch as Willow pulls up the school records, they soon discover the reason for the discarded brain. Morgan was one of the smartest kids in school, however he had terminal brain cancer. The demon still needs a healthy, smart brain. They all agree. Willow is in danger.
On stage, Marc is preparing his act, telling the other smartest person around, Giles, that his assistant got sick, he asks if Giles will stand in for the guillotine trick, a little uncertain, Giles agrees.
Back in the library, Buffy and friends are trying to figure out their next step when they realise that the demon could still be one of the kids in the talent show and Giles doesn’t know. Buffy rushes to the auditorium to find Giles securely strapped into the guillotine, the blade aimed at his head, rather than his neck. Marc is taking a swipe at the rope holding the blade with a hatchet. The rope frays but doesn’t quite break as Buffy rushes Marc, knocking the hatchet out of his reach. As they fight, the rope begins to fray, sending the blade hurtling towards Giles’ head. Xander rushes over and grabs the rope just in time, pulling the blade back up as Willow grabs the hatchet and breaks the lock, freeing Giles. Meanwhile, the fight seems to be going Buffy’s way as she hurtles Marc into his magic box, but as she struggles with the lock, he emerges transformed into a demon. He grabs Buffy around the throat only to find that Sid is behind him with a knife.
Sid thrusts the knife into the demon’s back, sending the demon stumbling back into the guillotine; Xander lets go of the blade.
They all stare in horror, but Sid tells them there is one last thing that must be done; destroy the heart. Buffy offers to do it, but Sid insists. Walking over to where the demon lays, he plunges the knife into it’s heart and then collapses to the floor. Buffy walks over and picks up the now lifeless dummy, just as the curtain raises to reveal packed auditorium.
Even after all this, Buffy, Willow and Xander can’t get out of performing their dramatic piece. They stand, three in a row, acting out a piece from ‘Oedipus the King’, badly, to a stunned audience. Willow, standing in the middle, can take no more and runs off the stage. Buffy and Xander move closer together to fill the gap and continue without her.
- The network objected to the Oedipus talent-show scene saying, “We realise that it’s Shakespeare, but does he have to talk about sleeping with his mother.” The scene is from Oedipus Rex, an ancient Greek play written by Sophocles.
- The end credits roll on Buffy, Willow and Xander’s scene for the talent-show. This is the only time that the credits roll over a scene and are not in the Slayer font.
- The episode reveals some fears of the Scooby Gang, which are then featured in Nightmares. Including Buffy being afraid of dummies, Xander being afraid of clowns and Willow is afraid of standing before an audience.
- The pen that Willow uses in history class (where Morgan has Sid taken from him), is the the same pen that Buffy drops in Witch (when stealing hair from Amy.
- Principal Snyder declares that Principal Flutie’s “woolly-headed, liberal thinking” is what led to him getting eaten. Ironically Principal Snyder himself will also end up getting eaten.
- The book which contains the picture of the Brotherhood of Seven demon, is also used in Killed by Death, where it contains information on Der Kindestod.
Principal Snyder: Kids today need discipline. That’s an unpopular word these days – discipline. I know Principal Flutie would have said “Kids need understanding. Kids are human beings. That’s the kind of woolly-headed liberal thinking that leads to being eaten.
Giles: I – I think perhaps it was a little more complex than, um…
Giles: Oh, I-I’m sorry. Um, your hair, uh…
Cordelia: There’s something wrong with my hair? [touches her hair]. Oh my god. [runs off].
Giles: Xander was right. It worked like a charm.
Principal Snyder: there are things I will not tolerate: students loitering on campus after school, horrible murders with hearts being removed, and also smoking.
Buffy: Giles, into every generation is born who who must run the annual talentless show. You cannot escape your destiny.
Giles: If you had any shred of decency, you would have participated, or at least, um, helped.
Buffy: Nah, I think I’ll take you your traditional role… and watch.
Xander: And mock.
Willow: And laugh.
- While Buffy is searching around backstage, a crew member can briefly be seen reflected in the mirror.
- When Giles announces 5 minutes until the power circle, the violinist behind him can clearly be seen playing with the bow 2 inches from the strings.
- Crew members can be heard laughing in the background as Willow runs off stage (this move was not in the script.)
Greatest Love of All – Whitney Houston (sung by Cordelia)
© 16 August 2017 Cider
Characters and Story © Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy & 20th Century Fox