Riley and Buffy are fighting a vampire and a demon who are working together, something so unusual Buffy says they should tell Giles about it. But first they go back to Riley's and have sex. During the night, Riley hears a noise and goes out investigating, but finds nothing but a dripping faucet in the bathroom.
Xander is at his job driving an ice cream van. Anya is with him and she doesn't want to go to the party at Riley's because she's uncomfortable being around the Initiative guys since she's an exdemon. Xander tries to calm her, but can't seem to say anything right. Anya is upset because they didn't have sex the previous night and she believes this means they are breaking up. Xander insists this isn't true and that there is more to their relationship than sex, or there should be. He then offers to have sex with her right there. Of course, a crowd of children and parents have gathered and hear all this.
Buffy and Riley tell Giles, Willow, and Tara about the vampire/demon duo. Giles is surprised. They speculate that Adam is bringing together the different demon types. Riley invites Giles to the party, but Giles says he is going to the Espresso Pump instead. Riley and Buffy sneak off to have sex. That night, the frat house is cold (despite the heat being generated by Buffy and Riley locked in his room) and the guys light a fire in the fireplace. Only the flames flare out burning one of them and singing off his hair.
Walking down the street Anya is accosted by Spike. He's frightening people and then robbing them for a living now. It keeps him in blood and beer. Anya says she sees why he's so friendless. He notes Xander isn't with her. Xander, Buffy, Willow, and Tara are at the party. Xander is telling them what happened with Anya. Buffy is clearly not listening but staring at Riley across the room who is doing the same. Willow takes advantage of the opportunity to tell her she spilled something on Buffy's new peasant top. This snaps Buffy out of her reverie.
Anya and Spike are discussing their problems. Spike misses the killing. Anya says when the sex is gone all that's left is vengeance. Spike suggests she eviscerate Xander and he'll stake Dru. But she doesn't want to and he doesn't seem all that eager either. At the party, a guy discovers that touching one of the walls gives you something like an orgasm. Xander starts talking to a girl who appears interested in him. Buffy tells Riley she wants to see him upstairs about an essay and they rush up to his room obviously to have sex. Willow is explaining to Tara why she is afraid of horses. Tara tells her they should ride together. Willow puts her hand on Tara's knee (in a friendly way) and Tara leaps back saying it's disgusting to touch like that. She rushes off.
Anya brings Spike to the party and he's upset to see the Initiative there. Xander is upset to see Spike. Spike makes fun of Xander and Xander loudly refers to him as hostile 17. But none of the Initiative soldiers respond. Spike leaves Xander and Anya to fight while he goes off to get liquor. Xander tries to convince Anya their relationship is not ending, but she's convinced it is and tells him she is ending it. He insists he is the one with the right to end it and walks off to enjoy the party. She stays just to show him that she is having fun too. Xander spots a game of spin the bottle with the girl he was talking to earlier, Julie. He joins. He gets to kiss her, but just gives her a peck on the cheek. But she jumps on him and kisses him vigorously. Then she gets upset and runs away. He goes after her and sees the people touching the orgasm inducing wall. She's locked herself in a room, is crying and cutting off her hair. Meanwhile, Willow goes to the bathroom in search of Tara. She sees what appears to be a boy drowning in the tub, but when she reaches for him he disappears. She turns around and he's behind her. She screams. Buffy and Riley hear this, but they just keep on having sex. Xander tries to get someone to help with Julie but no one listens. Willow runs in and tells him about the apparition. Tara appears and says she wants to go. The spinning bottle explodes cutting people. They run to get Buffy. A vinelike growth spurts out from under the door and Buffy and Riley don't seem to hear them.
The house starts shaking as if there is an earthquake. Spike's chair suddenly sprouts straps which bind him to it. One of the Initiative guys starts spouting some religious rant. The house pretty much empties and an apparition runs through Anya. She joins Xander, Willow, and Tara as they flee the house. Spike breaks free of his bonds. An almost bald Julie runs out with them. In the Initiative headquarters they rush to guard the cells, fearful the locking mechanism will fail. Outside, Julie flees. Xander wants to go back in to help Buffy and Riley. Spike says he'll come too, but talks himself out of it and leaves. Xander tries to get in but is repulsed. They decide to go to Giles at the Espresso Pump.
Giles is playing acoustic guitar and singing at the coffee shop, with a crowd of fans around him. The girls find him kind of sexy, but the scene creeps out Xander. The vines are filling the house and Buffy and Riley are still at it. Giles finds it hard to believe they were having sex with all that going on. But when Willow tells him people were acting strange sexually, he wonders if a succubi or satyr is at work. Willow discovers the frat was not always a frat but was a home for children run by the children's aid and directed by Genevieve Holt. Giles, Anya, and Xander go to visit Holt. They discover she is a religious zealot, opposed to all sexual expression. She traumatized the kids. She cut off the girls' hair if she thought they were preening and immersed kids in the tub as a kind of baptism for those she thought sinful. But there were no deaths. Giles realizes the apparitions are not ghosts, but poltergiests. That the sexual energy released by Buffy and Riley has energized the poltergeist who are the result of the intense sexual repression Mrs. Holt enforced on her charges. He believes Buffy and Riley will be drained of energy and killed.
Willow, Tara, and Giles perform a spell to summon the spirits of the children and distract them so Xander and Anya can get into the house and get Buffy and Riley. It works and they enter to find the stairs blocked with vines. They start hacking their way upstairs with the swords Xander has brought. But the spell fails and halfway up the stairs the poltergeists grab Xander and drag him into the bathroom where they start drowning him in the tub. Anya is knocked over the banister. She comes to and goes back upstairs. A vine goes right through her hand. She rescues Xander. They fight their way through the vines to the bedroom door and force it open. A shocked Buffy shouts 'don't you knock'.
The next day, Buffy and Riley are shocked to learn all that happened, especially Giles singing. Xander and Anya seem to be back together again.
You've got to wonder why Buffy isn't a nun. Everytime she has sex with a guy, something goes wrong. Angel turned into Angelus, Parker turned into a jerk, and she and Riley unleashed horrific poltergeist forces nearly killing their friends. This was one of the moralizing episodes of Buffy in which the dangers of extremism (both too much sex from Buffy and Riley and the 'sex is dirty' and mustn't be allowed attitude of Holt) are made pretty clear. We're also told that sex outside of relationships is not the goal - by Xander. And we get a little reminder to have safe sex when Buffy and Riley reach for that condom.
And on the lesbian front, that conversation about horses between Willow and Tara was certainly suggestive. Horses are a common metaphor for sex and the fact that Willow says she's scared of horses and Tara says she was riding since childhood says a lot about their personalities. When Tara asks her to ride with her, guaranteeing safety and fun, the subtext is pretty obvious. And it's not surprising that the statement leads to Willow putting her hand on Tara's knee and eliciting her response of disgust. The poltergeists manifest themselves around sexual activities. The guy talking about the sensuality of French as a come on to the girl, the spin the bottle game, and Willow and Tara and horses.
I never before realized how much in common Spike and Anya have. Both were powerful demons who did an incredible amount of damage. Now both are neutered. Anya has lost her powers and Spike is prevented from hurting people by the chip in his head. Both reminisce about the good old days when they had power and both bemoan the sad aspects of love. Both claim they want to hurt the lovers who have hurt them, but neither really seems eager to do it. Anya passes up on hurting Xander (at least physically) and even tells him she's foregoing the vengeance. Spike just doesn't seem interested in staking Dru, for all his claims otherwise. Given these similarities, it's no surprise that Xander is jealous. And it did look as if Spike were hitting on Anya just for an instant. His desire to help her eviscerate Xander and have her help him stake Dru seemed the kind of loving, couple relationship he wants. It's certainly the way his relationship with Dru seemed to work.
Isn't it interesting that the couple who are always talking about sex, Xander and Anya, are the ones who manage to resist the poltergeists and save the day. The poltergeists seemed to be reacting not simply to sex but to hidden sex. There is nothing hidden about the sexuality of Xander and Anya. But Buffy and Riley kept making up cover stories for their trysts, Willow and Tara talk about horses, the guy at the party talks about the sensuality of language, and the group play spin the bottle. At the same party, Anya and Xander discuss his penis and how their relationship is based on it, yet neither is affected by the poltergeists. In fact, they defeat the poltergeists by operating closely together - they are practically snuggling as they push their way to the bedroom door.
Of course, it was fairly early in the episode that similarities to Fear, Itself showed themselves. And even Xander notes these when he talks of all the frat houses being haunted. In both episodes we have a frat party that ends up being taken over by entities. In Fear, Itself, the entity was summoned up by casting a spell and some accidental bleeding. In this episode, the sexual activity of Buffy and Riley summon the poltergeists. In both stories Anya and Xander argue over the nature of their relationship. In both, Anya comes to rescue Xander. In Fear, Itself, the gang were separated and that separation made them weak. Together again, they were strong enough to destroy the demon. In this episode, they form couples (Xander/Anya, Buffy/Riley, and Willow/Tara). But the couples are still acting separately from the other couples and it's only when they all come together (Tara and Willow working the spell, Anya and Xander entering the house, Buffy and Riley stopping having sex) that they defeat the poltergeists.
Frankly, I could have done without this episode, which is pretty much another stand alone story like Superstar. In fact, it has even less to commend it than Superstar, since that episode had the interesting idea of self awareness. Here we get a nod to Adam with the uniting of demons and vampires. But that's a few seconds at the beginning and pretty much forgotten afterward. Tara talking about Adam uniting the races did interest me. I haven't forgotten how she sabotaged the spell to reveal demonic energies in Goodbye, Iowa and I'm sure she is keeping something secret. But this was very little in an otherwise unremarkable episode.
Some quick final thoughts. So, can Riley not afford to buy shirts or does he just not have any clean ones? He's certainly spent much of the last two episodes bare chested. That vine went right through Anya's hand, I'm surprised there was so little reaction from her. Did the mayor given Mrs. Holt that medal? I'm sure he would have approved of her. Was Spike kidding all the time or was he for a moment seriously considering going in with Xander? I'd like to think the latter.
Lines of the week:
"You take the killing for granted and then it's gone and you're like I wish I'd appreciated it more. Stopped and smelled the corpses." - Spike reminiscing with Anya about the good old days.
"I had a bad birthday party pony thing when I was 4." - Willow explaining her fear of horses to Tara.
"Is every frat on this campus haunted?" - Xander asking the question we all have.
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