Mark Watches ‘Buffy The Vampire Slayer’: S01E10 – Nightmares

In the tenth episode of the first season of Buffy The Vampire Slayer, PLEASE HOLD ME. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Buffy.

For nearly a decade, mine was the same thing.

I’m in a forest. The trees seem impossibly high, and I mean that in the sense that they weren’t densely packed, yet I still couldn’t see the tops of them. They were redwoods, maybe, tall, skinny trees with foliage near the top. The trunks were scaly with thick bark and I’d always start in the same place: in between two trees whose trunks somehow grew together about five feet above my head.

That’s when the yelling would start. The trees began with a low moan, and then seconds later, they were yelling at me. The message was always the same: We’re coming. You can’t escape us. You’re worthless. We’re coming. Come back, Mark. Stop running.

And I would run, every single time. I’d dart through the trees, my legs pumping, leaping over logs and debris, and even though I’d been a runner for a long time, it would always be a few seconds before my muscles were on fire. I was exhausted, and I’d press on, terrified of the trees.

They were moving. The trees were moving, purposely falling towards me to trap me and squash me, yelling at me, condescending voices filling the space in the forest. I tried running faster, but now I was tripping constantly, falling to my knees and crawling along the undergrowth, and I could hear trees crashing to the ground next to me.

The worst part was when time would slow. It would happen every time, and it would last even after I finally woke up. I would see every detail of that forest, and sometimes, if I concentrated real hard, I could see ants on the trunk of a tree that fell next to me. The voices of the trees would turn demonic from being stretched out, but I still knew exactly what they were saying, and the shame and the fear mixed together and I hated this nightmare every time I had it. I’d wake up, heart pounding, sweat soaking me and the sheets, and time would still seem to be drifting by slowly, like pollen in a spring breeze.

It was such an awful nightmare because the effects of it wouldn’t go away for at least five minutes after I woke up. I’d feel like I woke up with the power to control time, but in one of the least convenient ways imaginable. I remember years later, when I saw a therapist regularly for the first time in my life, I told her about that dream. Despite that I’ve not had it since I was about sixteen, she could tell it affected me on a visceral level. It doesn’t take a therapist, though, to see how easily that dream relates back to the fear and shame that was given to me by my mother, but I sure as hell wish that my subconscious mind  had chosen a LESS TERRIFYING WAY TO CONVEY THIS MESSAGE TO ME. Also HEY MIND: I ALREADY KNEW MY MOTHER WAS TERRIBLE TO ME. STOP REMINDING ME IN MY DREAMS.

That’s the thing about nightmares, though, that’s so fucked up about them: they can take stresses, fears, and concerns and magnify them in a way that makes you feel like THE WHOLE WORLD IS ENDING. Which doesn’t mean they’re all like that, obviously. I’ve had my fair share of nightmares that are so nonsensical and bizarre that, upon waking up, I felt embarrassed that they frightened me so much. (For real, I once had a nightmare that I was force fed milk on live television, and then the entire tabloid circuit ran stories that I was the worst vegan on the planet. COME ON, BRAIN. THAT DOESN’T EVEN MAKE SENSE.)

“Nightmares” is easily my favorite episode of season one so far, and the beauty of it is layered and complex. It is, first and foremost, creepy as fuck. I’d just pulled my laundry out of the dryer prior to starting this episode and I was folding a shirt when the spiders came out of Wendell’s text book. I’m not particularly scared of spiders, but in certain contexts, I can be. THIS IS ONE OF THEM. Oh my god, seriously, I knew after that cold open that this episode was going to go straight for the fucked up, and I was so excited.

This episode is essentially a forty-five minute experiment in showing the world that Joss Whedon can create nightmare fuel like it’s a walk in the park. “Nightmares” is pervasively creepy, and I was so impressed how dense the plot went. This would have been a good episode had the main five characters been the ones to deal with nightmares, but Whedon is certainly not satisfied with that. This story posits the idea that nightmares could come real in a social sense, almost as if it was a communicable disease. Even better, Whedon doesn’t ignore that people have multiple fears; few of us are only afraid of one single thing. Because of that, we watch Cordelia, Giles, Xander, Willow, and Buffy all have to face many fears all coming alive over the course of this episode. As this happens, this all just gets weirder and weirder, until the final ten minutes are like an explosion of the theater of the absurd.

It’s done beautifully, and it’s honestly one of the best single episodes of television I’ve seen. But this alone isn’t what makes “Nightmares” so fantastic. The personal and emotional stories of both Buffy and Billy are truly what make this such a memorable story. It’s here that I see just what sort of talent Sarah Michelle Gellar possesses given the right lines and the right context. The cold open introduces us first to the concept of Buffy’s father, who hasn’t even been mentioned until now. It turns out that Buffy’s parents divorced (amicably, it seems). For the first time in the series, her father is coming around to spend the weekend with her, and it’s a source of anxiety for Buffy. I don’t know much history about the two, but I assume that since his appearances are sort of rare, she worries that he won’t show. Maybe he hasn’t before?

That fear comes out during another nightmare sequence, and even though we all know that Billy is causing these events, that they aren’t real, it doesn’t make her father’s rejection any less painful. In fact, it’s one of the more brutal emotional moments on television that I can call. It’s so goddamn cruel, but that’s exactly what so many people fear, myself included. It’s bad enough to be rejected by a person for any reason, but to be specifically told that your parents divorced because you are an awful child? That’s gutting. That’s life-endingly terrible!

It’s such a bold and terrifying move for the show to take, especially this early in its existence, and I love it. It makes the end of it so much more powerful, when Buffy runs into her father’s arms and knows that what he said earlier was all in her head. But it’s also a sign of how Whedon understands that the worst fears are the ones that prey on your emotions. We see Willow’s ultimate fear, and it’s one based on public embarrassment. Xander’s fears rest on a similar idea, but his involves him being stripped of his “coolness.” (Sorry, I had to use that pun. HAD TO.) It’s also related to Cordelia’s true fear, in which her beauty and social standing have disappeared as well. For Giles, not only is the loss of his intellect terrifying, but losing Buffy is the ultimate horror for him. Plus, Buffy’s fear of being turned into a vampire kind of works well into that, doesn’t it?

On that same note, I was impressed and overjoyed at how Whedon and company handled the character of Billy. He was purposely portrayed as the evil spirit child entity thing from the beginning, and I was pleasantly surprised at the subversion of the trope by making him unable to control the expansion of the nightmare events. And when it came to light that he may have been both abused and violently attacked, I thought the show handled it with tact, portraying it in a way that highlighted the sheer trauma of what that experience is like. I won’t go into details since I’ve spoken about it so openly before, but being abused and attacked as a child or a young teenager does feel like a waking nightmare, and the people who perpetrate it are just like monsters in your mind.

I’m even glad that the coach was held accountable for his actions in the end. It was a tad sloppy, as if the writers ran out of time to give it a full closure and realized they had to tack on an ending in just sixty seconds, but I’m still glad it’s there.

God, this was such a fantastic episode. I adore it. Also FUCK THE UGLY MAN AND HIS CLUB ARM THAT IS SO FUCKING CREEPY. sweet summer child, I need to be held.

About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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203 Responses to Mark Watches ‘Buffy The Vampire Slayer’: S01E10 – Nightmares

  1. tigerpetals says:

    Willow only has one nightmare. For the others, there were multiple dreams and escalation of severity.

    The Master quoted a Cinderella song. How can he not be liked.

    Buffy is hot no matter what because she’s Buffy.… is a PostSecret for Buffy related to that scene with her father. It’s okay to view. But it’s from… , which is not okay for the unspoiled to view.

    I think I had other thoughts but I forgot them.

    • tigerpetals says:

      Vagrerfgvat gb abgr gung va guvf svefg frnfba, gurer nccrnef gb or zber bs na nep sbe Knaqre guna sbe Jvyybj, juvyr guvf fuvsgf va erirefr yngre ba.

      V ybir ubj Ohssl’f qernzf ner rpubrq va shgher frnfbaf. Ohevrq nyvir naq pbzvat onpx jebat, purpx. Orvat yrsg oruvaq ol thlf, purpx.

  2. Jenny_M says:

    I forgot Almanzo Wilder played Buffy's dad, and all I could think was HEY, ALMANZO. STOP BEING AN ASSHOLE TO BUFFY. LAURA WOULD NOT BE PLEASED.

    Yeah, I really liked this episode. I'd forgotten how much.

    • Partes says:

      "Yeah, I really liked this episode. I'd forgotten how much."

      Same. It didn't really make too much of an impression outside "well that was creepy" to me, and then I kind of forgot about it. Now I'm older I like it simply because the idea of examining personal fears is fascinating to me, as I think they can tell you so much about a person. [Doctor Who spoilers] Gur Tbq Pbzcyrk jnf njrfbzr gb zr sbe n ybg bs gur fnzr ernfbaf, naq gur snpg gung gurl xrcg vg uvqqra sbe n juvyr rknpgyl jubfr srne gur pelvat Nzl jnf (nygubhtu lbh pna thrff), nyybjvat sbe zhygvcyr vagrecergngvbaf, jnf terng. [end spoilers] The more you explore a person's weaknesses the easier it is to appreciate their strengths.

    • eulaliavox says:

      omg that IS him (he?)! 0.0 I had no idea.

    • Ponder says:

      Um, no, Dean Butler played Hank Summers.

      • ghostofdurruti says:

        Ah, but Dean Butler also played Almanzo Wilder.

      • Jenny_M says:

        Yes, Dean Butler who is best known for playing Almanzo Wilder on the beloved for its complete and utter camp value series Little House on the Prairie played Buffy's dad.

  3. Noybusiness says:

    I've never had recurring nightmares. They've always been one-offs, when I was younger: a few different ones with Dementors, one with me on a model train set going towards automated multilating knife-hands. But none at all in the past couple years.

  4. Sophi says:

    I never remember my dreams, nightmares or otherwise. Anyone else in the same camp? Nightmares would probably be more terrifying because of this though, wouldn't be used to them at all. Plus, with enough of gut-wrenching anxiety already whilst awake would ensure anxiety whilst asleep rather awful.

    On the rare occasions when I do remember my dreams, they tend rather benignly odd in a fantastic way. There was one horrific dream when I was about seven about a dinosaur coming to life off a pavement and chasing a bus that I swear was frightening as fuck and not at all as narmy as it sounds. Any of y'all had beautifully weird night-time experiences?

    • cait0716 says:

      I had a terrifying dream when I was four that just seems absurd in retrospect. My best friend and I were going to Never, Neverland with Peter Pan, Wendy, John, and Michael. But when we got there Captain Hook captured us. And then he turned all the seas to lava so we couldn't escape. And then he lined us up and sliced as all into three pieces (at the waist and the neck). But we were somehow still alive. So Tinkerbell shook her pixie dust on our heads and we all linked up (I think we were holding ears or something) and floated back home. But just our heads. I woke up screaming with my parents both trying to calm me down. And it remains one of my most vivid memories of a dream ever.

      Lately, my nightmares tend to revolve around accidentally spoiling Mark or saying something ignorant and being shamed right out of this community.

      Dreams are weird.

    • arctic_hare says:

      You know what's weird? I had a dream once after seeing Jurassic Park about a T-rex walking through the city and peering into my bedroom. Years before they had one do just that in The Lost World. PROPHETIC NIGHTMARE

    • NB2000 says:

      The all time champion for weirdest dream I've ever had is the one where I was Marta from the Sound of Music on the chocolate factory tour with the Gene Wilder version of Wonka. There was this like…hole in the ground with voices coming out of it and they got mad at me when I wouldn't do what they told me so they started shaking the factory. At this point I realised that Wonka was actually evil, the evil laugh tipped me off, and decided it was time to leave the factory. On the way out I met up with the Scooby Gang (the live action movie versions, I don't know why) and we discovered the factory was secretly being run by this giant red demon who was trying to work out what "type" everyone was. Yeah I don't think this dream made much sense back then and the WTF just grows with age.

      Second weirdest was probably when I was the leader of a resistance against, this seems to be a theme with my brain, a giant red demon man and his army of soldiers with melons for heads.

    • rabbitape says:

      I always remember my bad dreams, and never my good dreams, although I will remember that I had a good dream, just not what was in it.

      I tend to have the same bad dreams over and over, too. One is about being trapped in a house, knowing that something truly, soul-crushingly awful is about to happen inside, at a specific time, and watching the clock tick down to that time.

      In the other, I'm crossing the street to go to a house where a couple of friends live, when two cars smash into each other, and I'm caught in the crash. The drivers are ok, but I'm not, trapped between the cars. One of my friends comes out of the house to tell me that both drivers are friends of theirs, and they'll be in really big trouble if anyone finds out they were driving, so no one can call for any help. They all go inside the house and leave me there to die.

    • tigerpetals says:

      I've had a dream of being the best friend of the girl from the Ring. Only she had much longer hair. I'd stand in front of a mirror with a frame like a stone arch in a gray room, watching people, and she would stand behind me. If I tried to join the people she'd strangle me with her hair. There was some kind of segue with me exploring island Mario style (though I thought it was Final Fantasy), by jumping around. The sky was peachy pink. Or maybe that was a separate dream in the same night.

      There's also this dream of running through the woods, speaking to a cold snarky white-haired guy, and leaping into a giant pink flower that swallowed me whole.

      And leaving this noisy nightclub or bar to trek through snowy fields and mountains, until I come up to the edge of the world, where there is a brilliant light of red, yellow, pink, and orange, and I knew it was the apocalypse. Va guvf bar V jnf na nzarfvnp Ohssl naq V jnf geniryvat jvgu gur jbyirf sebz Jbys'f Enva. Gung'f yvxryl jurer gur fabj naq ncbpnylcgvp vzntrel pnzr sebz. I started an original story with this years ago, and same with the previous dream, but I got stuck and left off.

      Most of the dreams I remember tend to be this way, weirdly fantastic and beautiful. Sometimes scary, but in a cool way I enjoy remembering.

    • sporkaganza93 says:

      Weirdest nightmare is still when I was, like, five or something, and it's so laughably non… anything.

      I was watching TV and this guy with sunglasses, like an MIB, was on TV. He was rapping, but apparently in my dream-world that consisted of just grunting rhythmically. As I watched, suddenly the very same guy just walked up next to me and said, "He's not really singing." I said, "What?" And he said, "We're not really talking." And I said, "What?!" And he said, "This has all been recorded on video tape." And I was like "What?!!" and then I woke up.

      And then I ran screaming to my parents' bedroom, despite the fact that as I did so even I knew that dream was ridiculous and not very scary. Because I was just so scared for some reason. What the fuck, brain.

    • t09yavosaur says:

      I don't really have reoccuring dreams but I do have reoccuring "sets". I have a college set that is a bit of a mix of my own school with various fictional schools mixed in (hogwarts, etc.) and it is surrounded by forest instead of city. Another is this really awesome metal building that is sometimes a school and sometimes a museum (and sometimes both). It also has aspects of real buildings but it is mostly a design created by my subconscious. In the dreams I usually spend my time in the back parts of the building where it is a lot of gears and chains, like a factory level in a video game.

    • CrisA says:

      The dreams that I remember tend to be extremely bizarre and feature fictional characters. Like the time I teamed up with Jared from The Pretender in order to fight Lucius Malfoy, who we defeated by throwing him into a fountain full of raspberry jam. As you do.

      I almost never remember my nightmares. As far as I know, I haven't had one in over a decade. I do remember having a recurring one as a child, but the only thing I remember about it was a yellow light under the dresser in my bedroom that kept getting brighter and brighter.

    • Karen says:

      I have the same experience as you! I RARELY remember dreams or nightmares.

    • Dru says:

      I had one when I was fifteen that……I'm still not sure just what it was, an out-of-body experience or the normal stuff (I was hovering over my bed looking down at my sleeping self, just before I woke up, and I remember being TERRIFIED that I wouldn't be able to "get back inside" myself).

      Then there's the one a few years ago where I dreamed I'd woken up blind – I blinked in the dream, and to this day I don't know whether it really did happen or the blinking just set me to waking up with (faulty as usual, but better than nothing!) eyesight.

      This is really weird considering I normally NEVER remember my dreams, but apparently my brain likes to retain the horrible ones for me to shudder at.

    • Elexus Calcearius says:

      I had a horrible recurring dream when I was kid where I manage to destroy the entire Earth, and watch all my loved ones die around me. You are lucky not to remember the nightmares, trust me.

      Of course, I do get the remember my good dreams, which are usually pretty awesome.

    • msnaddie says:

      My nightmare almost always involve my reflection in the mirror moving on its own D: ALWAYS.

  5. Nos says:

    My horrible reoccurring nightmare was a long hallway, with my father on a step ladder changing a light blub. I'll walk closer, and he look down at me, and get this huge smile and nod….OMG I get shivers just thinking about it.

    To this day huge, fake smiles creep me the fuck out.

    Gurersber, Uhfu jnf shpxvat greevslvat sbe zr.

  6. ladililn says:

    This episode always creeps me out more than I think it will before rewatching. It's really good, but…scary as fuck. It does make me love all the characters even more, though. *smishes them* I just want to hug them all and tell them it'll be okay. :3

    V thrff vg'f abg nf rnfl gb cynl Jung Jnf Ohssl Onaavat Qnja Sebz gbqnl, fvapr fur pna'g rknpgyl xrrc ure sebz fyrrcvat. KQ (Sbe gur erpbeq, V nz univat jnl gbb zhpu sha jvgu guvf tnzr, 'pnhfr vg'f xvaq bs yvxr orvat noyr gb zragnyyl nqq nqqvgvbany fprarf bagb pnaba jvgubhg vg nssrpgvat nalguvat va gur birenyy cybg, unun)

  7. misterbernie says:

    I really like this one. The scene between Buffy and her father is just so… mind-numbingly depressing.

    Jryy, bxnl, Unax qbrf ghea bhg gb or nyy gur ontf bs qvpxf yngre ba, ohg fgvyy…

    SMG is I think the best at talking when wearing vamp!face in the first season, no?

    Only other comment I can think of right now is that I was kinda surprised when I saw the German dub first because they didn't cut out the parts with the visible swastika during Xander's sequence (also, Xander? Picking up random sweets from the floor is kinda really gross and stupid.)

    • cait0716 says:

      SMG is I think the best at talking when wearing vamp!face in the first season, no?

      That's partly because the main actors (she and David Boreanaz) got custom fitted teeth, whereas everyone else just had generic teeth.

    • majere616 says:

      Oh come on, they're still in their wrappers so they're fair game.

    • Partes says:

      "The scene between Buffy and her father is just so… mind-numbingly depressing. "

      Yeesh, when I was younger my parents split and my Dad moved to another country. This talk struck waaay too close to home, and I seriously wanted to turn it off. Fortunately I stayed watching for whatever reason, but it speaks to the power of the scene I guess. It was really well written, and states what a lot of divorced children fear (especially when one parent leaves) that it can be difficult to watch.

      • misterbernie says:

        Yikes… I really don't want to imagine what that scene feels like if there's such a close parallel (I'm lucky enough that my parents split before I was old enough to acknowledge the existence of anything further away from me than my toes).

  8. guest_age says:

    *holds you*

    It's been awhile since I saw this episode (I seriously just skip the entire first season when I re-watch this show /bad fan) so I was surprised last night by how actually pretty decent it was. I couldn't help but compare Billy's story to the little girl's in Fear Her. Not the same by any account, but oh God, Billy is handled so much better than Fear Her.

    Giles's fears get to me the most out of any of the main characters. Not just because he fears Buffy's death, but because he fears things that are so deeply based in his character (getting lost in the library stacks, being unable to read, etc). Not that the others don't, but like…I'm sure Buffy's not the only person who knows about vampires who is also afraid of becoming one. Similarly, Willow and Xander's fears are also shared by many. And while I'm sure there are people out there who fear getting lost in library stacks and being unable to read, if I read you a list of these character's fears without telling you which character each fear belonged to, I'm fairly sure that most people would guess which ones were Giles's (and which ones were Cordelia's, actually) before they'd guess the other three.

    That said, oh God I had somehow forgotten about the spiders and NOOOO DID NOT WANT.

    Nyfb: nalbar urer nyfb sbyybjvat Znex Ernqf Ybeq bs gur Evatf naq abj qrrcyl jbeevrq nobhg jung uvf ernpgvba gb gur ragf jvyy or?

  9. hassibah says:

    This episode's great but I don't have a lot to add, the character moments were awesome.
    This is definitely one of my favourite moments for the Master as well.

    I find clown phobias kind of fascinating. I just thought they were annoying but one of my best friends found them terrifying. I did hate spiders as a kid, untill I moved into a place that had centipedes and then spiders just seemed comparatively quaint.

  10. dasmondschaf says:

    I'm pretty sure this is the first episode of Buffy I ever watched… shortly after my own parents divorced.

    I remember being pretty horribly upset at Buffy's nightmare in which her father says that she caused the divorce. Jesus, that was intense, and it really struck home with me at the time.

    This is one of the highlights of the first season for me; it's just so relentlessly creepy, and there's always something happening in the background of the scenes. I also found it creepy that it took them so long to realize that these were nightmares coming true–after all, when you're having a nightmare, it all seems very very real at the time.

  11. Inseriousity. says:

    haha I had a nightmare after watching james and the giant peach and i crawled through the peach and turned into a bug and then all the other bugs started chasing me trying to eat me. LOL it's so funny now but I woke up screaming!

    havent had a nightmare for years though. I think cordelia getting dragged to the chess club has to be the best one though!

  12. ladililn says:

    Anyone else get ridiculously heartwarmed when Buffy and her dad get together for real at the end? I always just feel so happy for Buffy. 🙂

  13. Alayne_Stone says:

    You know, I only watched BtVS for the first time myself about two years ago and I remember it taking a very long time for me to get into it. I especially remember not caring for S1 at all. Yet reading these posts make me all nostalgic for it. Sure, there were internet!demons and the acting was clunky and all the vampires talked with a lisp, but there were also episodes like this, that show just how amazing this show can be. So I'm glad Mark is realising this the first time around, it took me a while longer 🙂

    One thing this also made me remember though, is ubj fgenatr vg vf gung Ohssl'f qnq qvfnccrnef sebz gur fubj pbzcyrgryl ng bar cbvag. Ur jnf arire n uhtr qrny ohg zbzragf yvxr guvf jrer fb vagrerfgvat! V arire dhvgr tbg jul gurl qrpvqrq gb iveghnyyl arire zragvba uvz ntnva, rfcrpvnyyl nsgre Gur Obql.

  14. NB2000 says:

    My biggest fear is basically the one that opens the episode, SPIDERS EVERYWHERE! I mentioned way back when we were discussing Doctor Who that I've had nightmares about spiders in my bed and that opening scene is just *shudders*

    I’ve had my fair share of nightmares that are so nonsensical and bizarre that, upon waking up, I felt embarrassed that they frightened me so much.

    On the other hand most of my nightmares are usually like this. Terrifying to be in but pretty silly when thought about too much.

    The scene between Buffy and the nightmare version of her father is so well done. SMG and the actor who plays Hank handle it so beautifully. That he's so matter of fact about blaming her just makes it hit that much harder IMHO. Buffy's scenes with Billy, where she's trying to help him deal with what happened show a really nice side of the character.

    Looking over the comments, it doesn't seem to have been mentioned yet: one of Sarah Michelle Gellar's biggest fears is being buried alive. Just…yeah.

    • beckaboomer says:

      The scene between Buffy and the nightmare version of her father is so well done. SMG and the actor who plays Hank handle it so beautifully. That he's so matter of fact about blaming her just makes it hit that much harder IMHO.

      Agreed. He's just so.. cheerful about being cruel, and it is a child's worst nightmare, isn't it: to be casually told you are not good enough, will never be good enough, and everything is your fault. Hearing these things said in such a manner that implies they're just common knowledge must be horrible. Ow, ow ow.

      • NB2000 says:

        And poor Buffy just looks like she's trying to stop herself crying and failing because it's just. so. awful. and then he tells her off for being upset which just makes it worse.

        • Dru says:

          OH GOD SMG’S SADFACE. Poor Buffy 🙁

          (Katee Sackhoff’s sadface is the only one I have ever seen that can rival hers for sheer amount of heartbreak conveyed in one look)

      • notemily says:

        Plus when you're a kid, you have less of a barometer of what's "normal" and what's not, so when adults talk to you in that tone of voice where everything they're saying seems reasonable and natural, it's harder to figure out that what they're saying is really not okay. In fact, I think that's one reason why Billy has so much trouble in this episode–he believes what his coach says about him being the cause of the lost game, and that the lost game is more important than his own well-being. He needs Buffy's help to show him that his coach is wrong.

    • notemily says:

      Alyson Hannigan also really can't sing, although I don't know if being forced to sing is a fear of hers.

      Gung'f jul ure yvarf ner zbfgyl svyyre.

      • Lady X says:

        It actually is, she asked Joss for limited singing lines in Once More With Feeling and no songs of her own.

  15. Scarecrow says:

    Also, got to love the trope breaker that the guy from the cold open actually *loves* spiders!

    Love the background details and the use of The Master in this episode.

  16. Something amusing to note: gur qverpgbe bs guvf rcvfbqr vf anzrq Oehpr Frgu Terra.

    I haven't seen "Nightmares" in a long time, and I don't think I've seen it an excessive number of times. V trarenyyl guvax bs vg nf n grfg eha sbe "Erfgyrff."

  17. Fuchsia says:

    Fucking nightmares. I've always suffered from chronic nightmares– as a child/teenager, I would wake up covered in bruises from thrashing around in my sleep so much (one night, I also tore a blanket in half). When we adopted a new cat, she started sleeping in the bed with me and my movements became much more controlled (I think even while unconscious, I was aware of not hurting her), although the nightmares never really went away. A few years ago, I lost three of my four foster kittens and was living in a constant state of worry that my own cats would develop their disease, and I had nightmares every night for ten months straight. They covered a lot of topics, the obvious one being my cats and my inability to save their lives, but also rape, school, and money (all perpetual worries of mine). The only thing that broke the constant nightmares was going out of town for a week, I had the best sleep I could ever remember having, but the nightmares didn't go away forever. I still got nightmares 3-4 times a week for a long time. Even now, they don't occur as often but when they do, they're not easy to recover from. Although, I must be thankful that I no longer cover myself in bruises while I sleep… my six cats in the bed with me keep me in control.

    So. Yeah. This episode makes me very uncomfortable (but in a way that can only be appreciated as a result of good storytelling).

    • notemily says:

      I foster kittens and I still feel guilty about the one I lost and go over scenarios in my head about how I could have saved her. I can't imagine losing three 🙁 *hugs*

  18. beckaboomer says:

    I adore this episode. I share Xander's fear of clowns, and Buffy's nightmare of "OMG there's a test but I don't know anything and what are words WHERE DID TIME GO?" I also have a recurring nightmare where all of my teeth fall out, which maybe means I'm.. paranoid about dental hygiene? I don't even know.

    Giles' fear of losing Buffy is so heart-wrenching. You just know that, being an intelligent person, he has to feel that the odds are against her. So many demons, and she is just one girl. It's worse for Buffy, obviously, but Giles cares for her so much. I feel for them both.

    I like how Willow, Xander and Cordelia's fears are all.. not shallow, precisely, but more immature at this point than Buffy and Giles' nightmares. It just shows that they haven't been through the same amount of trauma (YET… DUN DUN DUNNNNN…).

    • monkeybutter says:

      I hate those teeth-falling-out dreams.

    • The_Consultant says:

      I also get the teeth falling out dream. Apparently it's really common ( There is an Xkcd for everything make sure you read the mouse over text). The worst part is that my brain has started trolling me with it. I will have a dream where my teeth are falling out and I will think 'Oh no, this is horrible. It is just like those terrible dreams I have where my teeth are falling out.' and then I wake up.

      • beckaboomer says:

        I didn't know it was so common! I've told my mother and my sister about those teeth dreams, and they looked at me like, "Huh?" Well at least I'm not just weird. (Well… not weird in that sense, anyway.)

        My brain does that, too! Where it's like, everything is normal until a tooth falls out. And I look down and say, "This is just like my dream!" And sometimes I realize it's a dream while I'm dreaming, and I try to control it or I try to shove the teeth back in. It's all very disturbing. 🙁

        • misterbernie says:

          My brain isn't content with just teeth falling out. No, the latest one I had featured my teeth rotting away and somehow causing one of my cheeks to rot, too, leaving a huge hole in my face (dream!me just had to keep peeling the skin and flesh away, of course).

      • Pseudonymph says:

        I recently experienced a strange variation of the teeth falling out dream.

        Someone built a giant electromagnet and when they turned it on it started pulling out my fillings. It hurt really bad but the person operating the electromagnet couldn't hear my screams to turn it off.

    • James says:

      Ugh, I used to get those teeth falling out ones all the time. So horrible. Actually, when I was a kid it was my teeth being worn down to sand. It become really vivid, realistic, bloody falling out when I was in my teens. Knowing now that those dreams are to do with people's perceptions of you it makes so much sense that I would have them, and that they stopped when they did.

    • core013 says:

      OMG, I also have recurring nightmares about my teeth falling out. I'm pretty sure they started because of a real life dental trauma which just makes them extra horrible.

      • beckaboomer says:

        I think mine may have started because I had braces for so long, and every time I had them adjusted I had this lingering fear that they would pull my teeth out because it hurt so much. I was really young when I first got my braces, and adding in my squick about metal touching my teeth… *shudder*

    • kasiopeia says:

      I dream that all my teeth fall out all the time! It's horrible. The feeling that you can't do anything about it at all, and that you're losing something important.

      I like that about Willow, Xander and Cordelia's fears as well. In many ways they are all still just children, Buffy has been a slayer for a while and being a slayer means she have to grow up.

      Gung'f npghnyyl bar bs gur guvatf V ybir va yngre frnfbaf naq gung V erzrzore abj juvyr er-jngpuvat, gur punenpgref unir tebja fb zhpu, naq bire gur fcna bs gur frevrf gurl unir orpbzr nqhygf. V ybir ubj zhpu punenpgre qrirybczrag Wbff svgf vagb gur frevrf.

    • pica_scribit says:

      I have the teeth dream, too, all the damn time. God, it's freaky! Maybe we grind our teeth in our sleep? I don't know. Maybe we're worried about our bodies falling apart in ways people can see and that can't be easily fixed?

      Weirdly, I don't have the test-I-haven't-studied-for dream. This is especially odd because I've actually had this happen to me in real life. I cut most of my history classes my junior year of high school, and one day I actually showed up, all virtuous, and the teacher asked me if I'd brought my blue book. I told her I had to go get it, and then … I just didn't come back. How bad is that?

    • WhiteEyedCat says:

      I have the teeth falling out dream too! From all of these replies I guess that it is pretty common. The weirdest part for me though is that dream!me is just really matter of fact about the whole thing, like "Oh no another tooth fell out, well I guess I'll have to put it into a jar with the others. Ew, this blood in my mouth is gross, i'm going to get some water."

    • UnstrungZero says:

      Chalk my up as another one with the teeth-falling-out dreams. They don't happen as often as they used to, but it's always HORRIBLE when they do. My teeth are my worst feature, I was never able to get braces because we didn't have insurance, and I didn't take good care of them when I was younger. So in the dreams, not only are my teeth falling out, but it's basically my worst feature MADE SO MUCH HORRIBLY WORSE, and also me terrified about how my Mom is going to BLAME ME. >.< The only plus is that there's never any pain when they come out, it's just like having a loose tooth when you're a kid. Except knowing one is NOT going to grow back in its place.

      I don't have the test dreams, but since I was sick a lot as a kid as well as feigning illness to get out of school to keep away from the bullies, and that I dropped out on my 16th birthday, my school dreams are usually that I don't even know my SCHEDULE, or where classes are, or what MONTH I was last there, or where my locker is, or what the combination is, and then eventually I realise "Oh my god, wait, I got my GED years ago, WHY AM I HERE." So I either try to just sneak off campus or go to the office to try to de-register.

      My worst nightmare, I actually physically felt myself die, and there was so much pain. D:

  19. hpfish13 says:

    The worst nightmare (that I haven't blocked out) involved spiders. I was in my grandmother's car with my whole family driving on the freeway. I was sitting in the front seat between the driver and the passenger seat (we had a teeny seat there at the time that only I could fit in). The cloth covering the ceiling of the car was gone, and in the middle of it, right above my head, was a hole about the size of a quarter. Suddenly a giant, black, hairy spider comes down out of the hole, hovering above my head. I lean as far over to the side as possible to avoid the spider, but it starts to move down further and I can't move far enough away.

    At this point I'm screaming and begging for us to pull over, but we are stuck in traffic and can't get over. Then two things happened in quick succession. First we went around a sharp curve and the spider, moved by centrifugal force, starts swinging towards me. Then more, smaller spiders start pouring out of the hole in the ceiling. They begin to fill up the car, there are so many of them. Finally, we start trying to pull over in order to get out of the car. But before we can do that and as the car is filling almost up to the top, I woke up.

    Needless to say, I did not go back to sleep that night.

    I've had many weird, disturbing dreams (where my older sister was chasing me all over town trying to kill me with a sword, where a shark appeared in the pool and I had to rescue my little sister, and my favorite, where I got locked up on a cage on a wall for stealing a ferret–which I had not done–one cage away from the Dan Rad, Emma, Rupert and Tom Felton who thought they were actually the characters and were trying to kill each other)

    I love this episode, it's such a wonderful blend of truly horrifying, with a few rather funny moments.

  20. Delta1212 says:

    I don't have nightmares much anymore. It's a once a year occurrence if that, and I tend to remember my dreams pretty well. I have had some dreams that should probably be considered nightmares, but they wind up being more like horror films: more entertaining than scary.

    When I did have nightmares, it was mostly school-related, and those plus the occasional social anxiety one are where my infrequent nightmares still tend to go. I've totally had that history class nightmare of Buffy's where I realize there's one class in my schedule that I completely forgot about and haven't attended any classes for, and it's the end of the semester and not only do I have a final test or project that I'm completely unprepared for, but I've probably already failed the class by missing it every day.

    • Fuchsia says:

      I *still* have that nightmare about class and I haven't been in school for years. But then I wake up, realize I have my degree (thousands of dollars of student debt) and am still unemployed and I think, "Hey, this is the actual nightmare."

      • misterbernie says:

        I still have that dream, too. And specifically high-school exams, not later exams (though sometimes they feature my former profs in a high-school setting, weirdly enough).

        I can't remember having this kind of dream pre-graduation, though.

    • bookworm67 says:

      Guh, I'm still in school and I have those. The worst is the kind I get the night before I know I have to do something tomorrow (like a presentation, test, etc) – in my dream I get it over with and it goes surprisingly well, then I wake up and realize I still have to do it! Retroactive nightmare?

      • UnstrungZero says:

        That happens to me, too. If I have an appointment or something specific scheduled, I'll dream about doing it, sometimes it goes well, or sometimes it goes HORRIBLY, and then I have to wake up and still have to handle it either way. >.< BOO.

  21. egao-gakari says:

    Whee! I wish I'd had a chance to post yesterday, because "The Puppet Show" is where this show started to get irrevocably awesome to me. "Nightmares" cemented it. I think the scariest scene for me was definitely when Buffy and Billy were trying to run from the ugly man AND HE JUST KEPT FINDING THEM even though he doesn't look that smart. I've had nightmares where I'm being chased and just can't escape, and it is NOT FUN. Although I have to admit I don't have nightmares often. I think I can count on one hand the ones that I actually remember. The scariest one I've ever had was definitely of a terror attack on my community–once again, being chased (by people with SCARY BIG GUNS) and unable to escape, with the additional horror of seeing my mother chopped into little pieces with machetes, and the knowledge that my best friend's grandma had a magic bullet-repelling lotion, but she was only giving it to her own family members. In the end I got shot in the back and my consciousness switched into my brother's body briefly, and then I finally woke up. *shudder* still get tears in my eyes when I think about that dream.

    My mom has had a recurring nightmare since age nine, of being stuck still as a tsunami approaches. (SPOILERS for Lord of the Rings) Gur jnl fur qrfpevorf vg znxrf zr guvax bs Rbjla'f qernz va… jryy va gur zbivrf vg jnf V guvax gur rkgraqrq rqvgvba bs Erghea bs gur Xvat, znlor? Whfg fgnaqvat gurer jngpuvat rirelguvat fur ybirf trg fjrcg njnl naq xabjvat vg'f hfryrff gb eha. She hasn't had it in a few years now though, not since we left my dad. 😐

  22. Genny_ says:

    I so rarely recall my dreams, and when I do they're usually mundane, so the concept of a recurring nightmare is just ungodly horrible to me. I *have* had a couple examples of (extremely indescribably surreal) individual nightmares that screwed me up before, and the concept of reliving them even once more is just… ugh ugh ugh.

    This is definitely one of my favourite episodes in series one. The tone is just set so well, and I know it's done quite frequently, but I love the core concept of dreams spilling over into reality. The way everyone's shifting fears overlap and interact with one another works so well, and of course it all has the added benefit of giving us some insight into how these characters tick.

    The scene between Buffy and her Dad where her fear is realized is a scene that just destroys me, too. I don't know, I just… imagining hearing that, no workaround, no implication, just absolutely completely upfront and blunt and almost cheerful- gah, what a horrible, horrible concept.

  23. arctic_hare says:

    Here is a hug for you, Mark!

    <img src=""/&gt;

    😀 I'm really glad you love this episode, Mark, BECAUSE SO DO I. I love how creepy it is, that scene with Buffy's father telling her that she was the reason he and her mom split up was heartbreaking, and some stuff was just plain hilarious to me. I'm sorry, I can't help but laugh at Xander and Cordelia's nightmares, and that one random tough guy whose mom shows up. DON'T JUDGE ME.

    I've never had a recurring nightmare, myself. Weird recurring dreams, sure, but no recurring nightmares.

  24. IceBlueRose says:

    I admit, awhile ago I figured out which episode would be watched on which day and when I realized that Nightmares was going to be today, I was excited, lol! V jnf nyfb ernyyl rkpvgrq jura V ernyvmrq gung arkg jrrx jbhyq raq jvgu Fpubby Uneq. Uryyb, Fcvxr naq Qeh, V ubcr Znex svaqf lbh gjb njrfbzr! Terng jnl gb raq gur lrne. :Q

    I love this episode and I should probably have more to say but I really don't. It'll just end up being reasons why I enjoyed the episode. Just like the fact that Xander is also scared of clowns (I don't blame him! I don't know what my cousin and I were thinking, watching IT when we were 5 or 6. No wonder we ended up barricading ourselves in his room afterwards.) and that scene with Buffy and her dad kills me each time. So well done.

    Basically this episode is awesome and I'm glad you loved it! 😀

  25. Sosa says:

    It's interesting that only Buffy and Xander were able to face their fears in this episode.

    Buffy: I just can't believe a kiddie league coach would do something
    like that.

    Xander: Well, you obviously haven't played kiddie league. I'm surprised
    it wasn't one of the parents.

    This quote makes me believe that Xander had played kiddie league and was beaten up by his father for not doing so well.

    • Aslee says:

      If you think about it, that would explain some of the problems he has with not taking Buffy's slayerness (not a word) as an affront to his masculinity. Perhaps his father drilled in his head some of the sexism (would that be the correct term?) from him. It happens a lot where I'm from.

      Note that I said 'explain', not 'excuse'… Though, perhaps, with time, the girls could cure him of it and we wouldn't have to worry about not liking him again?

      • Sosa says:

        Perhaps, but Xander is a 16 year old boy who dislikes himself because of social constructs of masculinity. Society pressures Xander to be macho, an athlete, have sex at an early age, all things that are not Xander. He's drawn to the gender norms and doesn't want to laughed at or belittled because he doesn't meet the high expectations demanded from guys.

        So, I think Xander's lack of confidence, which can be a result of an abusive childhood as well as being bullied in school, is a big reason of his ill behavior, not just to women, but even to the men around him.

    • Stephanie says:

      I thought that for a minute, and then I remembered going to my brother's baseball games when we were little. There was one parent that got kicked out of literally every single game by the umpire. Then he would go to the parking lot and honk his horn if something happened in the game that he didn't approve of. A lot of the parents get pretty intense about it. I think the writer was probably just poking fun at the way some parents get way too into it.

    • Sosa says:

      Ur perrcrq zr bhg n ybg va Knaqre'f qernz va Erfgyrff.

  26. I'm a pretty serious dreamer: three or four long, memorable, full-color, SenSurround extravaganzas a night. Which makes the nightmares only worse. Oh, well. The bad with the good, right?

    Thanks for sharing your nightmare with us, Mark. Mine was… similar, maybe? I walk down the basement stairs of my childhood home. It smells of must and fresh laundry from the nearby washer and dryer, over which a single naked bulb is shining. I glance up the stairs to see our dog, a big friendly golden retriever, waiting at the top. He starts barking and growling. I turn back, and my father plunges a knife into my heart. I fall to the floor, choking on blood, and after a few minutes, I die.

    Years of that. Thank God for therapy. Stupid brains. 🙁

    • UnstrungZero says:

      My Mom calls them "Movie of the Week" dreams, I get them, too. I either don't remember, remember a vague snippet, or it's LIKE THAT. :\

      God, I can't even imagine a dream like that. D:

  27. Seventh_Star says:

    i will go on the record stating that i love episodes about dreams. you get to know the characters better by being privy to what's inside the deepest recesses of their minds. not to get too heavy but YEAH. you've gone on little adventures with these characters, and gotten to know them pretty well, but this is the moment in the first series when we really delve into their insecurities.

    i've discovered just how much i like making lists. so, thoughts:

    1. i find it to be very amusing that when buffy walks in on giles, who is freaking out because he is suddenly unable to read, she says, "what's the word?" PERFECT.

    2. the song that willow is being forced to sing is the song that jake fratelli is singing in the goonies.

    3. buffy in vamp face! it really got me thinking. has there ever been a slayer that was turned into a vampire? when this popped into my head last night i wondered why it had never occurred to me before! would she retain her slayer strength and be a SUPER VAMPIRE? has there ever been a vampire that thought to itself, "if i turn the slayer, wouldn't i be creating a POWERFUL FORCE FOR EVIL?" these are things that i think.

    4. trggvat gb frr ohssl evfr bhg bs ure tenir vf fbzr cbjreshy sberfunqbjvat sbe frnfba 6 gung fheryl pbhyqa'g unir orra cynaarq gung sne va nqinapr. tvirf zr puvyyf!

    • NB2000 says:

      Rot-13ing, just in case, spoilers for some of the tie-in media for this show.

      Gurer jrer n srj Fynlref ghearq vagb inzcverf va gur fcva-bss obbxf/pbzvpf. Gurer jnf bar va bar bs gur Gnyrf bs gur Fynlre abiryf, V jnag gb fnl fur jnf Trezna ohg V znl or zvfgnxra, vg'f orra n juvyr fvapr V ernq vg. Gur bgure bar V erzrzore vf sebz gur Snyfr Zrzbevrf pbzvp juvpu unf gur Fynlre va dhrfgvba "fheivivat" ybat rabhtu gb pbzr gb Fhaalqnyr nebhaq frnfba svir.

    • James says:

      it really got me thinking. has there ever been a slayer that was turned into a vampire?
      Rot13ing because of speculation involving later canon: V guvax gung'f gur xvaq bs guvat Natryhf jbhyq qb. Cbffvoyl jung ur jbhyq'ir qbar gb Ohssl, vs ur'q unq gur punapr. Yvxr jung ur qvq gb Qeh, ohg jvgu n Fynlre vafgrnq bs n Frre.

      …Zna, V jnag gung NH abj!

    • @Ivana2804 says:

      "3. buffy in vamp face! it really got me thinking. has there ever been a slayer that was turned into a vampire? when this popped into my head last night i wondered why it had never occurred to me before! would she retain her slayer strength and be a SUPER VAMPIRE? has there ever been a vampire that thought to itself, "if i turn the slayer, wouldn't i be creating a POWERFUL FORCE FOR EVIL?" these are things that i think. "

      That was what Natryhf gevrq gb qb gb Snvgu va NgF frnfba 4.

    • ladysugarquill says:

      V ernq Wbff jnf nyernql cynaavat gb ghea Jvyybj rivy, naq gubfr yvarf jrer vagragvbany sberfunqbjvat. Don't know if it's true, though XD

  28. Karen says:

    To me this episode feels more like an episode of The Twilight Zone or Are You Afraid of the Dark? than an episode of Buffy. I mean, it’s not a BAD episode, but the vibe just seems somehow less Buffy-ish than other episodes.

    I guess I think all creepy kids look the same because I spent the longest time to figure out why the Anointed One was giving people nightmares. Idk. The plot just doesn’t do much for me. It’s alright, but meh. Maybe it’s just because I’m the kind of person who doesn’t remember her dreams, so the idea of nightmares coming true doesn’t get to me since I don’t have any recurring nightmares. This episode also throws a lot of common fears at the audience, but none of them affect me either. I’m not afraid of spiders or performing in front of people or clowns or anything like that, so…. Idk. This is not an episode I look forward to on rewatches.

    Cbbe Ohssl orvat nsenvq bs orvat ohevrq nyvir jura gung npghnyyl fbeg bs unccraf gb ure yngre, jura fur jnxrf hc va ure pbssva va “Onetnvavat”. Naq nf V zragvbarq lrfgreqnl Jvyybj’f fgntr sevtug pbzrf onpx va “Erfgyrff”.

    • Fuchsia says:

      "I guess I think all creepy kids look the same because I spent the longest time to figure out why the Anointed One was giving people nightmares."

      Me too, and I thought both of them were being played by Asa Butterfield until I realized that this was at *least* ten years too early for him…

      • @farwell3d says:

        So glad I'm not the only one that can't tell them apart. I like the episode, but did they really need to cast a kid with the same hair color, skin tone, and hair cut as the one playing The Anointed One?

  29. monkeybutter says:

    Yay, I love this one, too! It examines common fears that just about everyone can relate to, and reveals a lot about our characters (Buffy and her dad were so hard to watch), while showing the power of the subconscious mind to do serious harm. (Future MW project: Vg erzvaqf zr bs Cnenabvn Ntrag, naq tbq, V'z fb rkpvgrq sbe Znex gb jngpu vg, orpnhfr abj V V guvax ur'yy or ernyyl vagb vg. Nuuuu fb znal tbbq cebwrpgf va gur shgher!)

    I usually can't remember my dreams, but there's been at least one nightmare where I was roundly shamed for spoiling you for ATLA. So, there's weird anxiety for you. I did have a nightmare last week where I woke up (in the dream) and found myself covered in camel crickets–their legs are so gross–that I thought had come in through a somehow-broken window. And while thrashing around to GET THEM OFF OF ME, I notice this huge cicada-shell-like carapace attached to the blanket on my shoulder, and realize that they've all burst from this thing like it was a chitinous Trojan cricket. And then I woke up.

    So, what I'm trying to say is, I admire how they mostly manage to keep it together in this episode, because if this shit happened to me, I would burn the world down.

    • tornflames says:

      I used to have a lot of dreams where I woke up to something, too. It tended to vary based on whether there were people in the house with me when I went to sleep; when I was a kid, it was more likely to be something like a snarling wild animal, and when I moved into my first apartment, it was usually a case of my childhood abuser having found out my new address and already being in the room.

      Whatever it was, I was usually unable to move or speak either, so when I finally did wake up, I'd already have been sitting in bed SCREAMING BLOODY MURDER for God knows how long.

      Actually, I always was a bit weirded out none of my neighbors ever freaked out and called the cops. I probably would've!

  30. Aslee says:

    Not my usual comment, but:

    Poor Buffy. Ugh. My parents have been divorced for as long as I can remember, and though I was 'planned', the timeline does make it seem like it was my birth that made their marriage fail. I mean, I doubt it was completely my fault, but I certainly didn't help.

    When I was five, my step-dad's mother told me I was the reason my father hated my mother, and that no one loved me. because who could love a kid that ruined their marriage? Or, even worse, a kid that wasn't even theirs? And then she went on, but it's not really relevant. The point is, it doesn't matter how old I get, or how long I think about it, there's still a part of me that thinks it's all my fault, and it's seriously the worst guilt I've ever felt.

    There's no way to fix it. I mean, how could you?

    (Actually, I recant my previous statement. The WORST guilt is knowing that your mother married a horrible man without thinking or knowing because she wanted to take care of you.)

    Also: Poor Giles. This has long since been a fear of mine, losing my intelligence.

    It's not so much the inability to think that scares me, no, it's… It's waking up, and remembering being different, remembering when your brain could do all these amazing things, and how the words used to flow, or how you could do math in your head, or memorize music, or any number of things. What scares me is waking up, remembering you were once extraordinary and only being average.

    Can you imagine? If we, who, as a collective, feast upon knowledge, even falsified and fantastical, woke up unable to process symbolism, or theme, or morals. What if we woke up and all we had in our heads was inane thoughts of nothing but the world we see before us, even though we can remember a different one, one that was always changing in our heads, because we COULD change it, because the more we learn, the better you can see everything around you. But you can't anymore.

    That is my worst fear.

    ((AND NOW MY WHINGING IS OVER. Sorry about that. :P))

    • ghostofdurruti says:

      This is kind of random, but have you ever read the short story Flowers for Algernon? It involves a scenario that's pretty similar to what you've just described.

      • Aslee says:

        No… it sounds interesting- I'll probably look it up -but now I'm a bit nervous that I'll read it and go quite mad.

    • drippingmercury says:

      I don't even have to imagine your worst fear because I pretty much lived through it. In my teens I took a medicine for my bipolar disorder that DID EXACTLY THAT and you are absolutely correct about how awful this feels. After being on this med for a while I could just tell that I wasn't as smart; I couldn't think as quickly or as clearly and I would get so frustrated for not knowing the things I knew I used to know, for not grasping the things I should have been able to understand. Worst of all, the medication was actually very effective. Some ten years later, the time I was on topamax (AKA dope-a-max because the "cognitive blunting" side effect is so common) is still when my mood disorder was most manageable. I literally had to choose between intelligence and mental health and it was so goddamn awful. I quit taking it, obviously, and fortunately the effect wasn't permanent, but if you should need medication for a seizure or mood disorder, I would not recommend topamax/topiramate unless there is no other viable option.

    • Liza says:

      This is actually a fear of mine as well. My family values intelligence very highly (I started law school this fall….last person in my family to get a post-graduate degree, including all my aunts, uncles, and my sister), and though I am smart, I'm not as smart as the smartest in my family. It's always been a fear that this would disappear and my family would find me (for lack of a better word) useless. Fears are a weird thing.

  31. Shanna says:

    I had recurring nightmares when I was little, but none of them had much lasting impact on me. The one nightmare that I had ONCE in grade 9 though, that one was visceral and terrifying and affected me in my waking hours. I had a grade 9 Geography teacher who was a nice enough guy – maybe mid-30s with blond wavy hair. He liked me because I was a good student and was very good in geography. We had no relationship beyond the one in class. One night in the middle of the semester I had a dream that he was chasing me down a hallway of the school @ night. No one else was there. He had a big knife and in the end he caught me, raped me (yeah…) And stabbed me. Great dream!!! *sarcasm* So the next day at school I was pretty much shaking in fright – almost to the point where I couln’t make myself go to class (but I did bc of the good student thing). For the remainder of the semester I was TERRIFIED of this guy. And it’s not like he started to ignore me – I was still called upon in class and whatever. But yeah, even though I knew it was a dream and NOT REAL, I couldn’t shake the feeling of abject terror. I still did well in the class though!

  32. Stephen_M says:

    Just to add a couple of brief bits:

    1) Buffy's first proper big damn hero moment in my view is her "and I'm one of them" line. Beautifully done, great "oh hell yeah" reaction and also ties into the plot very nicely.

    2) Why yes, Joss creates does indeed create nightmare fuel with ease. Second only to the Moff IMO, lord help us if those two ever collaborate on something…

  33. Delta1212 says:

    I had a nightmare that it was Friday and I'd already watched the next episode so it was going to be days before I got to see the commentary on it or watch another one.


  34. knut_knut says:

    WHY DID NO ONE WARN ME THERE WOULD BE AN EPISODE WITH SPIDERS AND CLOWNS!!! I’m terrified of clowns on a good day, but I’m also in the middle of reading IT and I’m already dreaming of Pennywise the Dancing Clown asking me if I’d like to ~float~ I DON’T NEED MORE CLOWNS!

    AND THE SPIDERS! Spiders are the MOST TERRIBLE things ever, and I’m sorry, Wendell, but if I was your brother I would have burninated those fuckers too. And then burnt down the house, the town, and maybe even the whole county just in case.

    I was pleasantly surprised to see Buffy’s dad…until everything became terrible and my heart broke into a million pieces. Before this episode, I never realized it was just Buffy and her mom. I guess Joyce is just too awesome?

    • cait0716 says:


      Because spoilers. ::evil laugh::

      Joyce is the most awesome TV mom ever. She does a really good job of juggling single mom with successful business owner

      • knut_knut says:

        I think there should be an exception to the spoiler policy if the episode involves spiders and/or clowns.

  35. Ryan Lohner says:

    Either SMG dubbed all her lines in the final scene, or she's just that good at enunciation, as there's no trace of difficulty in her talking with those vampire teeth, like everyone else has.

    My favorite bit is the little "mm-hm" the opera guy gives Willow when she asks if it's her turn.

  36. notemily says:


    Right, so the reason I never re-watch this episode is that the scene with Buffy and Hank is too painful. I just can't stand it. 🙁 🙁 🙁

    "The midnight-blue angora!" Sorry, I don't buy that Xander knows fabrics. Or uses terms for colors that are more than one word long.

    I like the scene with the tarantulas because you think it's the dude's phobia, but then you find out he actually feels guilty for what happened to his pet spiders. Subversion!

    "Jung qb gurl arrq nyy gubfr yrtf sbe naljnl?" Rpubrf bs gur zhfvpny, nalbar?

    The kid causing the nightmares looks SO familiar to me, but he hasn't been in much after this. Apparently he's Steve Guttenberg's nephew, though, so there's that. I think maybe he just looks like a wee Joseph Gordon-Levitt.

    LOL "Smoking Kills."

    The guy whose mom shows up is credited as "Way Cool Guy." His mom is, of course, "Cool Guy's Mom."

    Now Buffy is talking to her dad. Oh I can't even deal with this scene. Like, some of the nightmare stuff is kind of funny (Xander being naked) or legitimately creepy (Giles not being able to read), but this is just… AWFUL. AWFUL. When he says she's getting too emotional about the conversation because she's crying, I just want to claw his face off. I have to wonder if Hank Summers actually experienced saying these horrible things, or if he had no memory of it at all. My roommate's theory is that he remembers it, he's just in denial, like everyone in Sunnydale always is about these things.

    I LOVE that swastikas are painted on the wall when Xander is having his clown nightmare. He really is scared of Nazis!

    Awww, Buffy's death is Giles's nightmare 🙁 🙁 🙁

    I admit I have wondered many times what would happen if a slayer were turned into a vampire. Would she have SUPER-super-strength?

    I had to ask my roommate what happened, but apparently what Billy does at the end is take off the ugly man's mask. He has to face his fear before he can wake up. And it turns out to be his abusive coach. What an asshole.

    "And you were there…" Hee hee.

    Okay, so, if we're talking about nightmares: I have a few recurring ones. I never have the didn't-study-for-a-test, but I have dreams that it's the very last day of college and I have to be out of my dorm by a certain time and NONE OF MY STUFF IS PACKED. I also have dreams that I'm at work and it's time to close the library and NOBODY WILL LEAVE and I have to stay for hours past my shift ending. But those are kind of run-of-the-mill anxiety dreams. The really awful dreams I have involve people telling me they hate me, usually my parents or close friends. So maybe that's why Buffy's conversation with Hank hits me so hard in this ep–I have similar dreams myself, they're just not about divorce.

    I had to laugh at your worst-vegan-ever nightmare, Mark. You're so vegan even your DREAMS are ashamed of breaking vegan edge!

    • knut_knut says:

      I was CONVINCED the kid was JGL until I realized that unless he has the ability to time travel, it’s not him 🙁

      Haha, I’ve had the Forgot to Pack dream before and, of course, it was one of the ones that was super realistic so that I woke up at 3am going I HAVE TO PAAAAAAAACK!!!! before realizing it was just a dream.

      • cait0716 says:

        I hate those super realistic dreams. They make me feel like I missed out on sleep.

        The worst is when I'll dream my entire morning routine. From the alarm going off to showering and getting dressed to eating breakfast. Then my alarm actually does go off and I'm all "NO! I just did this!"

        • notemily says:

          "I hate dreaming, because when you wanna sleep, you wanna sleep. Dreaming is work, you know? Like there I am, laying in my comfortable bed in my hotel room… next thing I know, I have to build a go-kart with my ex-landlord." – Mitch Hedberg

        • knut_knut says:

          NOOO that's so annoying! I always get confused and start talking about events that happened in my dreams before I realize they didn't actually happen 🙁

    • arctic_hare says:

      I think maybe he just looks like a wee Joseph Gordon-Levitt.

      I think so too! And every time I rewatch this episode, I ALWAYS fast-forward through the scene with Buffy and her dad. I just can't. Too sad.

    • James says:

      He really is scared of Nazis!

      First time I watched this and saw the swastikas, I was like "they're not seriously going to have Nazis crawl over his face are they?"

  37. laurel says:

    This is seriously one of my favorites, but not quite one of the episodes that make me ugly!cry. And there's a surprisingly long list of those. But I know that part of SMG's performance when she's being buried alive isn't really acting on her part: she has a genuine fear of it and that makes Joss and Co. far more evil when they're like "and now we're going to bury you alive." It's like if someone put me on a cliff and said "now we're going to shove you off multiple times until we get the right shot." Hell, even if they just put me up too high on bleachers. I do not do heights. At all. Ever. (Somewhat unrelated: I went to Disney World my senior year of high school and my best friend made me get on the Tower of Terror. Apparently she thinks if I go high often enough I'll get over it. Same thing with escalators. I love her but jeez. That's like me saying "Okay now I'm going to cover you in spiders until you're not afraid of them anymore You're welcome.") Cool story, bro.

  38. Beri says:

    I am not a fan of this episode, so I was definitely surprised to read it was your favourite episode of the season.

    The main reason I don't like this episode is because it doesn't feel like an episode of Buffy to me – it is so detached from the events and the relationships of the season that I cannot get on board with it.

    While it is interesting seeing what fears the characters have, I found it to be a strange compilation of scenes. I don't enjoy watching a bunch of events that are not actually happening and have no tangible outcomes for the characters, besides scaring them half to death.

  39. robin says:

    This is not one of my favorites from S1 but I think it holds up pretty well. I just wish the writers had really gone for the jugular and used the opportunity to do some major character exploration on all sides.

    The nightmare come to life between Buffy and her father is chilling, because as surreal his speech is you just know that every word is something that's been humming under Buffy's skin — all of her inner, secret certainties about why her parents split and her father left that completely belie that positive front she had been spinning to Willow.

    Cyhf, xabjvat ur'f tbvat gb onvy bhg ba ure va gur shgher tvirf guvf fhocybg va gur rcvfbqr rkgen jrvtug.

    Npghnyyl, vg'f vagrerfgvat gb abgr ubj znal bs gurfr avtugznerf orpnzr gehr:
    * Ohssl'f sngure tbrf NJBY
    * Tvyrf qbrf unir gb ohel Ohssl
    * Ohssl evfrf sebz ure tenir
    * Pbeqryvn qbrf ybfr ure fbpvny fgnghf (naq fbpvny cbfvgvba nxn jrnygu)

    Willow teasing Xander about still being attracted to vampire!Buffy = A+

    Giles' nightmare being Buffy's grave = A++

    I'm really disappointed with what they did with Cordelia in this episode, though. It would have been the perfect vehicle to start fleshing her out and give a bit of interests and fears that have nothing to do with "popularity" and fashion, but the writers chose to continue with simplistic characterization.

    I would have liked to see some more in depth nightmares from Willow as well. Vg jbhyq unir orra rfcrpvnyyl njrfbzr vs jr pbhyq unir frra fbzr srnef naq vafrphevgvrf gung jr pbhyq yngre gvr vagb ure pbageby vffhrf jvgu zntvp.

    • todd says:

      Well, Cordelia's all about image, right? As we've seen in the last ten episodes she relies very heavily on her social standing and appearance. Take that away and she's probably lost as a person. How else would she define herself? How would she function in the heirarchy of high school? I think her dreams are really surface-y on the, well, surface, but they probably mean more if you look a bit closer. But I agree, only one nightmare from Willow, and it's about stage fright/public shame? They didn't do a lot with her in this episode.

      • robin says:

        You have some good points here.. and I do see how Cordelia's nightmares function as some light comic relief to set against some of the darker fantasies.

  40. Time-Machine says:

    I used to have recurring nightmares about not being able to read. Not so much that I'd lose the ability, but that the things I read would shift themselves so I could no longer read them. I'd turn a page and it'd be blank, or the text would get smaller and smaller or fade out and I couldn't ever read anything again because everything I tried to read would escape from me and I was left with no books and no newspapers and all panic and sadness.

    So every time I see Giles' quiet panic in this episode MY HEART IS ALL RENDED AND I AM SO FRIGHTENED WITH HIM.

    I understand how scary it is, Giles! I understand. It is terrifying. I wish I could hug you.

    • enigmaticagentscully says:

      I've never had nightmares of that kind, but watching this episode I found that was easily the most terrifying thing in it. I'm not even sure why, but just to lose something so fundamental to who you are so suddenly…the idea of being able to see the word and them simply not making sense to you any more is SO scary.

      I think maybe it's because I always saw our ability to read (as in, to look at certain shapes and gain a specific meaning from them that was intended by the person who created them) as kind of magical and amazing to start with, I always suspected it might just be taken away again.

  41. This episode makes me want a hug too, mostly because I had nightmares as a kid that were very similar to Billy's. But instead of a baseball coach, it was my own dad chasing me. When I was a kid, my dad's proffered method of punishment was hitting us with his belt, and from the time we were about five to roughly 12 or 13, it was not at all uncommon for us to run screaming until he finally backed u into a corner, and….yeah. So, I had a lot of nightmares about my dad chasing me with huge belts and yelling at me. When I saw this episode a few years ago, there was a very "no, no stop it I don't want to see this!" reaction. It is a very good episode though and it definitely handles "abused child causing supernatural problems in the real world" a hell of a lot better than "Fear Her". I enjoy getting to see what each of the main cast members fears the most, even if Buffy's fears are very sad and even hard to watch. And watching the episode again, I find it much easier to handle the scenes with Billy's nightmare now that my dad is much calmer we actually get along quite well, so I'm able to appreciate what it does a lot better than I did back then.

    Also, fun fact: Sarah Michelle Gellar also has a fear of being buried alive like Buffy.

  42. echinodermata says:

    I don't get what I'd call nightmares, but I have plenty of unsettling dreams, and the majority of them involve school in some way. So Buffy, I feel you. And I love that she fights monsters but that not all her nightmares are about that. And wow I totally want to punch her nightmare-father.

    And I do generally like Cordelia – I think she's funny – but I felt for her in her nightmare, too. I'm no stranger to self-esteem issues, and the crux of Cordelia's nightmare was how other people perceive her – it made me feel sorry for her cause that sort of fear tends to be a constant thing in my experience. I assume from this that she worries about not being popular, and honestly, I figure that'd be pretty draining. Don't get me wrong, the nightmare specifically being that she's becomes a "geek" is eye-roll inducing, but the underlying issues I can pity.

    Anyway, random gif:
    <img src="; alt="Buffy rolling her eyes">

  43. James says:

    That fucking clown *SHUDDER* You know, I think the bit where he punches it in the face is what made me love Xander so much when I first watched this series! I mean, I still love Xander, I just have my problems with him, too. But that's not important right now!

    God, I'd forgotten the bit where Buffy gets buried alive. I remembered vampire!Buffy, just not that bit. Juvpu, bu tbq, vf fb zhpu zber ubeevslvat jura lbh'ir frra frnfba fvk. V arneyl pevrq jngpuvat gung. Cbbe Ohssl!

  44. Smurphy says:

    OOH. I have a lot of random shit to talk about today. So I apologize for this being longer and more rambling than usual.

    FIRST. My childhood nightmare. I was in a maze, which I loved and still loved mazes but this one was tall and very mechanical. Like we were in a warehouse or something and I could hear my parents and my sisters voices and they were screaming and I knew they were in trouble and I needed to find him… but when I started to look for them the entire maze started flooding. So now not only did I need to find them but I only had so much time to find them BEFORE I DROWNED along with my family… I never found them.

    I also woke up and was convinced I was a fish one time… I think it was actually a variation of that nightmare. My dad had to pick me up and carry me to a mirror to prove to me that I hadn't turned into a fish… idk… it was weird.

    Next thing. Point of annoyance: I don't know if its the quality of the video or something with my laptop or what but this show is so DARK. I can't see the majority of the action on the screen half the time.

    Last tidbit before I talk about the actual episode: The beginning bit of this is (part) of the basis of a fanfic I wrote about this show (nzbat znal znal bgure ohssl rcvfbqrf)… I have been trying to find it (NOT THAT MARK CAN READ IT YET) because I know its somewhere online but I just can't. I based it on the idea that Buffy's parents did break up because of her slaying. So she was still in LA and still a cheerleader and popular and etc and etc and her parents were still together BUT she had the memories of sunnydale and her friends too and I really enjoyed writing it even if it wasn't the greatest bit of literature ever. OH and it all started with a creepy girl she met in a dream who sang a song about turning back time… and of course the first chapter she goes and complains to giles about the girl and he starts researching it and the next night she goes to sleep and the creepy girl asks her would she turn back time and (guvf vf yngre va gur frnfba naq orpnhfr bs gur ybff bs ure crbcyr naq riragf naq n abezny grrantr/pbyyrtr yvsr) she says yes…. it was fun. I never concluded it. Not a very good storyteller. But it was fun. Nabgure bs zl snibevgr cnegf: Fur jnxrf hc naq ortvaf ernyvmvat jurer fur vf naq jung unccrarq naq fur cnavpf orpnhfr ab fynlvat naq rgp jbhyq nyfb zrna ab Qnja ohg fur vf gurer. Qrfcvgr vg nyy fur qbrf unir n fvfgre… V qba'g xabj jul V qvq gung… unqa'g tvira vg n ernfba lrg… V whfg thrff V pna'g vzntvar ybfvat zl fvfgref naq V qvqa'g jnag Ohssl gb rkcrevrapr gung.

    V jnf arire n ovt pbeql/natry sna naq unir nyjnlf naq jvyy nyjnlf or n Knaqre/Pbeql fuvccre.

    An episode about fear… *imagining mark's response*…. mmm…. yep. *and I was right*


    I actually forgot why exactly this was the inspiration for that fanfic until the scene where he actually said it… I think this is some great acting by Sarah Michelle Gellar and it just makes me so sad and I want to give her all the hugs(haven't said that in awhile…)

    "dreams, that would be a musical comedy version of this"… and I thought of Glee… I'M SORRY I LIKE IT AND IT IS ALL MY DREAMS.

    The ugly man=greatest bad guy name ever?

    It'd probably be faster if we split up to look for her" "Good idea" "Faster but not really safer" WAY TO BE AGAINST DYING LIKE A SCARY MOVIE VICTIM. I approve.

    ….I <3 opera and that entire scene was brilliant.

    …but then I HATE CLOWNS MORE THEN ANYTHING. I blame the movie "It" and THIS SCENE IS NOT OKAY.


    I love Xander: "You're a lousy clown. Your balloon clowns were pathetic. Everyone can make a giraffe." <3 FOREVER.

    "Whose nightmare is this?" "It's mine." I lied… I want to give Giles all the hugs.

    … this was just such a great great episode.

    I love Buffy.

  45. Partes says:

    Billy: "I had the strangest dream, and you were in it, and you…who are you people?"

    This made me laugh. Alot.

    One thing I love about Buffy is the impressive ability of the show to weave humour into incredibly dangerous and scary situations and never have it seem out of character or place. Especially because when it's done wrong it can seem really, really cheesy and ham-fisted, robbing the scene from any terror or comedy.

    <img src="; alt="some_text"/>

    When I first saw this episode I remember being creeped out by the kid, but not a lot else stuck with me outside of that I remember Xander being pretty funny. Except this. Yikes.

    Also, the end of the season is coming. I feel like I should have canned evil laughter. So not prepared.

  46. Raenef_the_5th says:

    I love that Willow's stage-fright nightmare comes soon after her performance after the talent show.

    Hey, let's all talk about nightmares! My most memorable is from age… 1 or 2… I'm watching KERMIT THE FROG on TV in his reporter outfit as he's about to go into a cave when I realize the monster in the cave would be totally coming out of the TV. So I run into my parents room, but then a human-shaped thing surrounded in light and lightning enters the room.

    Then I had one this morning about a haunted elevator and people were making an amateur documentary of it (not believing it was haunted) but it starts killing them off one by one in various gory ways.

    Fun times…. >:(

  47. The_Consultant says:

    What I liked most about this episode was not just seeing what all the characters were afraid of but all the small touches that were so true to how dreams work: Getting lost in a place you are usually familiar with, time suddenly jumping forward, trying to go somewhere but none of the doors lead where they are supposed to, we were at school but then suddenly were were in the graveyard, and it was night.

    I actually had a nightmare last night. It was one of my typical ones were I am supposed to be somewhere but I am late and someone is waiting for me and they will be angry/annoyed and I don't know how to get there and no one will help me and everything I try and do to get there faster seems to impede my progress. These are my most common type of nightmare along with 'my teeth are falling out' and 'I'm driving a car but it's stuck in reverse/I'm in the wrong seat/nothing I do actually influences how the car moves'. (My brain is not particularly original)

  48. Rim1789 says:

    This episode is SO great ^^ And Buffy is an awesome show! You will love it

  49. shoroko says:

    Most of my recurring nightmares are nothing too serious – I've had Buffy's one about somehow forgetting to go to a class for the ENTIRE SEMESTER and OMG THERE'S A TEST more times than I can count (and recently got a real life scare with that when I suddenly found out I'd been, without my knowledge, volunteered for a project, and before finding out how this had happened had spent half an hour freaking out wondering if I'd agreed to this and just forgotten), but despite that I knew it was coming, the scene with Buffy and her father (and how well-laid out it was before that, when we see just how anxious she is despite that she really tries to hide it) still left me pretty upset. THANKS A LOT, WHEDON.

    But I agree that it's the best episode of the season so far. For me, when I first started watching Buffy, it was one of the two things this season that really let me know I could probably get into this show. (… the other was the principal getting eaten in "The Pack." For some reason I found it simultaneously awful and hilarious, and therefore knew I could probably get along with Whedon in this. Yes I know I'm terrible.)

  50. enigmaticagentscully says:

    -Awww Buffy looks cute in pigtails
    -Wow she sure is useless in her dreams
    -I didn’t even think about her dad! Interesting.
    -Hey cool, are we gonna see everyone’s worst fears or something?
    -If there are wasps in this episode I am SO gone
    -I live a Joyce Summers appreciation life
    -Giles got lost in the stacks? Is his worst fear being a rubbish librarian?
    -Because that’s kind of amazing.
    -Oooooh horrible test Buffy knows none of the answers to! When that happened to me for reals once I faked sick and got outta there SO FAST.
    -I was such a good student they just believed it completely
    -Probably shouldn’t have admitted that
    -Wow, smoking really is bad for you! Wanna hammer that message home a little more?
    -This episode is reminding me a lot of the episode ‘X-Cops’ from ‘The X Files’ with the fear monster
    -LOL that dude’s fear is his mom coming in to school!
    -Oh god Giles! He can’t read, that is so fucking terrifying!
    -Seriously that is amazingly disturbing
    -Ohhh no Buffy’s dad is gonna break her heart isn’t he?
    -Please don’t do this
    -I don’t wanna watch this
    -Ok Cordelia is turning into a bit of a caricature at this point. Her worst nightmare is her hair being awful? Really?
    -Oh so at least the poor kid doesn’t mean to do it
    -Nononono don’t go down there Willow!
    -LOL did someone actually lure Xander with a line of chocolate bars?
    -Oh Willow
    -Wait did the Master just say ‘a dream is a wish your heart makes’? What, does he watch Disney movies while he’s trapped down there?
    -Oooh buried alive! That never scared me much for some reason
    -Oh my god, Giles’ nightmare is that Buffy dies? SOBBING.
    -I love you Giles
    -Forever my favourite
    -Ohhh my god nightmare hospital is the worst
    -I bet Doctors have the worst nightmares too
    -Kick his ass Buffy!
    -His coach beat him up because he lost a game? Damn.
    -Awwww her dad
    -Actually I respect Xander a little more for still liking Buffy even if her face was all vampire-y

    So this episode was kind of awesome too, if not the most original idea ever. I especially love the scene with Buffy and her dad – that was genuinely painful to watch. And Giles losing his ability to read, and being afraid of failing Buffy…so maybe it wasn’t a totally novel episode, but it was done very well for what it was. I feel like the show is really increasing in the quality of both acting and writing, despite the ever cheesy special effects.

    • James says:

      Her worst nightmare is her hair being awful? Really?
      Well, it's to do with how she's perceived by people. Her image is very important to her because it's tied in to her social status and popularity.

    • notemily says:

      -If there are wasps in this episode I am SO gone

      ahahaha, I cackled a little bit when I read that. I HATE wasps.

      • enigmaticagentscully says:

        UGH wasps. I'm glad they were only there for a few seconds at least!

        Just their little bulbous stripy bodies and hairy legs and stings and the BUZZING.

        • beckaboomer says:

          Joining in with the wasp hatred: my fear of all things that buzz has led me to horrifying and sometimes hilarious places. Like, for instance, the time I ran out of a classroom insisting there was a bee in my hair when in fact, it was actually a junebug. 🙁 I was terrified, though.

        • hpfish13 says:

          I would recommend not reading The Fairy Rebel by Lynne Reid Banks. The villains use wasps to attack people.

  51. t09yavosaur says:

    -She was sleeping with her window open again.
    -Tarantulas must be a godsend for the film industry, big enough to be extra terrifying but not actually dangerous to humans.
    -Worst Smoking Sign of Irony ever, show.
    -Please stop looking sad SMG
    -I want your nightmares Cordelia
    -Really Xander? Really?
    -Even Willow's nightmares are awesome.
    -Who dreamed up the random plastic curtains?
    -The zombie doctor is pretty hilarious.
    -I thought the scary man would be Billy's dad. I'm glad it wasn't, though it shouldn't have been anyone.

    Note: if this show were on the WB of today (aka the CW) this would not have been the first time this season we would have seen Xander shirtless.
    My nightmares are nowhere near as bad as Buffy's but I have had some pretty freaky dreams over the years, The weirdest being having a sword fight with my grandmother. My only nightmare that could be called reoccurring is a running dream as well. There are men in suits chasing me through various settings. I don't get tired, probably because I am already an asthmatic so my subconscious knows that wouldn't scare me, but I also cant stop. That is just a stress dream though and doesn't really bother me too much. The worst nightmare I have ever had was during my first week at college. I dreamt that there was a serial killer on campus and he killed my best friend. It freaked me out so bad and I couldn't even stand a glimpse of a crime show for months afterwords without being triggered.

  52. sporkaganza93 says:

    Bu zna, V xabj evtug! Cbbe Znex.

  53. sporkaganza93 says:

    This is my favorite first season episode. It's clever, funny, it's creepy, it's fucking heartwrenching (Buffy's nightmare about her father DESTROYED me, I was in tears), and most of all it's very insightful about what kind of nightmares people have and what that says about us.

    Oh, another sad moment? Giles's little speech when he sees Buffy's grave. NO GILES SHHHH ITS OK

  54. Dee says:

    I wish you were doing more than one a day, Mark, I love reading these so much!

  55. enigmaticagentscully says:

    My nightmares usually involve zombies, for some reason. Like, I dream about zombies a LOT.

    But I used to have one recurring nightmare which I called 'The Hanged Man Dream'. I always start out in this dark room, like a basement. It's carpeted so my feet make no sound on the floor. It's warm, underground somewhere, and utterly completely silent. There is only one soft light, illuminating a corpse, hanging from the ceiling rafters. I approach it slowly and just as I reach my hand out to touch it, the man jerks to life, spluttering and choking, his legs kicking and eyes bulging as he desperately tries to ask me to help him…and then I wake up.

  56. buyn says:

    Nightmares are something, that I know you're supposed to be scared of, but it's still abstract to me. I just don't have nightmares. Once, I watched nine episodes of Supernatural in a row right before going to bed. I dreamed of owning a taxi and giving a lesbian couple with too much luggage a ride. I'm understand irrational fears though, but I only have them during the waking hours. While I'm asleep, I can be anything, and I know that. So, for some reason, this episode wasn't that scary to me, other than it made all those irrational fears fall into place. But nightmares? I don't grok them.

  57. enigmaticagentscully says:

    Ok, now I feel like I'm seriously disturbed or something because everyone else seems to be talking about nightmares like 'not studying for a test oh noes' or 'scary man with a knife chasing me' and all my nightmares are like 'rotting corpses with intestines and flies' or 'skinned alive by tiny gnomes with pointy teeth' or wasps come pouring out of my mouth or 'everyone in the world suddenly gets these faces that are just like flesh coloured cones with tiny mouths at the end and I'm the only real human left'.

    Am I just more fucked up than I thought? Like…you guys get this stuff too, right?

    • @AnFaolain says:

      I know that feel. For two years or so my nightmares would be the same one involving a creepy guy at the end of the stairs that turns into a monster, penis people, being burned alive in acid and everything ending in darkness until some weird demon guy with a blue face asks if I'm afraid of the dark.

      Thank you Nickelodeon for being the source of my childhood terrors.

    • Time-Machine says:

      When I was four-six I used to have graphic and bloody dreams about my fingers falling off one at a time leaving stumps of gushing blood and bone behind. Usually it was my fault, because I'd done something bad.

      And when I was seven/eight/nine I had recurring and graphic dreams that my baby brother was mutating and something was very wrong with him, but no one wanted to help him, only study him, so I had to run away with him and hide while trying to find help. One time in particular, my little brother's infant face started growing extra eyes over ever surface and it was REALLY DISTURBING.

      My dreams have gotten far less gory and graphic as I've gotten older (….mostly), BUT NO YOU ARE NOT THE ONLY ONE.

    • rabbitape says:

      I have those nightmares too; you are not alone. I once had a dream where I peeled my own face off.

    • beckaboomer says:

      I have dreams where I am decaying, as in parts falling off and rotting, quite often. I mentioned my teeth falling out in dreams in an earlier comment, but the whole-body thing occurs just as often. So no… you are not the only one.

      Also, I have dreams about being eaten alive by zombies. Stupid Walking Dead, bringing back by zombie fear…

    • Genny_ says:

      I don't get stuff like that, per se, but one of the only nightmares that has truly stuck with me in my entire life was this… *thing* hanging from a tree, kind of like a body but not quite right. The arms and legs were all wrong, like, seriously fundamentally *wrong*, it was just- god I don't even like THINKING ABOUT IT. Serious graphic horrible body horror. …I'd kind of rather have had gore.

    • @clodia_risa says:

      I had one where I I was sucked into a computer and couldn't get out. Also, there were tons of other children that had been sucked in. It was very "I have no mouth and yet I must scream."

      Also, there was one with an alien invasion where the aliens were humanoid bipedal bugs. My dream-self cut one down the middle and then had to stomp on all the eggs/maggots that fell out so that they wouldn't quickly grow into additional warriors. I thought that particular detail was very cool, but when I told my mom about it, she asked if I needed therapy.

      The worst nightmares I have are the ones where my husband died and it was my fault so I wasn't allowed at the funeral. Or there was one where he fell in love with someone else and I couldn't hate either of them because it was so obviously meant to be. They were just so damn happy. That one sucked.

  58. I'm pretty sure I have a recurring dream, but I don't know what it is… it's one of those things where I have to be dreaming to be able to remember. Like… dream deja vu.

    I have nightmares, but they don't leave me with any lasting fears because by the time I wake up, I know how utterly absurd they were.

    There are two dreams I've had that I wouldn't classify as nightmares, but fall more under the category of "bad dreams." They were both very vivid and actually took place in their actual locations (not like most dreams where you dream that you're in your house that all of a sudden is two stories and has an elevator and now its a boat, etc.).

    In the first dream, I was in my grandma's house and I saw my grandma sitting quietly in a chair, staring off into space. When I walked up to her she had a gun in her hand and I saw that she shot herself in the stomach and she just kept saying, "I'm just so tired, so tired." I told her it was okay and I held her.

    In the other dream, I was in my backyard and I realized that there was something lurking in the darkness. Somehow, I knew that it was a very large wolf and this overwhelming feeling of dread came over me. I knew that he was coming for me and there was nothing I could do, but then I heard a voice say," It's okay, just go inside. I'll stop him." I turned around and my mastiff Buddy was standing behind me. He told me that the wolf was coming to hurt us, but he was going to protect us. My dread was gone and it left a feeling of peace and safety. I went inside the laundry room and watched Buddy walk into the darkness and I knew that he was never coming back.

    I woke from both of these dreams crying.

  59. tethysdust says:

    I have lots of recurring nightmares, most of which have fairly obvious connections to reality. The really weird ones don't recur. I think it's incredibly interesting that there is a subset of dreams that are fairly common. It seems really strange that the same specific dream images occur, without prompting, to millions of different people.

    I liked this episode quite a lot. It was neat to see more of Buffy's home life (her relationship with her dad). Though it might not be particularly original, I prefer an episode that focuses on the fears and emotions of the main characters to the general 'defeating-a-demon' thing. Not that defeating demons isn't occasionally fun to watch, of course. In general, I think I'm realizing on this re-watch that 13-year-old me was a much less critical viewer than current-me.

  60. Maribeth says:

    So no BtVS reviews for the next two days? I will miss them! I love reading your reviews so much <3

  61. kasiopeia says:

    My thoughts exactly!!

  62. Willow says:

    How has nobody mentioned that Billy looks EXACTLY LIKE JOSEPH-GORDON LEVITT?

    Like, seriously, you guys. Seriously.

  63. pica_scribit says:

    I've had the occasional horrifically violent nightmare — I once dreamed that I had been shot in the head and I was panicking, trying to get to a hospital — but most of my bad dreams are anxiety dreams. These usually come in three flavours:

    1) Travel dreams. I'm going somewhere. I have a flight to catch. I suddenly realise I haven't packed. I don't know where my passport is, or my wallet. I can't remember where I'm supposed to be going.

    2) Responsibility dreams. I've been given something small and fragile to care for. A baby, or a tiny animal. Maybe it's sick or hurt. It's usually impossibly small. And then it dies while it's in my care.

    3) Teeth dreams. I dream about my teeth falling out all the damn time. It's so freaky. Sometimes it's even worse and some other part of my body comes off. *shudders*

    • enigmaticagentscully says:

      Oh I've had the tooth dream! I've heard it's a pretty common one the world over, which is kind of cool?

  64. Elexus Calcearius says:

    I also really adored this episode! What a horrifying idea!

    All I can say, is I'm glad that everyone had moderately small fears. Like one of my worst recurring nightmares, at least when I was younger? There was this wizard, and he took me in as his apprentice. And I was like "this is awesome!' So I went along, helping him out with everything. But then it turned out that he was evil, and he was using me to destroy the world. Then I would watch, helpless, as he created a spell that started to dissolve the Earth, and all my friends and family started burning up, and I'd be floating in the void of space knowing that I'd killed everyone. Cue waking up, crying.

    Now, imagine a person with that dream in this scenario. Bad, bad, bad.

    I'd say the most effective here, at least for me, would be Giles' and Buffy's nightmare. Not being able to read? Terrifying. I also really empathize with Giles' being afraid that he can't save Buffy. The vampire slayer's nightmare's were accordingly bigger (although, I sort of hope they bring back Buffy as a vamp for a later episode). I really liked her divorce nightmare. I always like it when shows/books portray non-nuclear families, and this one really helped deal with Buffy's fear. I wanted to hug her so badly!

  65. @farwell3d says:

    One of my favorite early episodes, and the first that really pointed to the show becoming something amazing.

  66. @farwell3d says:

    You were an awful clown. Your balloon animals suck. Anyone can make a giraffe.

  67. todd says:

    Since we're sharing nightmares, here's my reoccurring terror that I had from age six to ten: I'm being swallowed alive by this giant python, Empire State Building huge, and the dinosaurs from "The Land Before Time" movies (I know, right?) are trying to pull me out. They've got my arms and I'm starting to get loose a little, but then the dinosaurs get tired and they let me go, and I get swallowed. Also, I've had lots of dreams featuring me falling off a cliff and dying because someone, usually my mom or dad, forgot about me and didn't help me up. I kind of have abandonment/depression issues. You might have noticed.

    God, I love this episode as much as I hate it. Mostly because I totally relate to Buffy when her dad's laying down the "you suck as a child" diatribe. Also, spiders! I didn't use to hate them, but then Chamber of Secrets happened and traumatised me for life. Also, I get Cordelia's fears. They make sense, because she's so focused on maintaining her image and social standing that, if either of those things were taken away, she wouldn't be a person.

  68. MichelleZB says:

    "For real, I once had a nightmare that I was force fed milk on live television, and then the entire tabloid circuit ran stories that I was the worst vegan on the planet. "


    Yeah, so… Mark Reads Scott Pilgrim y/y?

  69. WhiteEyedCat says:

    I really like this episode but it's not really one that I watch a lot. It's sort of…exhausting to watch, a lot of the episode is a whirlwind of action with the characters nightmares literally coming to life. I was interested to see what Mark would think of Billy's story, I think that it was handled well but I really have no idea what it's like to be abused and if it was portrayed properly. I agree that the ending is a little too happy, and simply achieved, but I think that the episode needs a light ending.

    A recent re-occuring nightmare that I keep having is that for some reason I'm holding a fish hook in my mouth and desperately trying not to get it through my tongue or lip. For some reason my perspective is from the back of my throat, so I can see the hook. I always wake up completely freaked out, though I have no idea why, it really confuses me since most of my dreams are really detailed and bizarre and this one is very simple.

    I often remember my dreams and they're always really weird. I also talk in my sleep, and sometimes sleep walk. Once in my sleep (or probably half asleep) I went into my brother's room and shook him awake, demanding to know "the answer", obviously he was very confused and when he couldn't answer I claimed that he was useless and stormed out. Another time in my sleep I screamed and threw my clock at the wall, causing my parents to run into my room and find me peacefully asleep. I also recently broke my big toe in my sleep, and I have no idea how…This got a bit off topic, in conclusion lots of wacky stuff goes on inside my head, so I'd hate to see it manifest into reality!

  70. fantasylover120 says:

    This ep is a perfect example of just how good Buffy can get. I must say I related to Xander's clown fear the most. Clowns have always creeped me out.

  71. Sarah S says:

    The thing I always loved most about this episode is the way that it starts so slowly and in such an almost lighthearted fashion. Okay, spiders coming out of a book are scary, but they're just spiders, you can hit 'em with a textbook. Cordelia getting dragged off to the chess club, her hair matted and dressed like Marian the Librarian is really funny.

    Then Giles can't read and Buffy gets rejected by her father and suddenly it's not as funny anymore. I love the way you have this turning point where Sunnydale is descending into total chaos and you can't even remember how funny you thought it all was at the start when it was all innocuous. It just spirals so quickly into something that's really terrifying. That moment when Buffy's facing the Master in the cemetery, that's my absolute favourite moment, marking as it does the point where the most egregious nightmares in people's lives start to appear.

  72. msnaddie says:

    I was laughing at Xander's fears when he started following the candy trails – and then the clown showed up and I'm still laughing. Until he wielded a knife – FEARS VALIDATED D:

  73. Hotaru_hime says:

    Ooog, this episode was a punch to the gut.
    But Xander got over his coulrophobia!

  74. Bookgal12 says:

    I’m happy to back on this fabulous site. I’ve been swamped with college and a busy life. Anyways to Buffy, I remember seeing this one and thought that the nightmares theme was done very well and it ended on a good note. Buffy’s rejection from her dad was very sad to watch and it just reminds me of what is to come…

  75. Kirinleaf says:

    I like this ep a lot, and the gradual progression from "funny" dreams (Cool Guy's mum turning up, Cordelia's chess club panic) to horror always made me think of the chapter from "The Dawn Treader" where Caspian and co (almost) encounter the Island of Dreams, and are all excited until Rhoop says "Not daydreams. DREAMS". They take about 10 seconds to realise what that means, and start getting the hell out of there.

  76. Liza says:

    I never had any recurring dreams per se (I did have the teeth falling out dreams, and I'm 25 and had a dream last night about teeth falling out, and that I couldn't walk or run, the air was too thick)…but I did have a dream once that my house was being invaded by Nazis (I'm Jewish) and they killed my dad and sister and my Mom left me there to get the cops, and I had to fend for myself. Scarred for life.

  77. Ashes says:

    I have always loved this episode, Giles being unable to read, Cordelia with her bad hair screaming that she didn't want to be in the chess club. But the best part was Buffy turning around in all her vampire glory. Chilling.

    The ONLY thing that still disapoints me about this episode is the lack of Angel and his nightmares. A 200+ vampire with a soul…i would have loved to see that. And when you finally get to season 2 you will realise exactly what i'm getting at.

  78. FuTeffla says:

    I used to have a recurring nightmare that I was being chased through my house by a vampire and I could only move in slow-motion, and I ran to the kitchen where my dad was cleaning shoes to ask him to save me but my voice was in slow-motion and he didn't understand me, and THE VAMPIRE TOTALLY GOT ME. So, yeah. I don't know what that was all about.

    Also, I have to watch the start of this episode through my fingers because of the spiders. Oh God, the spiders.

  79. flootzavut says:

    Great episode. And even knowing that it wasn't real, that scene between Buffy and her dad is gut-wrenching. And I don't know about anyone else, but I felt like, even though she knew it was a nightmare, it was still the kind of thing that would really haunt her, you know? The bad stuff is always easier to believe – even if you know in your head that it isn't true.

  80. sesinkhorn says:

    I actually don't have recurring nightmares. I (very luckily) don't have nightmares very often at all, actually. At least, not many I can remember.

    But when I do have them… Jesus Christ. My mind thinks up some FUCKED UP SHIT. The kind of stuff where you wake up crying and shaking and flail around for one of your cats to cuddle because you just need something soft and warm and safe. So the idea of my nightmares coming to life? NO. NO THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

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