Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season 3, Episode 12

Helpless (19 Jan. 1999)

TV Episode  -   -  Action | Drama | Fantasy
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Ratings: 8.2/10 from 914 users  
Reviews: 2 user | 1 critic

As her birthday approaches, Buffy loses her slayer powers and must do battle with a vampire who is not only extremely powerful but also quite mad.



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Title: Helpless (19 Jan 1999)

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Episode cast overview:
Rupert Giles (as Anthony Stewart Head)
Zachary Kralik
Construction Worker


For her upcoming 18th birthday, Buffy declines the Scooby gang's offer of a big party, hoping to celebrate with quiet reflection and a traditional trip to the ice show with her father. But Buffy doesn't know that preparations are being made for a life-threatening rite of passage that drains the slayer of her powers and then entraps her with a powerful and psychotic vampire foe. Written by Alex

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Action | Drama | Fantasy


TV-PG | See all certifications »




Release Date:

19 January 1999 (USA)  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


David Fury, who created the character of Quentin Travers, says in the DVD commentary that he wanted a "very British" name, and combined the names of Quentin Crisp and P.L. Travers (author of "Mary Poppins"). See more »


When Giles injects Buffy with the needle, her shirt sleeve goes from being up, to, when he 'wakes' her up, being down without anyone pulling it down. See more »


[Buffy has learned that Giles has robbed her of her powers for a Council test]
Giles: You have to listen to me. Because I've told you this, the test is invalidated. You will be safe now, I promise you. Now, whatever I have to do to deal with Kralik... and to win back your trust...
Buffy: You stuck a needle in me. You poisoned me.
Cordelia: [Cordelia walks in] What's going on? Oh, God. Is the world ending? I have to research a paper on Bosnia for tomorrow, but if the world's ending, I'm not gonna bother.
Giles: [...]
See more »


Referenced in Angel: Spin the Bottle (2002) See more »


Buffy the Vampire Slayer Theme
Written by Nerf Herder
Performed by Brandon K. Verrett
See more »

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User Reviews

The old switcheroo!
17 February 2012 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews


The Good; Fabulous ep, really pulls the rug out from under you and puts Buffy in serious peril, very scary. Lovely Amy ref, love the final scene and Joyce's pride at Buffy's cleverness.

The Bad; The whole idea of the Cruciantanem is stupid. If the Slayer isn't up to the job then surely she just dies anyway and they get a new one? Surely Buffy would go to her friends for help? How does Kralik know that Buffy is aware where to come to when he sends her his invitation? Wouldn't it be better for the Council to have Wes standing by to relieve Giles rather than leave it a fortnight? Willow's mustard yellow tights are awful, I think Tara threw them out as we don't see them past season 3.

Best line; No contest "Bite me!" but I do also like the Buffy/Angel exchange; Buffy; "That's beautiful...or taken literally really gross" Angel; "I was just thinking"

Character death; 2 humans and 2 vamps

Tied up; Joyce

Knocked out; No but Buffy mesmerised

Women good/men bad; Lots of it. Buffy is let down by her father and betrayed by her father figure (the scene where she dumps her father's present in the bin is particularly heartrending). Kralik killed and ate his own mother (hopefully after he became a vampire?) Kralik menacing Joyce is very scary and his idea of turning Buffy even more so (although would even a sired Slayer be evil?).

Kinky dinky; How long have you got? Buffy and Angel 'getting all sweaty' as Xander would say. Buffy refers to dating an older man who likes it when she calls him daddy, probably her father but Angel would like to be sure....Seeking arrangement.com? I must say I missed the whole 'phallic crystal fondling' first time around, David Fury had to point it out to me. You could even say that the whole Giles' drugs Buffy routine is tantamount to child abuse, he dopes her then penetrates her body with the needle. Kralik meanwhile actually seems to like pain from Buffy burning him with the cross

Calling Captain Subtext; If there were ever an ep where Cordy and Buffy were to get together this is it. Note Cordy's outraged pounding of the guy who pushes Buffy and her leaving Buff home.

Guantanamo Bay; The Watcher's Council show their true colours and they're pretty damn ruthless

Scoobies to the ER; Going to start a new topic because in virtually every ep one or more requires hospital treatment; Buffy pretty banged up and without Slayer healing for once

Where's Dawn? Still at the house when Kralik snatches Joyce? At Kit's? Girl Scouts? After school classes? Or taken hostage with her mother?

Questions and observations Interesting to hear David Fury's initial story idea, that Buffy hallucinates the Scoobies and Joyce as vamps. Nice to hear he was a fan before he got to write it. I also heard they couldn't do it because Kristine Sutherland was allergic to the vamp makeup. No Faith this ep? A shame, liked to have seen her. Presumably Kralik's pills are for mental illness rather than for anything physical which would have been cured when he became a vamp like Spike's mum/Darla. The guy he turns is one of the crew from ST;ENTERPRISE. You always knew Buffy would beat him but her method is very ingenious (after all, Little Red Riding Hood defeats the big bad wolf). Presumably more time elapses between Buffy trying to untie Joyce and him breaking through the door than is shown onsecreen. Remember Buffy hasn't even seen Kralik wash down the pills so Joyce must have told her. Personally I always liked the eaten-away-from-within effect and it was always obvious to me. Cordy's paper is on Bosnia which dates this ep pretty accurately (nowadays kids would be writing about Darfur).

8/10, very, very good, almost a classic

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