After Buffy is stung by a demon, she begins to have vivid day-dreams about a mental asylum. She gradually begins to believe that she is a crazy girl back in L.A and that Sunnydale and all her friends are just a figment of her imagination.



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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Anya (credit only)
Lorraine Ross
Sarah Scivier ...


After being poisoned by a demon, Buffy comes to believe that she is confined to a mental hospital, her mother is alive, her parents are still together, and that her life as a Slayer has all been an hallucination for the past six years. Deciding that she prefers this "normal" life with her parents, Buffy attempts to destroy the things that tether her to the "fantasy" life of the Slayer: her friends. Written by Alex

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


TV-PG | See all certifications »




Release Date:

12 March 2002 (USA)  »

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Technical Specs


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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


Sarah Michelle Gellar would later appear on one of the last episodes of All My Children as an unnamed character. She played a well dressed, coiffured and otherwise coherent young woman brought in from the town for medication because she claimed she "saw vampires before they were in". Gellar originally played the daughter of Susan Lucci on the show. See more »


When Buffy punches the demon, her fist is clean when she pulls it back, but when next we see her a couple of seconds later, her hand is dripping goo. See more »


Joyce Summers: I know you're afraid. I know the world feels like a hard place, sometimes. But you've got people who love you. Your dad and I, we have all the faith in the world in you. We'll always be with you. You have got a world of strength in your heart. I know you do. You just have to find it again. Believe in yourself.
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References One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975) See more »


Buffy the Vampire Slayer Theme
Written by Nerf Herder
Performed by Brandon K. Verrett
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User Reviews

"Life is the Big Bad"
24 October 2015 | by See all my reviews

According to the DVD extras, this season is all about LIFE being the "big bad", and in that context, this story makes absolute sense as a story arch episode. For Buffy, it sums it up perfectly!

Every single one of our main characters have faced a major upset in their life, not least of which ends up being Willow (but that is a story for another day). Obviously Xander and Anja's relationship has imploded, and it's taken Anja back to her former occupation. Dawn is a kleptomaniac with major problems keeping her grades up, and poor Buffy is barely holding things together as a person, let alone as a slayer.

Oh...and Buffy is being messed with by the Trio! The icing on the cake!

Now, people have been complaining a lot about Dawn's reaction in this episode, but I want to take a moment to call out Spike.

I want to preface this by saying that I'm a huge Spike fan. He's possibly one of the best characters on this show in terms of complexity and character development (and just being plain hilarious)...but being a good character does not mean that one is immune from faults...and oh boy, his faults sure come out to play here!

He knows that Buffy is tripping balls, and is tasked with making sure she drinks the antidote, but instead decides to take the opportunity to go on a diatribe about her little "hero trip", and how if she told her friends about them she might actually have to be happy.

Hmm...Newsflash! There is no THEM. Buffy broke off their meaningless sex-fest (quite amicably, all things considered) during "As You Were", which was two episodes earlier. This is Spike being selfish and wanting things to go back to how they were before. He's attempting a convoluted form of blackmail to see if she'll sleep with him again to shut him up.

Then he leaves the room with absolutely no regard as to whether she'll drinks the antidote, or what effect his words might have had on her fragile mind.

Yep! Spike gets the gold medal for being a jerk to Buffy in this episode.

Now that that's out the way, I want to say that while I don't think that Buffy is actually in an asylum, that the fact that it's left open for interpretation is an awesome ending.

Heck...If you drew the storyline out a little further and didn't rely on the back-story of an entire series, you could cut-and-paste the outline of this episode, flesh it out with new characters, and have yourself a neat little screen play in the "psychological thriller" genre.

If this happens, don't blame me if the unoriginal cyborgs in Hollywood create a "Normal Again"-esque abomination.

Just sayin'.

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