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Buffy the Vampire Slayer Episode Guide

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Season 1, Episode 9: The Puppet Show

by Helen

            Someone with a creepy voice is watching Sunnydale High students backstage at a rehearsal for the school talent show. He sees everything with a purple tinge, breathes heavily and mutters “I will be whole, I will be new.” All of the students are busy, except one who sits there rubbing his head as though he has a headache, while his dummy puppet sits on his lap, staring out at the other students. Onstage, Cordelia is singing. Her performance is atrocious and Giles, the only audience member, cuts her off early. Cordelia is irritated but leaves the stage. She is followed by Lisa who begins playing an extremely boring trumpet piece just as Buffy, Xander and Willow come in to visit Giles. They mock him for having to run the talent show and he insists he was forced to by the new principal. He tells them that they should participate or help but they just laugh and leave. As they walk into the aisle of the auditorium, they run into the principal, Mr. Snyder. He has heard them laughing at Giles and mocking a school event and he is not happy, especially since the three all missed their afternoon classes the day before (they were fighting a demon) and are known for getting into trouble. He calls them antisocial and decides to punish them by forcing them to participate in the talent show. Giles is highly amused by this. Lisa finishes her tuba piece and is followed by Morgan, the guy with the dummy. Buffy is not pleased because dummies scare her. What’s scarier is how bad Morgan is a puppetry, comedy, and ventriloquism. The act is terrible. Suddenly the puppet, Sid, starts talking in new voice and mocking Morgan. The jokes he tells are funny and everyone starts laughing. It seems as though the atrocious beginning was a joke in itself. It also appears that Morgan is actually very talented because Sid’s movements are extremely life-like.

            After rehearsal, a ballet dancer is changing alone in the dark locker room. She hears a noise so she starts looking around. The creature that sees in purple watches her for awhile, breathing heavily. At last he dives at her. She turns around just in time to see him and screams. He yells. “I will be flesh!”

             The next day at rehearsal, Buffy, Xander and Willow attempt to do a classical dramatic scene but Xander thinks they look ridiculous and demands they figure out something else to do. They are sitting on the stage brainstorming when a flirtatious whistle from Sid gets their attention. Morgan talks to them and seems shy and nice, but Sid keeps making lewd comments, to the point that it angers Buffy. Just then, Giles and Snyder walk into the auditorium. Snyder is telling Giles his philosophy on education. He knows Sunnydale has a reputation for being a crazy place but he plans on changing all that by being extremely strict and keeping an eye on “the bad element,” specifically Buffy, Willow and Xander.

            Soon enough, some girls find the dancer’s dead body in the locker room. Giles surveys the scene as the authorities remove the body and then reports to the gang. The dancer, Emily, had her heart cut with a large knife. The heart removal points to a demon but the use of a weapon instead of claws or teeth points to a human. The gang decides to investigate. They start by talking to the other people in the talent show, one of whom was probably the last to see Emily alive. Buffy talks to Lisa the tuba girl, Giles talks to a magician, Willow talks to a juggler and Xander talks to Cordelia. Everyone except Cordelia tells them the same thing. Emily was last seen talking to Morgan, who was acting kind of strange. Recently he’s been rubbing his head a lot and he was doing it even more than usual yesterday. He was also acting kind of paranoid and was arguing with his dummy. Cordelia’s story is a little different. Emily (who she calls Emma) was her best friend and all she can think about was “It could have been me!” Buffy walks into the auditorium to find Morgan. He’s there alright, again arguing with his dummy. They’re talking about figuring out who is going to be next. When Morgan sees Buffy he claims he is working on throwing his voice. Buffy starts questioning him about Emily but he doesn’t have much to say. He mentions something about talking to Sid, then starts rubbing his head in pain. Suddenly Sid starts talking to Buffy, telling her to back off. Buffy gets annoyed that Morgan won’t talk to her directly and to her surprise Morgan yells at Sid and puts him in his carrying case. Buffy apologizes for making Morgan mad but Morgan insists he’s not angry. “It’s him,” he’s says, glancing down at Sid. Buffy looks down and Sid seems to be staring at her. Morgan closes up the case and rushes out of the room. The group reconvenes and agrees that Morgan is the prime suspect, though Buffy is still not convinced that it’s not a demon. Unfortunately, Giles research time has been cut short by producing the talent show. The kids think they should all blow off the talent show to investigate the murder, but Giles lets them know that Snyder is watching them all very closely. They have to stay on his good side or he could greatly inhibit Buffy’s slaying. They decide to go low key for now by searching Morgan’s locker.

            Buffy is being watched as she walks to Morgan’s locker. She feels the eyes on her back, but when she looks around she doesn’t see anyone. She breaks the lock off Morgan’s locker and has just reached into it when someone grabs her arm. It’s Principal Snyder. He’s not happy to see her here after school and tells her he knows something out of the ordinary is going on with her. As he lectures whoever was watching Buffy before now watches both of them. Snyder tells Buffy to get whatever it was she came for and she opens Sid’s case only to find the dummy missing. As Buffy and Snyder leave, Morgan and Sid, who have been watching them from behind a door, leave as well. That night, Morgan and Sid argue on the stage. Sid insists that Buffy’s extra strength indicates that she is the one. Sid only needs one more and then he will be free. Morgan says he won’t do it. Sid doesn’t care because he is willing to do it alone.

            That night Buffy’s mom comes into Buffy’s room as she is getting ready for bed. She notices that Buffy seems worried, but Buffy insists everything is fine. After her mom leaves she gets into bed, not noticing that Sid is right outside her window, staring in. Later that night Buffy is woken up by the sound of small pattering feet. There is a shadow of something small running across her floor and suddenly Sid leaps into her bed. Buffy scream and hits him. Her mother hears her scream and rushes in, turning on the light. They search the bed but nothing’s there so Buffy assumes she must have had a nightmare. Her mother comments that it is a bad idea to sleep with the window open. Now Buffy knows it wasn’t a nightmare, because the window was shut when she went to sleep.

            The next day, talent show rehearsal goes just as badly as before. The magician has trouble with his disappearing trick and Cordy complains about the order of the acts. Buffy walks and reveals that she believes Sid attacked her last night. The gang thinks she may be imagining things and point out that a dummy being alive is highly unlikely. Morgan is still there best suspect. After all, he is acting pretty suspiciously. Giles reveals that he has found a type of demon that takes the form of a young human but has to harvest a human heart and brain every seven years to maintain it form. There are only seven of them in the world and they are all preternaturally strong.  Morgan could still be the guy, he may just be a demon rather than being crazy. This could explain why he appears to be weakening. Buffy wants to talk to Morgan without Sid around.

            That day in history class, Morgan has Sid out on the desk. Sid turns around and stares at Buffy so blatantly that even Cordelia notices. But Buffy can’t be sure that it isn’t Morgan doing it because his hand is on Sid’s controls. Sid starts whispering into Morgan’s ear. The teacher notices and gets annoyed with Morgan. Suddenly Sid mouths off to the teacher, which makes her angry. She confiscates Sid and puts him in a cabinet. Sid shouts at the teacher from inside the cabinet, so the teacher yells at Morgan, assuming that he is throwing his voice. At the end of school that day, Morgan comes to get Sid from the teacher. He is acting very strange and rubbing his head a lot. The teacher has noticed a change in his behavior recently and starts asking him if everything is okay. He cuts her off and demands Sid back. The teacher opens the cabinet but Sid is not there. Morgan freaks out.

            Sid is currently sitting on Xander’s arm in the school library. The rest of the gang walks in and Buffy immediately balks at Sid. Xander says he stole Sid so that Buffy can get some alone time with Morgan. He laughs at Buffy being afraid of Sid and decides to prove he is inanimate by banging Sid’s head on the counter repeatedly. Sid looks very distressed. While Buffy heads off to find Morgan, Giles and Willow head deep into the stacks to research the demon they think may be responsible.

            Buffy goes to look for Morgan in the auditorium. She heads backstage and hears a noise from one of the back rooms. Just as she is about to go back there, Principal Snyder comes up behind her and tells her that it’s not safe for a girl to be wandering around alone with a murderer on the loose. The situation is tension-filled and it’s difficult to tell if he is suspicious of Buffy or if he is being creepy. Buffy stands up to Snyder and he leaves.

             Back at the library Xander is also being creeped out. He has a hard time concentrating on his schoolwork with Sid nearby. In the stacks Willow finds a book saying that sometimes inanimate objects that resemble people and have been mystically endowed with consciousness attempt to become human by harvesting human organs. Suddenly Buffy’s suspicions about Sid don’t seem so crazy after all. Xander gets up from doing his homework to grab a dictionary off the counter. When he gets back to the table, Sid is gone, but Xander doesn’t notice initially. When he does, he screams. Giles and Willow come running out front to find Xander standing on the table. He tells them Sid’s gone and they too get scared.

            Buffy is still searching backstage when she nearly trips over something on the floor. She looks down and sees the something is Morgan, missing his brain. Buffy slowly starts backing out of the room when she hears a noise from above. She looks up and sees a giant, cast iron chandelier falling towards her. The chandelier knocks Buffy out and when she regains consciousness she sees a small figure scurrying towards her. Buffy struggles to lift the chandelier off herself but before she can, Sid starts stabbing at her head with a knife. Luckily his clumsy body gives him bad aim and Buffy is able to knock him away from her. She gets out from under the chandelier and makes short work of Sid, pinning him to a wall. They both start telling each other off and suddenly Buffy realizes Sid is talking to her as though she is the organ-harvesting demon just as Sid realizes that Buffy is talking to him the same way. 

            Back in the library Sid explains that he’s a demon hunter who was cursed by a demon to take the form of the puppet. The only way to break the curse is kill all seven of the organ- harvesting demons. He’s already killed six and when he determined that the seventh was one of the talent show contestants, he assumed it was Buffy because she is so strong. Now that the real demon has what he wants he is probably going to move on, meaning he won’t make it to the talent show. The show is starting soon so Giles heads off to gather all contestants so they can determine who is missing and thus who the demon is. Backstage Giles finds himself having to call time checks, deal with Cordelia’s attack of stage fright, and tell everyone to gather on the stage in five minutes all while trying to keep an eye out for who isn’t there. Buffy and Sid sit up on a catwalk over the stage waiting and talking. When Sid finds out that Buffy is the Slayer, he tells her that he was friends with the Slayer back in the 1930s. Buffy realizes how old he must be and that his body probably isn’t around anymore. He confirms what she’s thinking. When he breaks his curse he will die. He’s not all that sad about it though, he has lived much longer than most demon hunters, certainly much longer than most Slayers.

            Just then everyone gathers onstage and Buffy, Giles and Sid realize that no one is missing. After everyone goes backstage, Buffy jumps down to consult with Giles. They decide that the demon must not be part of the show’s cast and Giles tells Buffy to go back and tell the others while he gets the show going. She calls up to Sid but he is gone. As Giles heads backstage he sees Snyder lurking around. Snyder sees him and leaves. Buffy also heads backstage, looking for Sid. Liquid drips on her from a shelf so she reaches up to grab whatever is leaking. It turns out to be a human brain. Buffy goes back and tells Xander and Willow what’s going on. Xander is immediately suspicious of Sid but Buffy is sure that it’s not him. What’s more important is finding out why the demon would have rejected Morgan’s brain. He was one of the smartest kids in school. Willow hacks into his records and discovers that Morgan had brain cancer. The demon still needs a brain that is both healthy and intelligent, so it’s going to go looking for the smartest person around. Buffy and Xander both start staring at Willow.  Meanwhile, Giles is helping the magician with a trick he is having problems with. Giles tells him how to solve it mathematically. “Wow, Mr. Giles,” he says enthusiastically. “You’re really smart!” He then asks Giles for help with another trick. In the library Willow realizes that her braininess will make her a prime candidate for harvesting but Buffy assures that as long as Willow sticks with them, she’ll be safe. Back at the talent show, the magician shows Giles his other trick, a guillotine with a very sharp blade. He wants Giles to act as his assistant on this trick, because his real assistant got sick. Suddenly the student notices that part of his hand now has demon skin on it. He hides it under his sleeve and urges Giles on, reminding him that they don’t have much time. The kids, meanwhile, try to figure out who the demon could be. They realize that all the kids in the talent show are suspects again. Buffy is worried because Giles doesn’t know this and he is there alone with them. Xander tells her not to worry, Giles can take care of himself. After all, he is really smart. Suddenly they all realize that Giles is probably in the most danger out of everyone and they run off to help him. Giles is already strapped into the guillotine. He notices that it is aimed at the top of his head instead of his neck. Mark the magician locks him in and reveals that this guillotine is designed to slice of the top of his head so his brains coming spilling out. No trick involved. Then Mark starts hacking at the rope that is holding the blade up. Buffy runs from backstage, tackling him to ground. She kicks him in the face and his skin splits, revealing demon skin underneath. As they fight, the little bit of rope still holding the blade breaks and the sharp metal comes flying towards Giles’ head. Xander catches it at the last second and Willow starts hacking through the lock holding Giles’ head in. Buffy continues fighting Mark and kicks him into the box he uses for his disappearing trick. He hand punches through the door, now fully demonized. He rips his way out and begins attacking Buffy. He is no longer a high school student but a full-blown monster. Willow finally frees Giles and he gets up. Suddenly Sid jumps down onto the demon’s back and starts stabbing him viciously. The demon lets go of Buffy and she starts hitting and kicking him, knocking him onto the bench under the blade where Giles just was. Xander lets go of the rope and the guillotine chops off the demon’s head. Sid finishes off the demon by stabbing him through the heart. The moment the demon dies, so does Sid and the gang is left with only a dummy. Buffy picks it up and cradles it like baby. Just then the curtains go up. The crowd looks up to see a giant wrecked magic trick, a demon lying in a guillotine with his head chopped off and knife sticking out of his chest, Willow holding an ax, Buffy cradling a dummy, Giles sitting on the flour and Xander just standing there, open-mouthed. Snyder, sitting in the front row of the audience is very confused.

            But the show must go on which means Buffy, Xander and Willow end up performing a scene from Oedipus, with Giles watching embarrassed from the audience. Buffy rolls her eyes during the performance, Xander butchers his lines and Willow, struck with paralyzing stage fright, freezes before running off the stage. Snyder does not approve.

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Updated 9/14/07  


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