Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Season 7 Episode 4


Aired Tuesday 8:00 PM Oct 15, 2002 on The WB
out of 10
User Rating
477 votes

By TV.com Users

Episode Summary

Buffy is settling in to her job as the newest counselor at Sunnydale High helping troubled teens and sorting out problems. But when a student named Cassie calmly states that she has only a week to live, Buffy is at a loss. Buffy investigates, and soon comes to believe that Cassie is psychic rather than suicidal.moreless

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  • This is a very difficult episode to judge, because it's a very solid production with very little character and story relevance.

    "Help" feels a lot like an old school stand-alone which, I suppose, is alright from time to time, but just doesn't have the lasting impact to the season as a whole that I crave. How is what happens to Cassie in any significant way relevant to the characters who are still alive? With that said, I still found an emotionally compelling story here. The actress who plays Cassie, Azure Skye, does an excellent job with the role given to her -- I found Cassie to be a likeable and sympathetic enough character. So, I definitely enjoyed the episode, but it just can't score much higher than it does here because of its lack of relevance.

    The episode's not a complete loss for character relevance though. It's neat that the first person who stops by Buffy's desk is an unknown Potential. The manner in which Amanda has been handling her problems is amusing, but also very much hints at the truth of what's going on inside her. It's also entertaining watching Buffy's reactions to all these kids and their problems or excuses. I chuckled when Dawn showed up just to tell Buffy about all the things that she does to annoy her.

    Obviously, though, the episode decides to hone in on Cassie, the girl who thinks she's going to die. This is the crux of the episode: are there times when there's just nothing you can do to help someone? If that's true, should you even bother trying to help? I do see some light parallels to the impending Potentials situation and the apparent hopelessness of the fight ahead. Yes, it's cool Buffy learns something about the nature of helping people, but it just doesn't connect as well with the rest of the season as I'd have liked it to.

    I like seeing Dawn thrown into the mix more. Here's yet another example of Buffy living up to her promise of including Dawn more in her life. Although not initially slayer-related, Buffy's making a consistent effort to include Dawn in research, investigation, and even the solution, even if it doesn't work out so well. Although, they're not quite treating her as an equal yet. Admittedly, her idea here about the friend of Cassie potentially being her killer was dead wrong.

    I appreciated that Willow went to visit Tara's grave. It's a very somber moment, but one that I feel was very necessary to actually see on screen. Willow's conversation with Xander en route was also nice, as it further illuminates Willow's central dilemma this season. She tells him, "I don't know what I can do. I mean, frankly, I'm scared of what I might

    Xander, back to classic form this season after a slump last season due to personal issues, has a great analogy for Willow, "Yeah, I get that. Figuring out how to control your magic seems a lot like hammering a nail. Well, uh, hear me out. So you're hammering, right? Okay, well at the end of the hammer, you have the power, but no control. It takes, like, two strokes to hit the nail in, or you could hit your thumb ... So you choke up. Control, but no power. It could take like ten strokes to knock the nail in. Power, control. It's a Willow, thankful, amusingly points out the difference in consequences between Xander's analogy and her reality, "That's actually not a bad analogy ... Except... I'm less worried about hitting my thumb, and more worried about going all black-eyed baddy and bewitching that hammer into cracking my friends' skulls open like I think these two sum up Willow's struggle very nicely in this conversation.

    That's really about all I have to say about this one. I appreciated the bits of foreshadowing we got, loved the usual top-notch continuity, enjoyed the one episode stint with Cassie and actually wish she would have hung around longer, liked all of the surrounding character material -- especially the Willow and Xander interaction and the visit to Tara's grave, and thoroughly enjoyed Buffy fully realizing that she just can't save everyone, which doesn't mean she should stop trying. This is a perfectly respectable episode of television that, sadly, just doesn't have enough lasting relevance to the story or the characters, and is a bit shallow on complexity. In summary, not bad, but not particularly memorable either.moreless
  • Buffy the School Counsellor


    The Good;

    A real heartwarmer/wrencher, some lovely stuff here. And Willow visiting Tara's grave. Plus Amanda!

    The Bad;

    Can we really believe that jerk face wouldn't be interested in a girl as gorgeous as Dawn?

    Best line;

    Buffy the Student Counsellor; "...and all that shi...guff!"

    Women good/men bad;

    The SDH boys are loathsome scum who want to sacrifice Cassie for their own greed. They need a damn good killing! Cassies dad is a drunk but loves his daughter and would never hurt her. Cassie's friend Mike thinks making boy's crazy is part of girl's job.


    Threatening Cassie with the meat cleaver, ugh!

    Kinky dinky;

    Xander thinks Googling is some form of sexual act? Cassie speaks of her unused thighs in her poetry.

    Captain Subtext;

    One student fears that they're gay but it might just be an excuse to date Buffy. Willow tells Xander she's 'over you sweetie'. However she also used to write Doogie Howser fanfic (Alysson Hannigan now starring with Doogie Howser himself aka Neil Harris in 'How I met your mother' wonder if that was on the cards when they wrote this?)

    Guantanamo Bay;

    Buffy threatens the student with coins in his locker who reminds me a LOT of Jonathon.

    Apocalypses; 7,

    Scoobies in bondage:

    Buffy: 8

    Giles: 4

    Cordy: 5

    Will: 4

    Jenny: 1

    Angel: 4

    Oz: 1

    Faith: 3

    Joyce: 1

    Wes: 1

    Xander; 2

    Dawn; 4

    Scoobies knocked out:

    Buffy: 19

    Giles: 12

    Cordy: 6

    Xander: 14

    Will: 8

    Jenny: 2

    Angel: 6

    Oz: 3

    Faith: 1

    Joyce: 3

    Wes: 1


    Dawn; 4

    Tara; 1

    Kills: 1 vamp and 1 demon for Buffy

    Buffy: 109 vamps, 60 demons, 6 monsters, 3 humans, 1 werewolf, 1 spirit warrior & a robot

    Giles: 8 vamps, 2 demon, 1 human, 1 god.

    Cordy: 3 vamps, a demon

    Will: 6 vamps + 3 demons +1 fawn+1 human.

    Angel: 3 vamps, 1 demon, 1 human

    Oz: 3 vamps, 1 zombie

    Faith: 16 vamps, 5 demons, 3 humans

    Xander: 6 vamps, 2 zombies, 1 a demon,

    Anya: 1 vamp and 1 a demon

    Riley; 18 vamps + 7 demons

    Spike; 8 vamps and 6 demons

    Buffybot; 2 vamps

    Tara; 1 demon

    Dawn; 1 vamp + 1 demon

    Scoobies go evil:

    Giles: 1

    Cordy: 1

    Will: 3

    Jenny: 1

    Angel: 1

    Oz: 1

    Joyce: 1

    Xander: 4

    Anya; 1

    Dawn; 1

    Buffy; 1

    Alternate scoobies:

    Buffy: 8

    Giles: 4

    Cordy: 1

    Will: 5

    Jenny: 2

    Angel: 3

    Oz: 2

    Joyce: 2

    Xander: 4

    Tara; 1


    Spike; 1

    Anya; 2

    Recurring characters killed: 12

    Jesse, Flutie, Jenny, Kendra, Larry, Snyder, Professor Walsh, Forrest, McNamara, Joyce, Katrina, Tara

    Sunnydale deaths; poor Cassie but like Joyce through natural causes


    Total number of scoobies: 4, welcome Willow back to the gang

    Xander, Buffy, Dawn, Willow

    Xander demon magnet: 5(6?)

    Preying Mantis Lady, Inca Mummy Girl, Drusilla, VampWillow, Anya (arguably Buffy & Faith with their demon essences?), Dracula?

    Scoobies shot:

    Giles: 2

    Angel: 3

    Oz: 4

    Riley; 1

    Buffy; 1

    Tara; 1

    Notches on Scooby bedpost:

    Giles: 2; Joyce & Olivia, possibly Jenny and 3xDraccy babes?

    Cordy: 1?

    Buffy: 4 confirmed; Angel, Parker, Riley, Spike. 1 possible, Dracula(?)

    Angel: 1;Buffy

    Joyce: 1;Giles, 2 possible, Ted and Dracula(?)

    Oz: 3; Groupie, Willow & Verucca

    Faith:2 ;Xander, Riley

    Xander: 2; Faith, Anya

    Willow: 2;Oz and Tara

    Riley; 3; Buffy, Sandy and unnamed vampwhore

    Spike; 2 Buffy and Anya

    Anya; 2 Spike and Xander

    Dawn in peril; 12

    Dawn the bashful virgin; 9

    What the fanficcers thought;

    Read a lovely one once where in order to honour Cassie's memory Dawn takes Mike to the winter dance in her place and they have a wonderful time.

    Questions and observations;

    Amanda for the first time, by a long chalk my favourite potential, I think she's just wonderful. Surely Tara's gravestone should have an epitaph? Glenn Mornoshower who plays Cassie's dad is one of those actors you see EVERYWHERE in films and tv. Buffy borrows Dawn's clothes, suprised they're not too tall for her. Dawn's dialogue seems very Law & Order, a show MT guest-starred on. Buffy resents being referred to as Dawn's sister just as she didn't like being known as Willow's friend at university. Wouldn't it make more sense for Spike to tackle the demon who he can hurt rather than the boys whom he can't?

    Marks out of 10; 7/10 ( this mark becoming something of a habit in season 7)

  • Sometimes.....You Just Can't Help

    Help-Buffy is settling in to her job as the newest counselor at Sunnydale High helping troubled teens and sorting out problems. But when a student named Cassie calmly states that she has only a week to live, Buffy is at a loss. Buffy investigates, and soon comes to believe that Cassie is psychic rather than suicidal

    "Help" is one of those episodes of Buffy that sticks with you after watching it. While not considered one of the best episodes of the series among the fandom, "Help" is still truly a emotionally rewarding episode with a strong script, great performances from the main cast and guest stars, especially Azura Skye as Cassie. One of the best guest stars as well as one of the finest one off characters of the series, Cassie is a deeply trouble yetremarkablyfascinatingteen-agedgirl who finds herself doomed to escape her death. With Azura's inspiring performance and powerfully written dialogue (especially her speech to Buffy and Xander outside her house), Cassie is soundeniably real and I can't image young girls who watched this episode not relating to her. Sure her vague, mysterious psychicpower is never explained but from her strong sense ofindividualityto her touching poetry and her amazing intuition, Cassie is acharacteryou can't help but root for. Even her relationship with Mike was well done. While it was a minor side plot point, there were so believable and you even feel bad for Mike knowing he and Cassie will never go to the dance together. it was It's a truly tragic moment that even after Buffy saves her not once but twice, that we find out absolutely nothing could have stopped Cassie from dying and Cassie was right all along.

    Like I said the main cast is great here, like James Masters, Sarah Michelle Gellar and Michelle Trachtenberg. I loved the moments where Cassie tells Spike that one day, she'll tell you and that one day Buffy will make a difference. It's thought provoking writing that foreshadows the series finale where Buffy in fact tells Spike she loves him and Buffy does make a difference, a HUGE difference by changing world by making all potential slayers throughout the world real slayers. I also loved the direction in certain scenes, like the sequence where the gang are hard at work trying to prevent Cassie's death while her poetry echoes through the background. Really stunning and artsy! Zachary Ty Bryan of Home Improvement fame guest stars as Peter, the student responsible for almost getting Cassie killed. It's a prettyforgettablerole for a pretty well known star at the time and the random demon that pops up during asacrificeritual reminded me of "Reptile Buy", which isn't good. The only good moments to come out of that were seeing Spike lose it on Peter, fighting through the pain from the chip, then the demon biting Peter and Buffy cleverly dismissing Peter's cry for help. But the moment that really gets me was the last scene with Buffy, Willow, Xander and Dawn. It's a tearjerker of a scene. Buffy coming to terms with knowing there was nothing she could have done to Dawn tearfully thanking Buffy for making Cassie her friend. Really riveting stuff. "Help" is the season's first stellar effort!moreless
  • "I think you underestimate your familiarity with the world of weird and tricky. This job's perfect for you" – Xander

    At a funeral home, a coffin creaks open, revealing.....oh, it's only Buffy clambering her way out of a coffin (again). You'd have thought that Buffy would have thought of infiltrating a funeral home before; it would save sitting around the cemetery all night. It's unclear as to why she's brought the gang with her, unless its purely for the comedy of Dawn trying to get out of the child-locked child's coffin.

    Meanwhile, back in the real world, Buffy gets her first case, the psychic, poetry-writing, doomed Cassie. Before we get to know her, we meet Amanda, future potential, who features instead of a running girl (they seem to have dropped that motif) and who deals with bullies by beating them up. Sounds like another teenage girl we knew. This is very much an old skool episode, with Dawn standing in for Willow (spying on Cassie), a Larry style doofus (Pete), an evil girl-killing sect, a list of suspects (male friend, dad, sect) that reminds me of Earshot, and reference to novels which give a clue to the ep (every death in Slaughterhouse 5 is foretold). Buffy is so anxious to do her new job that she gets over involved in Cassie's case. But she's Buffy the Counsellor now, she has to deal with deadbeat dads rather than vamps and she can't go around punching students in the face if they don't give her the information she wants (but she can kick them in the stomach when they turn out to be the leaders of evil sects). Buffy finds that she can't deal with everything, can't be everywhere, can't protect everyone. Like Joyce, Cassie suffers a natural death, something Buffy can do nothing about. But she tried, she made a difference to Cassie's life: Cassie knew that someone was there for her, and dying of a heart arrhythmia is surely better than being killed by demon-raising hooded idiots or being shot in the head by an arrow. Cassie, like Buffy in Prophecy Girl - the scared teenager who doesn't want to die, who wants to experience everything life has to offer, but knows she has to meet her fate - tells Buffy that "you will make a difference". In the upcoming fight, when it seems utterly pointless to carry on, Buffy keeps on trying. You have to keep on going, and Buffy is back at her desk at work the next day.

    Spike also keeps on trying. On our weekly visit to Insane in the Basement, he seems useless, mad. He wants to stop the voices in his head, but it's not schizophrenia caused by ensouled guilt about his victims, but the first evil and guilt about Buffy ("I hurt you, Buffy, and now I will pay") keeping him mad. But he finds the strength to help Buffy when she's fighting the demon and the sect, even prepared to beat Pete despite his chip setting off major pain. Spike knows he has to be punished for what he's done, but we see that he will get his reward as Cassie says to him: "Some day, she'll tell you".

    As for the rest of the gang, Anya is absent, probably preparing for next week's vengeance-fest, and Willow is still not fully included in the gang and is still whining about power-controlling, but she at least goes to Tara's grave and gets some good advice about hammers from Xander.moreless
  • Hey, i can do the eyebrow thing too! "She'll tell you."

    Wow! to this episode! It was amazing, my 2nd fave of season 7, i love it! Buffy gets into counselling at the new Sunnydale High and meets a young girl named Cassie, who tells Buffy she is going to die. How does she know this? She is physcic (is that how u spell it??) As Buffy tries to do all she can to save her it is no use because she is going to die anyway. Fantastic atmosphere, i tell you i love this stuff, one of the highlights of season 7.

    Quote of the episode: Cassie goes to Spike, "She'll tell you." Meaning Buffy will tell you that she loves you. Which she did in Chosen. Aahhhhhhhhhhhh! That's good stuff! :) :)moreless
Azura Skye

Azura Skye

Cassie Newton

Guest Star

J. Barton

J. Barton

Mike Helgenberg

Guest Star

Glenn Morshower

Glenn Morshower

Mr. Newton

Guest Star

Sarah Hagan

Sarah Hagan


Recurring Role

DB Woodside

DB Woodside

Principal Robin Wood

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (7)

    • During Buffy's first day seeing students, there is a goldfish in a bowl on top of her filing cabinet... sometimes. It is there with the boy in the hooded sweatshirt and Cassie, but not while she's talking to the girl with long hair who beat up a bully.

    • This episode is rich with references to the Scoobies own time as teenagers and as students at Sunnydale High School in the early seasons of the show. Willow relates that she posted a love poem or poems on the Internet "back in the day", Xander guesses they were about him. Then There is a scene when they are sitting at the table doing research where Xander hands Willow a picture of Cassie frolicking with Mike Helgenberg, apparently jumping on his back. It is strongly reminiscent of the picture of Willow frolicking with Xander, on his back, which she looks at while sitting in her room just before she gives Xander a call in Season 1's "Prophecy Girl".

    • Some of the promos for this episode referred to the show as "Buffy the Guidance Counselor."

    • After Buffy kicks Peter the second time and he falls he drops the knife and it's nowhere in sight. In the next shot he's holding it again, but when Buffy picks it up to throw at the demon she picks it up from where he first dropped it.

    • When talking to Cassie in the library, Dawn's hair is straight. When she gets home and talks to Buffy, Xander and Willow at the house, she has sections that have been curled.

    • When Cassie falls down, her head is upright, looking up at the ceiling, in the next scene her head is towards Buffy and then up again towards the ceiling.

    • In the scene where Buffy talks to the Principal after meeting Cassie, either her shirts neckline or her necklace changes length and then changes back while she's talking.

  • QUOTES (14)

    • Mr. Newton: So, is she screwing up her grades again? Because she's not the sharpest apple in the barrel.

    • Principal Wood: Talk like that is taken pretty seriously where I come from.
      Buffy: The hood?
      Principal Wood: Beverly Hills. Which is... a hood.

    • Peter: Who are you?!
      Spike: I'm a bad man!

    • Cassie: Summers... hey, are you the counselor's little sister?
      Dawn: No. She's my sister.

    • Josh: I'm worried that I'm gay.
      Buffy: Okay, first of all, I... I think it's great that you would come and talk to me about this. And second of all, you should know that there is nothing shameful about being gay, nothing.
      Josh: I-I know, it's just, I'm not positive, so uh, I was thinking that, why don't you go on a-a date with me so I can be sure? (He grins)

    • Cassie: I sit alone at my windowsill. Trees crackle, sunshine blares. And children laugh like death. Their sharp happiness is a knife to me. One jealous snake on a windowsill. They will be here, trees and sun... and children with canes and pruney skin. When I am but a memory, a laugh in the trees of time. I sit alone and try to love them. I sit alone, a snake. I sit alone and try to love them. I sit alone and laugh.

    • Xander: From beneath you it devours. It's not the friendliest jingle, is it? It's no, "I Like Ike", or "Milk: it does a body good."

    • Buffy: See? You can make a difference.
      Cassie: And you will.

    • Dawn: Uh huh, you didn't because you tried. You listened and you tried. She died because of her heart, not because of you. She was my friend because of you. I guess sometimes you can't help.
      Buffy: So then what? What do you do when you know that? What do you do when you know maybe you can't help?

    • Willow: Have you googled her yet?
      Xander: Willow! She's 17!

    • Spike: There's evil. Down here. Right here. I'm a bad man. William is a baaaaad man. I hurt the girl. I hurt you, Buffy, and I will pay. I am paying. Because I hurt the girl.

    • Cassie: How can you say that? You think I want this? That I don't care? Believe me, I want to be here, to do things. I want to graduate from high school. I want to go to the stupid Winter Formal. I have this friend, and it would be fun to go with him. Just to dance, hear lame music, to wear a silly dress and laugh and stuff. I'd like to go. There's a lot I'd like to do. You know, I'd love to ice skate at Rockefeller Center. And I'd love to see my cousins grow up, see who they become... cause they're really mean and I think they're gonna be fat. I'd love to backpack. Or, I don't know, fall in love. But I won't... I just... never will.

    • Buffy: (to Mike) You're asking my sister to the dance? And she's your second choice?

    • Cassie: (to Spike) She'll tell you... one day, she'll tell you.

  • NOTES (11)


    • Xander: It's not the friendliest jingle, is it? It's no "I like Ike" or "Milk, it does a body good".
      "I Like Ike" was the 1952 Presidential election campaign slogan of General Dwight D. Eisenhower (Ike was his nickname).

      "Milk, it does a body good" was the slogan of America's National Dairy Board in the 1980s.

    • Visual: Willow visits Tara's grave, places stones on headstone
      Willow is performing a Jewish ceremony of honoring the dead when visiting the grave of loved ones. Stones are placed on the headstone while reciting prayers for the dead to be at peace in the afterlife.

    • Character name: Cassandra ("Cassie")
      Cassandra was made a prophet by the god Apollo, but then was cursed so that no one would ever believe her prophecies, though they were always true. Among other things she foresaw her own murder, but couldn't prevent it.

    • Buffy: I bet it's 'cause you forgot the boombox playing some heavy metal thing like... Blue Clam Cult?
      Buffy is actually thinking of Blue Oyster Cult, a rock band made famous in the 1970's by the song "Don't Fear the Reaper."

    • Visual: Cassie reading
      Cassie is reading Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse Five. The novel is largely concerned with themes of free will vs. predestination - the protagonist Billy Pilgrim is "unstuck in time" and thus knows about some things before they happen (but is apparently powerless to change them).