Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Season 2 Episode 19

I Only Have Eyes For You

Aired Tuesday 8:00 PM Apr 28, 1998 on The WB
out of 10
User Rating
737 votes

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Episode Summary


As the Sadie Hawkins Dance nears, Buffy faces inner demons as she feels responsible for the loss of Angel's soul. Meanwhile, Sunnydale High is even more dangerous than usual as students and staff begin spontaneously reliving an old Sunnydale tragedy.

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  • I Only Have Eyes For You

    This is an absolutely riveting episode! There is flawless material at work here with perfect execution, and I find myself captivated by it every time. It is creepy, atmoshperic, has fantastic special effects, stunning cinematography, and a powerful message of forgiveness. What could have been just a boring ghost story was turned into an unusual and meaningful experience for Buffy.

    It begins with a sad, repressed, and alone Buffy looking down at her friends and others having a good time. This is an interesting correlation to her S6 arc where she's in a similar personal state. There are some huge parallels specifically to "Dead Things" (6x13) at work here. Buffy's mood in this episode reminds me of how, in "Dead Things" (6x13), she is looking down on the dance floor in a similar (although much darker) state of mind, again alone with her friends down below having a good time.

    Here in S2, though, she can still talk with her friends about her feelings as she does with Willow. Buffy tells her that she's done making impulsive decisions for a long while. In S6, it's the world and her friends she's hiding from when she has dispaired sex with Spike on the same balcony as she is standing on here. This entire episode is about forgiveness and the conclusion of "Dead Things" (6x13) involves Buffy crying in Tara's lap about feeling she, once again, doesn't deserve forgiveness for her questionable actions. In S2 she won't forgive herself for doing something that wasn't her fault (she didn't know Angel would lose his soul) while in S6 she won't forgive herself, once she realizes she didn't come back from the dead 'wrong,' for making real mistakes that are her fault.

    There are a lot of metaphors at work in this episode, and they are all handled with care and are not "in your face." Giles says, "See, uh, many times the spirit is plagued by all manner of worldly troubles. Being dead, it has no way to, uh, to make its peace. So it, it lashes out, growing ever more confused, ever more angry." Buffy quickly replies, "So it's a normal teenager, only dead." Most teenagers experience great bouts of confusion, anger, and happiness: aggressive manifestations of both sides of the emotional spectrum.

    The plot really captured my attention and imagination. I found the execution and directing of the plot stunning, and that's what really makes this episode much better than it could have been. It also has an aura of creepiness to it that really works. The special effects are wonderful as well, especially the sequence where the wasps are buzzing around the school and then suddenly separate to make a path so Buffy can enter the school.

    While all of what I've discussed is great, it's the ending sequence that really propells this episode into fantastic territory. Buffy thinks the ghost doesn't deserve forgiveness, but that's exactly what the ghost needs. The reason why Buffy feels this way is because she is exactly like the ghost. She badly needs to forgive herself for causing Angel to lose his soul, but she isn't willing to give it to herself. She wants to be punished for her action and thinks she doesn't deserve forgiveness.

    The ghost wants her because she's the only person it can truly identify with. Through possession she is able to forgive the ghost and the ghost is able to forgive her. It's so perfect that Angelus was possessed by the women, and that Buffy was possessed by the man who committed the tragedy. What the ghost is saying is directly applicable and meaningful for Buffy and Angel's situation as well. This entire scene is quite moving thanks to fantastic acting by both Sarah Michelle Gellar and David Boreanaz. There's also a beautiful song in this sequence in the background. Frankly, kudos to everyone involved with that scene.

    The episode wraps up back at the new mansion where Angelus is literally washing himself. He's complaining of being "violated by love." This is such an amusing sentiment, because many people think that love is often blinding and uncontrollable. If you twist that definition a bit, you can reach the word 'violating' to describe real love too. After Angelus and Drusilla wander off to kill people, Spike gets out of his wheelchair and announces he's back in business, and is extremely angry at Angelus. I love this entire episode: it's got chills, meaning, resonance, beauty, fantastic music, and power. How downright satisfying and tasty!moreless
  • The show that got DB his own series

    The Good;

    Lovely romance, lovely analogy of Buffy and Angel, Gile's mourning Jenny and a great tribute to the power of forgiveness. Wonderful scenes with Spike, Angelus and Dru too

    The Bad;

    Fairly little, a good ep although not a great one. Some pretty dodgy zombie makeup to be truthful

    Best line;

    Buffy; Something weird's going on!

    Xander; Isn't that our school motto?

    Character death;

    The teacher, another SDH faculty member bites the dust


    Angel(us) by Buffy

    Women good/men bad;

    Buffy's anger is focused at James, an obvious substitute for Angel. Cordelia is outraged at the idea of the Sadie Hawkins' dance, not a huge fan of gender equality, obviously.

    Questions and observations;

    Whenever a gun appears in Buffy it's never good. Always nice to see Shakespeare paraphrased in a US teen show. What happens to the janitor who shot the teacher? Presumably without Giles' testimony and no gun the charges against him are dropped. We have the first confirmation that Snyder and the police are in on the conspiracy regarding Sunnydale and first mention of the Mayor. Spike getting out of the wheelchair at the end speaks of great things to come.

    6/10 good ep without being brilliant,

  • Season 2, Episode 19.

    Sunnydale High staff and students begin reliving a tragedy that once struck the school.

    I loved this episode so much! It is my favorite episode of the series so far. "A person doesn't just wake up one day and stop loving somebody. Love is forever." The first sequence of that was awesome, although it was a little weird and confusing. Then as I was watching, I just figured it was going to be a boring episode with everybody doing that and the person would either get saved or die. But I was wrong. I LOVED seeing Buffy and Angel in that sequence. Sarah Michelle Gellar's performance was very powerful. I loved that scene so much! The best scene in the whole series! Then, she went up to the music room to kill herself like the original person did and Angel stopped her. The episode was perfect. Buffy and Angel even shared a passionate kiss. Awesome episode. Best episode of the series so far.moreless
  • I Only Have Eyes For You

    I Only Have Eyes For You was a great episode of Buffy revloving around ghosts or spirits stuck in their eternal loop. The story is of a woman teacher having a relationship with a male student. Things turn deadly as the ghosts relive their past while possessing current people in the school. This was an interesting story, and it was neat to see Angel and Buffy play out the scenario. It was also interesting to note that this is the first time, I believe, that the Mayor is mentioned and reacted to with fear. This episode also is the begining of Willow entering into the practice of magic. Another entertaining side story is Angel continually tormenting Spike by playing with Druscilla.moreless
  • Old lovers reunite...wth deadly consequences

    I have to admit, this is one of my all time favorite episodes of the season and of the series. The acting is really well done. David B and Sarah Michelle really pushed themselves here, especially David, who played a woman quite convincingly, and not at all over the top.

    This episode is also extremely important in the story arcs yet to come. It's the episode that convinced Joss Whedon that David Boreanaz could hold his own in an eponymous series, thus creating Angel; it sets up Spike wanting to get back at Angelus and Drusilla, making him decide to help Buffy in Becoming, and marking his beginning as a good guy; Willow is first warned about magics, or first uses them, can't quite remember. Either way, that becomes her major arc. I didn't really like all the poltergeist-ish stuff, like the bees and snakes, but I can easily get over that. It's not so bad that I wouldn't watch this episode again and again.moreless
Miriam Flynn

Miriam Flynn

Ms. Frank

Guest Star

Brian Poth

Brian Poth

Fighting Boy

Guest Star

Sarah Bibb

Sarah Bibb

Fighting Girl

Guest Star

James Marsters

James Marsters


Recurring Role

Juliet Landau

Juliet Landau


Recurring Role

Armin Shimerman

Armin Shimerman

Principal Snyder

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (8)

    • Nitpick: Willow says that Ms. Calendar had lesson plans saved on her computer, but we saw Angel smash it in the episode "Passion".

    • Goof: The snake bite Cordelia has on her face is wrong for the type of snake that bit her. The wound is two puncture holes typical of a large fanged venomous snake such as a rattlesnake. However, the snakes that appeared in the lunchroom were nonvenomous kingsnakes and ratsnakes, which have numerous small teeth, not large fangs. Cordelia's bite wound should have been nothing more than a few tiny holes.

    • Goof: The Scoobies were to light the candles for the spell at midnight. But when they regroup later in the library, the clock says 9:10, but it is still dark.

    • Goof: Notice at the end when Buffy and Angel are kissing (in the wide shot) Buffy is holding Angel at the waist, and then in the next shot she is holding her hand by his neck.

    • Nitpicks: When Giles goes to save Willow from the floor, he runs past the trophy case and when he goes up the stairs you see a snack machine behind him. But when they run out of the school you can see Buffy and Cordelia run past the same trophy case, Giles and Willow run through a door to get near the snack machine, and Xander comes out from somewhere slightly in front (but more beside) it ("it" being the snack machine). Giles and Willow shouldn't have had to run through a door to get to where they were. They were already there. Also, Xander should have been able to hear Willow screaming from where he was.

    • Goof: When the yearbook in Snyder's office falls off the shelf, it lands open. When Buffy reaches down to pick it up, however, it is closed.

    • Goof: After Buffy goes into the wasp-surrounded school, the camera cuts to a reaction shot of Giles and the others. It's a shot taken from an earlier sequence: you can just make out Buffy's legs.

    • Goof: In 1955 James plays "I Only Have Eyes For You" but it's actually The Flamingos' version which was released in 1959.

  • QUOTES (13)

    • Willow: So what do we do, Giles? About James?
      Giles: Well, he's obviously reliving the night of the Sadie Hawkins dance, when he killed Ms. Newman. It's common enough for a spirit to do this. To recreate a tragedy.
      Cordelia: Hey! If Sunnydale High School shuts down forever, do we automatically graduate?
      Xander: But why? What does he want? Actually... that's an interesting point.

    • Xander: Something weird is going on. Isn't that our school motto?

    • Giles: He's, he's trying to... resolve whatever issues are keeping him
      in limbo. What exactly those are, I'm not...
      Buffy: He wants forgiveness.
      Giles: Yes. I imagine he does. But when James possesses people, they act out exactly what happened that night. So he's experiencing a form of purgatory instead. I mean, he's doomed to kill his Ms. Newman over and over and over again, and... Forgiveness is impossible.
      Buffy: Good. He doesn't deserve it.
      Giles: To forgive is an act of compassion, Buffy. It's not done because people deserve it. It's done because they need it.
      Buffy: No. James destroyed the one person he loved the most in a moment of blind passion. And that's not something you forgive. No matter why he did what he did. And no matter if he knows now that it was wrong and selfish and stupid, it is just something he's gonna have to live with.
      Xander: He can't live with it, Buff. He's dead.
      (Buffy walks out of the room and into the kitchen)
      Cordelia: Okay. Over identify much?

    • Buffy: Impulsive? Do you remember my ex-boyfriend, the vampire? I slept with him, he lost his soul, and now my boyfriend's gone forever, and the demon that wears his face is killing my friends. The next impulsive decision I make will involve my choice of dentures.

    • Willow: Everything seems normal. Not a snake, not a wasp.
      Cordelia: Yup. School can open tomorrow.
      Xander: Explain to me again how that's a good thing?
      Cordelia: I'm drawing a blank.

    • Willow The only solution is the final solution.
      Xander: Nuke the school? I like that.
      Willow: Not quite. Exorcism.
      Cordelia: Are you crazy? I saw that movie. Even the priest died.

    • Buffy: What do we know?
      Xander: Dog spit is cleaner than human.
      Buffy: Besides that.

    • Giles: I think it's very clear what's happening.
      Xander: Fill me in then. 'Cuz I've read the book, seen the movie, and I'm still fuzzy about what's going on.

    • Spike: It's paradise. Big windows, lovely gardens. It'll be perfect when we want the sunlight to kill us.
      Angelus: You don't like it Spike, hit the stairs and go. Take a stand, man.

    • Xander: I'll have you know I was just accosted by some kind of... locker monster.
      Giles: Loch Ness Monster?
      Buffy: "Locker Monster" is what he said, but it wasn't really a monster. It was, like, this big arm that came out of the locker. But then we opened it again, it was gone. Nothing.
      Giles: Ooh! Sounds like paranormal phenomena!
      Willow: A ghost? Cool!
      Xander: Oh, no, no. No. No cool. This was no wimpy chain rattler. This was "I'm dead as hell and I'm not gonna take it any more."
      Giles: Well, despite the Xander-speak, that's a fairly accurate description of a poltergeist.
      Xander: I defined something? Accurately? Guess I'm done with the book learnin'.

    • Buffy: (as James) You're the only one. The only person I can talk to.
      Angelus: Gosh, Buff. That's really... pathetic.

    • Xander: He killed a person and killed himself. Those are pretty much two of the dumbest things you could do.
      Willow: I know, but... Well, don't you feel kind of bad for them?
      Buffy: Sure I feel lousy. For her. He's a murderer and he should pay for it.
      Willow: With his life?
      Buffy: No, he should be doing sixty years in a prison, breaking rocks and making special friends with Roscoe the Weightlifter.
      Xander: Yikes. The quality of mercy is not Buffy.

    • James: Don't walk away from me bitch!

  • NOTES (12)

    • This episode is fourth in Joss Whedon's list of his top ten favorite episodes according to his personal letter included in the Australian Chosen Collection Box-set. However the episodes on this top ten list are not ranked, but rather put in order of which episode aired first, so that does not mean that this is his fourth favourite episode, it is just the fourth episode in air-date order.

    • The idea of ghost lovers possessing people and having forgiveness and a kiss be the key to their passing on was present in The Real Adventures of Johnny Quest episode, "Ghost Quest" in which Johnny and Jessie are both possessed by lovers who killed each other out of jealous rage and cannot forgive each other even after death.

    • The scene where Angelus and Buffy get possesed by the spirits had to be re-shot several times due to Sarah Michelle Gellar. It was the last day of shooting "I Only Have Eyes For You" and SMG had a short break down because she was too tired.

    • This episode originally aired with a public service announcement at the end regarding teen suicide. Co-sponsored by Cedars Sinai Medical Center's TeenLine and the American Association of Suicidology, the PSA was voiced over by Sarah Michelle Gellar.

    • The title of this episode comes from a song which plays in it by The Flamingos.

    • The scene when ghosts Grace and James take over Angelus and Buffy's bodies was originally filmed with Meredith Salenger and Christopher Gorham. This was so that the film could be watched and mimicked by Sarah Michelle Gellar and David Boreanaz when they filmed it.

    • Snyder reveals that he and other adults know that the town is on a Hellmouth.

    • Christopher Gorham later on went on to star on Jake 2.0, a show ran by David Greenwalt for Fall 2003.

    • Brian Reddy reprises his role from "School Hard" as the Police Chief.

    • According to Joss, when Angelus and Buffy are doing the speech, David did such a great job delivering those lines he realized that, "this guy can handle his own show".

    • In this episode the speech between Angelus and Buffy could be looked upon as some sort of spoiler for "Graduation Day part 1 and 2".

    • Guest Star Meredith Salenger's last name was misspelled as 'Salinger' in the opening titles of the episode.

  • ALLUSIONS (11)

    • Willow: You came, you saw, you rejected
      Willow is probably referencing the famous quote of Julius Cesar, "Veni, Vidi, Vici" which means I came, I saw, I conquered.

    • Xander: Yikes. The quality of mercy is not Buffy.
      This is a reference to the Shakespeare play The Merchant of Venice. The actual quote, from Act 4, Scene 1 is:
      "The quality of mercy is not strain'd,
      It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
      Upon the place beneath. It is twice blest:
      It blesseth him that gives and him that takes."
      It is an allusion to how the quality of mercy is a natural and gracious quality and not a legal one and is directly the opposite of compulsion

    • Title: "I Only Have Eyes For You"
      This is a reference to the famous song by Harry Warren and Al Dubin, which has been recorded by Frank Sinatra and many others, most famously by The Flamingos. Art Garfunkel had a hit with it in 1975. It was originally written in 1934 for Dames a show with Ruby Keeler and Dick Powell.

    • Xander: This was, 'I'm dead as hell, and I'm not going to take it anymore.'
      This is a reference to the 1976 movie Network in which a news anchor successfully convinces viewers to open their windows and shout "I'm mad as hell, and I'm not going to take it anymore."

    • Spike: All hat and no cattle.
      This likely refers to those who wear cowboy hats but are not cowboys.

    • Cordelia: Are you crazy? I saw that movie. Even the priest died.
      Cordy refers to the famous 1973 horror movie The Exorcist.

    • Buffy: Now we're Dr. Laura for the deceased.
      Dr. Laura is Laura Schlessinger a widely know radio show host who offers advice to callers.

    • Xander: A little case of chalkboard Tourettes.
      Tourettes Syndrome is a neurological disorder that compels the sufferer to make sudden outburst of movement or speech. The most sensationalized cases involve shouting obscene or otherwise inappropriate words.

    • Snyder: I'm no stranger to conspiracy. I saw JFK.
      The 1991 Oliver Stone movie about the assassination of president John F Kennedy purports that there was a complex conspiracy involved.

    • Buffy: You just went OJ on your girlfriend.
      In reference to the famed case where OJ Simpson (allegedly) killed his ex-wife.

    • Buffy: You mean the Sadie Hawkins thing?
      A Sadie Hawkins dance is one where the women must ask the men in a reversal of traditional roles. "Sadie Hawkins Day" originally came from the comic strip "Li'l Abner". Every year, they held the Sadie Hawkins Day Race, in which the guys are given a head-start; then, the girls chase after them, and get to "keep" whoever they catch.