Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Season 1 Episode 12

Prophecy Girl

Aired Tuesday 8:00 PM Jun 02, 1997 on The WB
out of 10
User Rating
943 votes

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Episode Summary

Giles discovers an ancient prophecy which states that Buffy will face The Master and she will die. Upon hearing this, Buffy breaks down and tries to quit her Slayer duties. But when vampires massacre a group of students on campus, she realizes that she must face her destiny in order to save her friends... and the world.moreless

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  • Buffy Defeats the Master

    Prophecy Girl was amazing season finale. Buffy has been prophezied to fight the Master. But when she finds out about it, after over hearing it from both Angel and Giles. She quits but soon comes back after hearing something about willow. Xander ends up going to Angel to find the lair where Buffy was to go. Only to find her unconscious. CPR brings her back a minute later and She defeats the Master. Love effects and music were amazing. I especially liked theme song being used when Buffy, Xander and Angel were heading for the school. The Season was great. Thank you Joss Whedon for creating Buffy. This shows love, friendship and family. Family isn't just blood related but can be people who love you and want to help you. The Scooby gang does for you.moreless
  • Season Finale

    Well, this season was great. Except two or three episodes that were too lame, this episode is just speechless. The confrontation between the Master and Buffy is epic. The screenplay and the direction were fabolous, thank you Joss Whedon for giving us twelve episodes full of action, fantasy, horror, and most of all, love, growing up and real friendship.
  • "Prophecy Girl"

    I probably wouldn't be as hard on the last two episodes if I hadn't also seen this episode on the same day. "Prophecy Girl" is a sterling example of how to write and direct this show. From the artful dissolves in the episode's opening and closing sequences to performances that feel more engaged, interactive and frequently heartrending, "Prophecy Girl" is an episode that knows exactly what it's doing and why. It looks right and feels right.

    And no wonderit's the last episode of Season One, and it's written and directed by the boss of all bosses, Joss Whedon. Most of "Prophecy Girl" has to do with wrapping up the first season's meta-plot and dispatching The Master, while also bringing back all the major characters and reiterating their significance. Cordelia, presumably softened up to Buffy and her cronies by the way they helped her out in "Out Of Sight," becomes integral to the action in "Prophecy Girl," delivering necessary warnings about the increased vampire activity around Sunnydale High, and even saving Willow's life at one point. Miss Calendar returns, to serve as Giles' peer and able assistant. And of course Angel is back, following up on his conversation with Giles in "Out Of Sight," and learning that according to the ancient texts, Buffy is doomed to die if she fights The Master. But if she doesn't fight himwell, then the world will probably end.

    It says something about the quality of this episode that its moments of highest drama have little to do with vampires. "Prophecy Girl" opens with Xander trying out his "go to the dance with me, Buffy" speech on Willow and completely muffing it, to her quiet delight. When he finally screws up the courage to ask Buffy out, her rejection of him is painful, especially after the heartfelt way he says, "I want to dance with But it's almost more painful when Xander asks Willow out as compensation, and she turns him down too, not wanting to be his second choice anymore.

    It also says something about the quality of this episode that Whedon includes so many scenes of people talking quietly with each other, without sacrificing any tension. After Giles reads the prophecy, he's genuinely touched to see that Buffy's still alive the next morning, though when she finds out her fate, she's so freaked out that she insists that she's done with slaying for good. Later, she talks with her mother, who thinks Buffy is troubled by the upcoming Spring Fling dance, and tells a story about meeting Buffy's dad at a school dance that she went to by herself.

    All of this chatter enriches the main action of "Prophecy Girl," in which Buffy does face off against The Master, and does diethough she's revived by Xander, who grabbed a cross and forced his romantic rival Angel to lead him to the Master's lair. A newly alive Buffy who feels "strong" and "different" struts back to Sunnydale High, where Willow, Cordelia, Giles and Miss Calendar have been holding off a horde of vampires, as well as a multi-tentacled creature that has emerged from a crack in the earth. Buffy arrives, stations Angel and Xander by the stairwell, and then heads up for a final confrontation with The Master that doesn't take very long to resolve.

    As I said, my qualms about this episode are minor, and mainly have to do with the story feeling a little compressed. I'm also not wild about the moment when Willow recalls seeing the student lounge littered with corpses and laments that, "It wasn't our world Too much overkill there, especially since none of our heroes spends even a moment mourning their dead classmatesnot even Cordelia, whose boyfriend is among the victims. And anyway, Whedon makes the same point much better earlie in a single image: a TV in the lounge, playing Porky Pig cartoons, smeared with a single bloody handprint.

    If you want one picture to sum up the mood and message of Buffy The Vampire Slayer's first season, that just may be it.moreless
  • Coming to understand the true brilliance of this show

    The first season finale of Buffy was a very dramatic and at times quite exciting episode. It was fun to see Cordelia spending time with the group. Bring on season 2..
  • Prophecy Girl

    "Prophecy Girl" is a flawed but decent wrap up in what amounts to a pretty uneven season. By focusing on the base elements of the series up to this point and amplifying the drama (until the end) we end up with a unique episode, at least by this season's standards. While several memorable scenes build to the episode's climax, it's the climax itself that can't keep up. I'm not sure what happened, but "Prophecy Girl" very noticeably weakens during its last act with a jarring shift towards the comical.

    The thing that strikes me as odd about the sloppy ending, which I'll get to a bit later, is that "Prophecy Girl" is so deliberate in its tone and filmmaking until then. Take the lovely opening scene, for example, where Buffy is fighting an ordinary vampire yet it is anything but ordinary in how it was shot. I can really tell that it's Whedon himself behind the camera in his Buffy directorial debut. All in slow-motion Buffy gets knocked on her back, gets back up, sees the "monster" grinning at her in anticipation, pulls out her hidden stake, sees the monster lose his smirk, and then gloriously grins herself. At this point the slow-motion fades away into real-time and Buffy dispatches the vampire with ease. This is all a very well-staged callback to the central idea behind the show about the girl victim not turning out to be as helpless as her attacker thought subversion is again the name of the day.

    While the opening scene nicely calls back to the base concept of the show, what "Prophecy Girl" is really about is sacrifice. This has been a recurring theme throughout the season, with both "Welcome to the Hellmouth" [1x01] and "Never Kill a Boy on the First Date" [1x05] touching on the issue more directly. After learning about some of the relatively smaller costs of sacrifice earlier, this is the first time Buffy's devotion is fiercely tested and it really puts her through her paces. There's this wonderfully subtle beat shortly before the emotional explosion in the library where we see Buffy grabbing a stake out of her locker as a bunch of happy students on their way to a sports practice walk by her. We just see Buffy take a moment to sigh and then walk the other way, towards the danger that awaits her all a nod to the sacrifices Buffy is making every day to save the unknowing people around her. This resonates so much precisely because of how it sets up her emotional reaction to the terrible news that follows.

    Buffy overhears this terrible news from afar. It sure produces one hell of a beat as Giles says that Buffy is prophesized to imminently "face the Master. And she will die." The fact that we know she does die, albeit only briefly, makes this entire scene that much more potent in retrospect. Gellar plays Buffy's reaction to this news with a tremendous amount of realism that still touches me today. We see an initial burst of laughter followed by a pang of concern, a burst of anger, and then tears. It all makes for a very tender moment and the first major hard-hitting emotional beat of the series. This scene is a complete success.

    Initially trying to evade the sacrifice fated of her, Buffy's just not ready or willing to accept death this easily. When she tears off the cross Angel gave to her in "Welcome to the Hellmouth" [1x01] and throws it on the ground we witness a clear symbolic moment. The cross, of course, is a symbol of sacrifice. This moment is her initial rejection of the sacrifice asked of her. The cross is also a symbol of salvation, though, which becomes relevant in the journey that awaits her.

    Trying to not only avoid the situation but actively run away from it entirely, Buffy tells her mom to leave town for the weekend with her (side note: there are some interesting parallels to Buffy's reaction to impending death here and Anya's journey with the same throughout the series). This leads to a nice conversation with her mother (about a school dance) and an analogy about how facing a bad situation can lead to unexpected and rewarding outcomes. Buffy also gets a pretty white dress in the process!

    After talking with her mom and learning about how vampires are encroaching further onto school grounds from a scared Willow, she accepts the purpose her role serves in this world, even if she doesn't like it. With only an adamant and noble Giles, who understands the stakes as well, in the way, Buffy punches him out and picks up her cross, thereby signifying her acceptance of what that symbol means. This is an important moment as she tells Giles "that's not how it goes. I'm the Slayer," which shows us that she's now beginning to take ownership of this incredible burden. My only quibble with this acceptance is the brevity in which it happens, but it's a defining moment nonetheless.

    When Buffy enters the Master's lair, some relevant words are exchanged. The Master tells her that she isn't the "hunter" but rather the (sacrificial) "lamb." While this statement is partially true, particularly in this precise moment, what's so amazing about Buffy is that, in reality, she's both. Buffy will come to sacrifice a lot in the years to come, but she will also become a much stronger fighter as well. The connection between the two is particularly relevant when looking ahead to Season 5's exploration of the nature of the Slayer and what Buffy learns from it. I'm reminded of, in particular, the thrilling season opening 'hunt' in "Buffy vs. Dracula" [5x01].

    The reality of the situation in the here and now, though, is a Buffy who has no control of herself due to the Master's paralyzing gaze. It's here where the Master breaks the bad news to her: it's her blood that allows him to go free! This is a brutal moment for Buffy in which we see a lone tear stream down her face right before she gets bitten. This moment is done in a way that has quite a sexual subtext a kind of violation of Buffy's innocence -- and plays as a nice and subtle setup for where the show's heading next season. All of this also goes to show how manipulative prophecies in the Buffyverse can be.

    The sacrificial theme of "Prophecy Girl" and how it relates to Buffy's growth is the very best of what the episode has to offer, but there are also a few other positives that warrant discussion. Xander asking Buffy out has been a long time coming for the season and the entire scene is written and performed just marvelously, making it all so achingly real. I can understand Xander's nervousness as it's really tough for some people to put themselves out there like that. As a detached viewer I have to admit that Xander's complete obliviousness to Buffy's disinterest in him is a little aggravating, but things look mighty different when I put myself in his shoes. Despite all the clues and hints from Buffy, Xander was crushing hard and needed the finality that Buffy gives him here. Rejection is never easy though, and I even feel bad for Buffy having to be the agent of rejection in this instance. At least she was as gentle and honest about it as she probably could have been.

    Another scene I appreciated was Willow's consolation of Xander, which ends up as yet another rejection for him. I found it fantastic that Willow stood up for herself and didn't just settle for being Xander's castoff date despite being absolutely wild over him. She tells him, "you think that's my idea of hijinks?" It's a great moment for Willow, and a not-so great one for Xander. The one thing in the world that's always there for Xander, though, is country music: "the music of pain."

    For all the positives that "Prophecy Girl" possesses, it's got some pretty notable flaws as well. For starters, there's the scene where Willow and Cordelia find some boys they know at school dead. While the scene itself is actually pretty creepy and does a good job at relaying the feeling that the demons are invading the safe places in the characters' world, I would have liked a lot more build-up to this moment in previous episodes. A moment like this could have resonated a lot more strongly if this feeling had felt like a slow burn.

    "Prophecy Girl" aims high and almost gets there, but it's missing the necessary buildings blocks to completely resonate. The complete collapse of the episode's measured tone in its final act also did a disservice to what was shaping up to be an excellent finale in a mediocre season. In the end I still feel we got a worthwhile and entertaining finale, but it's definitely not all it could have been. Even with all its mistakes, though, it ends up turning out to be one of the season's bests.moreless
Scott Gurney

Scott Gurney


Guest Star

Mark Metcalf

Mark Metcalf

The Master

Recurring Role

David Boreanaz

David Boreanaz


Recurring Role

Kristine Sutherland

Kristine Sutherland

Joyce Summers

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (12)

    • Nitpick: When Buffy is talking to Willow at Willow's house Buffy asked Willow to promise her that she would stay in that night. However, after Buffy punches Giles, Willow and Xander are at the library and are upset to learn that Buffy has gone to face the Master. Is it possible that Jenny or Giles called them or did Willow simply go back on her promise to Buffy?

    • The death of the Master is the first and only vampire death (in both Buffy and Angel) where bones were left afterwards. All other vampires have dissolved completely into dust, including their clothes (except for a plot point ring).

    • While the earthquake is happening, Xander and Willow run under the stairs at The Bronze. While they get under, you can see Alyson put her hand on the stairs. While her hand is on them, you can see people running down and you can actually see someone step on Alyson's fingers and hear her give a little scream.

    • Goof: When Buffy tells Giles and Angel that she is retiring from her Slayer duties, she yanks her cross necklace from her neck and throws it to the floor. Judging by both the angle and the force she used to pull it, the chain would undoubtedly break. But when Buffy comes back to the library, she sees the necklace sitting on the table and fastens it around her neck with no problem.

    • Ms. Calendar tells Giles that a monk from Cortona, Italy has been emailing her about recent demonic occurrences. Cortona is the same village in which the monks bound the Demon Moloch into a book. ("I Robot, You Jane" - 1x08) It is possible that the monk communicating with Ms. Calendar, belongs to the same brotherhood that fought Moloch many years ago.

    • Apparently Cordelia and Mitch's relationship dissolved right after the Marcie debacle ("Out of Sight, Out of Mind" - 1x11), because she is making out with Kevin at the beginning of this episode and seems to have really fallen for him.

    • Nitpick: There has been a significant earthquake the night before. There is structural damage to the library and possibly to other parts of the school. It seems likely that the authorities would keep the school (and other public buildings) closed until they have been determined to be safe to enter.

    • Goof: During Buffy's rooftop fight with the Master, her shoes change in between shots from white heels, to black boots when she's kicking him, back to white heels.

    • Nitpick: Apparently the automobiles in Sunnydale have Slayer healing powers too. Despite the fact that Cordelia smashed her car through Sunnydale High, there is not a single scratch or scuff on her car afterwards.

    • Goof: After the Master bites Buffy she falls into the water and lands with her arms under her and her hair tied into a ponytail. When Xander and Angel arrive her hair is loose and her arms are out to the sides. The water is too shallow for it to have removed the tie by itself and she couldn't have removed it herself because she was dead.

    • Nitpick: In the beginning of the episode, Buffy falls on her butt, and then gets up and proceeds to pull a really sharp stake from her shirt behind her back. With the fall and the pointiness of that stake, you'd think if would have broken or stabbed her.

    • Nitpick: In Giles' office, his calendar clearly reads June. Yet, everyone is getting ready for the May Spring dance.

  • QUOTES (28)

    • Buffy: You have fruit punch mouth.
      Master: What? (She punches him)

    • Buffy: Giles, care? I'm putting my life on the line battling the undead. Look, I broke a nail, okay? I'm wearing a press-on. The least you could do is exhibit some casual interest. You could go "hmm".

    • Buffy: Xander, you're one of my best friends. You and Willow...
      Xander: Well, Willow's not looking to date you. Or if she is, she's playing it pretty close to the chest.

    • Giles: Listen. Some prophecies are a bit dodgy. They're mutable. Buffy herself has thwarted them time and time again, but this is the Codex. There is nothing in it that does not come to pass.
      Angel: Then you're reading it wrong.
      Giles: I wish to God I were! But it's very plain! Tomorrow night Buffy will face the Master, and she will die.

    • Giles: You know how to get in touch with this Brother Luca chap?
      Ms. Calendar: As far as I can tell, no one can. He's disappeared. Did send out one last global though. A short one.
      Giles: What did it say?
      Ms. Calendar: Isaiah 11:6, which I dutifully looked up.
      Giles: "The wolf shall live with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the kid, the calf, the lion and the fatling together, and a little child to lead them."
      Ms. Calendar: That's kind of warm and fuzzy for a message of doom.
      Giles: That depends where he's leading them to. Aurelius wrote of
      the Anointed One, "The Slayer will not know him, and he will lead her into Hell."
      Ms. Calendar: So Luca thinks the Anointed is a kid?
      Giles: If the vampire that Buffy killed was, in fact, not the Anointed,
      then it may well be.
      Ms. Calendar: Well, then we need to warn her.
      Giles: I don't intend involving her at all.
      Ms. Calendar: What do you mean?
      Giles: Buffy's not going to face the Master. I am.
      Buffy: No, you're not.

    • Ms. Calendar: I'm sorry to bring this up, but we also have an apocalypse to worry about?
      Xander: Do you mind?
      Willow: (to Giles) How come she's in the club?

    • The Master: (to Buffy) You tried. It was noble of you. You heard the prophecy that I was about to break free and you came to stop me. But prophecies are tricky creatures. They don't tell you everything. (whispers) You're the one that sets me free. If you hadn't come, I couldn't go. Think about that.

    • Ms. Calendar: Well, what do we do now?
      Giles: I don't know about the rest of you, but I'd like to get out of this place. I don't like the library very much anymore.
      Xander: Hey! I hear there's a dance at the Bronze tonight. Could be fun.
      Cordelia: Yeah!
      Willow: Buffy?
      Buffy: Sure! We saved the world. I say we party! (looks down at her ruined dress) I mean, I got all pretty.

    • Giles: Buffy, I'm not going to send you out there to die. Now, you were right. I've waded about in these old books for so long, I've forgotten what the real world is like. It's time I found out.
      Buffy: You're still not going up against The Master.
      Giles: I've made up my mind.
      Buffy: So have I.
      Giles: I made up mine first!

    • Xander: How could you let her go?
      Giles: As the soon-to-be purple area on my jaw will attest, I did not let her go.

    • The Master: Yes! Yes! Shake earth! This is a sign! We're in the final days! My time has come! Glory! Glory!
      (Earthquake stops)
      The Master: (To the Anointed One) What do you think? Five point one?

    • Xander: How can I say this clearly? I don't like you. At the end of the day, I pretty much think you're a vampire. But Buffy's got this big old yen for you. She thinks you're a real person. And right now I need you to prove her right.
      Angel: You're in love with her.
      Xander: Aren't you?

    • Xander: You were looking at my neck!
      Angel: What?!
      Xander: You were checking out my neck! I saw that.
      Angel: No I wasn't!
      Xander: Just keep your distance, pal.
      Angel: (annoyed) I wasn't looking at your neck.
      Xander: I told you to eat before we left!

    • Cordelia: Willow, I really like your outfit.
      Willow: No you don't.
      Cordelia: No, I really don't, but I need a favor.

    • Buffy: I can't put it off any longer. I have to meet my terrible fate.
      Giles: What?
      Buffy: Biology.

    • Buffy: It doesn't matter as long as you're okay.
      Willow: I'm not okay. I knew those guys. I go to that room every day. And when I walked in there, it... it wasn't our world anymore. They made it theirs. And they had fun.

    • Buffy: (after hearing the prophecy that she will die) So that's it, huh? I remember the drill. One Slayer dies, next one's called. Wonder who she is. Will you train her? Or will they send someone else?
      Giles: Buffy, I...
      Buffy: They say how he's gonna kill me? (quietly) Do you think it'll hurt?

    • Buffy: I've got a way around it. I quit.
      Angel: It's not that simple.
      Buffy: I'm making it that simple. I quit. I resign, I-I'm fired, you can find someone else to stop The Master from taking over.
      Giles: I'm not sure that anyone else can. All the... the signs indicate...
      Buffy: The signs? Read me the signs! Tell me my fortune! You're so useful sitting here with all your books! You're really a lot of help!
      Giles: No, I don't suppose I am.
      Angel: I know this is hard.
      Buffy: What do you know about this? You're never gonna die!
      Angel: You think I want anything to happen to you? Do you think I could stand it? We just gotta figure out a way...
      Buffy: I already did. I quit, remember? Pay attention!
      Giles: Buffy, if The Master rises...
      Buffy: I don't care! I don't care... Giles, I'm sixteen years old. I don't wanna die.

    • Willow: Even I was bored. And I'm a science nerd.
      Buffy: Don't say that.
      Willow: I'm not ashamed. It's the computer age. Nerds are in. They're still in, right?

    • The Master: Ah, the feeble banter portion of the fight.

    • Xander: That's okay. I don't wanna go. I'm just gonna go home, lie down and listen to country music. The music of pain.

    • Angel: By the way, I really like your dress.
      Buffy: Yeah, yeah. Big hit with everyone.

    • The Master: You're dead!
      Buffy: I may be dead, but I'm still pretty. Which is more than I can say for you.

    • The Master: You were destined to die! It was written!
      Buffy: What can I say? I flunked the written.

    • Ms. Calendar: Okay, so this Master guy tried to open the Hellmouth. But he got stuck in it, and now all the signs are reading that he's going to get out, which opens the Hellmouth, which brings the demons, which ends the world.
      Giles: Yes. That about sums it up, yes.
      Ms. Calendar: The part that gets me, though, is where Buffy is the Vampire Slayer. She's so little.

    • Cordelia: (Cordelia bites a vampire's hand) Let's see how you like it!

    • Xander: On a scale of 1 to 10? It sucked.

    • Buffy: When he wakes up, tell him... I don't know. Think of something cool, tell him I said it.

  • NOTES (10)


    • Isaiah 11:6

      In this episode, one of Ms. Calendar's on-line colleagues uses Isaiah 11:6 to describe this particular "End of Days" scenario, which Giles is kind enough to quote for us. Ironically, Isaiah 11 is a prophesy of the coming of the Messiah; one who will come to save the world, rather than destroy it.

    • The Master: Where are your jibes now?

      This may be a reference to the play Hamlet by William Shakespeare. In the play, when Hamlet finds the skull of the old court jester, Yorick, he speaks to it saying, "Where be your jibes now, your gambols, your songs, your flashes of merriment that were wont to set the table on a roar?" (Act V, Scene i) This may imply that The Master is speaking to Buffy as to one who is already dead (which, in a sense, she is).

    • Xander: Calm may work for Locutus of the Borg here, but I'm freaked out and I intend to stay that way.
      In the TV show Star Trek: The Next Generation, the Borg are a race of emotionless cyborgs who travel around the galaxy assimilating other races. A well known episode concerns Captain Picard being assimilated and becoming a Borg known as "Locutus."

    • Buffy: What can I say? I flunked the written.

      Buffy plays off the Master's line "You were destined to die, it was written." While the Master was referring to written prophecy, Buffy teases him by evoking the idea of a written test which she has failed.

    • Buffy: Angel, better put on your game face.

      Buffy refers to Angel's vampiric appearance as his game face. Normally the phrase put on your game face is used metaphorically as preparing for a contest.

    • Xander: The polls are in, and it's time for my concession speech.

      Xander evokes the image of a politician on election night. When the exit polls indicate that a candidate has lost the election, the candidate will often give a concession speech to admit defeat and congratulate the winner.

    • Buffy: Look, I broke a nail, okay?
      I'm wearing a press-on. Fake fingernails, such as the infamous Lee Press-On Nails, are used to give the look of long fingernails.