Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Season 7 Episode 8


Aired Tuesday 8:00 PM Nov 19, 2002 on The WB
out of 10
User Rating
458 votes

By TV.com Users

Episode Summary

After battling a new vampire who claimed to have been recently sired by Spike, Buffy warns the gang that they must keep a close eye on him. When Spike manages to go out, he falls into a mysterious trance and then seduces and attacks a girl as the First Evil looks on. Meanwhile in England, Giles finds a fellow watcher close to death.moreless

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  • "Sleeper" does an surprisingly admirable job of following through with what was started in "Conversations with Dead People"

    Although not nearly as strong or inventive as "Conversations," it's a very respectable and solid follow-up that goes out of its way to begin showing us the scope of the First's ambitious plans and its influence around the world. "Sleeper" is able effortlessly maintain a very slick pace that had a very firm grasp of my attention. Besides just striking the perfect tone, it also has some powerful character moments such as when Buffy confronts Spike about his evening activities, and when Buffy chooses to spare Spike's life despite the fact he's been killing again -- albeit beyond his control -- and wants to be dusted for it. Personally, I feel this is a very underrated episode.

    Right when the episode begins, the writers give me a happy by picking up immediately after the events of I particularly appreciated Willow's early conversation with Dawn about what they both saw; both of their reactions rang very true to me. Willow was almost fooled by a very demonic presence while Dawn was left trying to convince herself that her mom really talked to her. There wasn't anything obvious to make Dawn doubt the message, but Willow tells Dawn to express caution, and to not trust what she saw. The First's message to Dawn is so convincing, though, that it's almost impossible not to believe it.

    Buffy comes knocking on Xander's door at 4:30 in the morning asking about Spike. Xander asks if he's in trouble. Buffy, with a very concerned look on her face, says, "I hope If Spike is in trouble, of his own will, then that would mean her gut feeling about his newfound soulful potential is woefully misplaced, and has lead to dire consequences. Her reaction in this opening scene feels immediate, relevant, and real.

    The conversation continues with Xander doing his best to not judge Spike unfairly -- to be objective guy. Buffy, although at first trying to bring up objective points on her own in Spike's defense, then just shakes her head and says, "No, mm-mmm. There's something. I can feel it. He's different. He's When Spike arrives back at Xander's, Buffy questions him but doesn't really get anything conclusive. What makes the situation so difficult is the fact that non-triggered Spike genuinely can't remember what he's done at this point.

    This leads to a scene where Buffy is following Spike in a crowd of people outside, trying to find out what, if anything, he's up to. This sequence is really well-executed with a tense atmosphere, an excellent score, and genuinely invested stakes. Buffy, as a show, is simply so well built-up from existing pieces that even a scene like this one turns into something captivating to watch. On any other show this would be a fairly boring run-of-the-mill scene, but here it's actually captivating.

    When Buffy charges into Spike's room with a boatload of serious accusations later that evening, after losing him in the street, Spike tries to defend himself even though he begins to suspect something's not right. Their entire ensuing argument is loaded with some very important and emotional insights. Buffy's pushing him into revealing that he does, indeed, spend time with ladies during the night, "But that's all it is is time, 'cause, God help me Buffy, it's still all about He also emotionally says, "As daft a notion as Soulful Spike the Killer is, it is nothing compared to the idea that another girl could mean anything to me. This chip, they did to me. I couldn't help it. But the soul, I got on my own... for Wow. How is Buffy even supposed to respond to that, especially when it's so obvious Spike is being genuine?

    Later in the basement of the home Spike's been storing his victims, the First triggers him to attack Buffy. He has the perfect opportunity to kill Buffy here. But at the taste of her blood, he remembers everything and snaps out of it, in complete abhorrent shock. The blood bringing Spike back to his senses was a little awkward in clarity when I initially thought about it, but it started to make more sense when I thematically connected it to S5's blood theme, even harkening back to Buffy snapping out of Dracula's thrall after tasting his blood in "Buffy vs. Dracula". The consistent imagery in regard to the power of blood makes this work.

    When Spike exposes his chest for staking, expecting Buffy to do the job both Spike and the First expects her to do, I can't help but feel a bit emotionally torn. Nothing that happened in this basement was Spike's fault -- he was being completely controlled by a manevolent and manipulative force, and there was not a reasonable thing he could have done to prevent it with the knowledge he had. Thankfully, Buffy sees it clearly as well -- she's smart in that she understands Spike was being used, and that the same force that is out to get all of them is likely the one manipulating Spike. This makes for quite a powerful scene where we see a huge blow dealt to the First. It knows that trust and compassion are very dangerous tools against its power.

    Spike is actually a bit sad when Buffy won't kill him -- a part of him is in too much pain to keep going, which somewhat parallels what Buffy went through last season. Getting his soul back has been difficult enough, but having the First's manipulations on top of it is understandably driving the guy nuts. And how 'bout that James Marsters? This guy is a really tremendous actor, and S7 gives him a ton of opportunities to flex those acting muscles. He's just phenomenal in "Sleeper," ranging from being terrifying to mysterious to heart-breaking to hilarious.

    One thing I admire about "Sleeper" beyond what I've already said is that, despite the dire tone, it still makes time for the funny. The scene where Anya snoops around Spike's room while he's sleeping is utterly hilarious. It begins genuinely tense, but then abruptly switches to comedy in a way only Buffy can seem to do right. Once again, Anya ends up providing pure comedy gold. Thank you for existing, Emma Caulfield! I also admire Spike's restraint here -- he very well knows the hurt his actions back in "Entropy" [6x18] caused people, especially Xander. This is a stark contrast to pre-soul Spike, who probably would have given into the opportunity, regardless of the consequences, or as Anya hilariously states, "soulless Spike would have had me upside down and half-way to happy land by

    The cliffhanger with the axe going for Giles' head is incredibly effective because this show is well known for its abrupt killings of main characters -- I honestly wouldn't put it past Whedon to do something like that. It also baits me, as a viewer, into desperately wanting to see the next episode. So while I don't have any problems with it here, I'm not nearly as wild about the follow-up to this moment. More on that later.

    "Sleeper" has a mix of all the right ingredients for a wonderful episode, while making next to no mistakes; it certainly didn't make any major mistakes. Although it's not a mind-blowing, intellectually complex and/or challenging episode, it exceeds at progressing the Season 7 arc in a way that stems from the characters' decisions in crucial situations. Buffy's faith in Spike and acceptance of his plea for help is not only powerful, but also the beginning of what will build into an amazing connection between the two of them leading to Spike's stunning redemption. Overall, it's an excellent well-rounded episode backed by some great performances.moreless
  • The Sunnydale Candidate


    The Good;

    Love the gag that Billy Idol stole his image from Spike rather than the other way around. Some very effective horror and some nice comedy with Anya and Spike .

    The Bad;

    Nothing bad but this is a bridging episode

    Best line;

    Anya; "If I get bitten I'm going to come back as a vampire and bite your ass!"

    Xander (smiling) "Wouldn't be the first time"

    Women good/men bad;

    When Spike rejects her Anya fears she's fat? (One of my favourite aspects of Terminator;SCC was Cameron's attempts to fit in as an American high school girl which she largely mastered by remembering the phrases "Bitchwhore much?" and "Does this make me look fat?")


    Spike biting pretty coeds

    Kinky dinky;

    Naked Spike under the sheets. Anya suggests some kinky stuff with the stake and says unsouled Spike would have her upside down and halfway to her happy place when souled Spike rejects her. Spike has no problem picking up women who seem a satire on the Spikettes. Xander seems to have a pornographic magazine on his table when Spike walks out. The bouncer is happy to let a girl as hot as Buffy in the club for free. She describes Spike as sallow but in a hot way. See also best line.

    Captain Subtext;

    The vamp at the Bronze suggests she'll take the boy and Spike can take the girl or 'the other way around'.

    Apocalypses; 7,

    Scoobies in bondage: Spike at the end for the first time since he became a Scooby.

    Buffy: 8

    Giles: 4

    Cordy: 5

    Will: 4

    Jenny: 1

    Angel: 4

    Oz: 1

    Faith: 3

    Joyce: 1

    Wes: 1

    Xander; 2

    Dawn; 4

    Spike; 1

    Scoobies knocked out: Xander by Spike

    Buffy: 19

    Giles: 12

    Cordy: 6

    Xander: 15

    Will: 8

    Jenny: 2

    Angel: 6

    Oz: 3

    Faith: 1

    Joyce: 3

    Wes: 1


    Dawn; 4

    Tara; 1

    Kills: 1 vamp Spike, 7 vamps for Buffy (will she reach the magic 200 kills before the end of the series?)

    Buffy: 117 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; 9 vamps and 6 demons

    Buffybot; 2 vamps

    Tara; 1 demon

    Dawn; 1 vamp + 1 demon

    Scoobies go evil: Spike and how

    Giles: 1

    Cordy: 1

    Will: 3

    Jenny: 1

    Angel: 1

    Oz: 1

    Joyce: 1

    Xander: 4

    Anya; 1

    Dawn; 1

    Buffy; 1

    Spike; 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; another 2 civies


    Total number of scoobies: 6,

    Xander, Buffy, Dawn, Willow, Anya, Spike

    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. 2 possible, Dracula+RJ(?)

    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; 13

    Dawn the bashful virgin; 9

    Questions and observations;

    Xander refers to CSI (another point against Normal Again being true). He also remembers Holden Webster from SDH referring to him as 'Webs' (but then he'd have gone to school with him longer than Buffy did). One assumes the harmonica player Buffy passes is The First as he plays 'early one morning' and The First knows what Buffy is wearing when it appears later. Aimie Mann is great and she plays one of my favourite tunes from the Radio Sunnydale album. Oddly the vamp at the Bronz speaks of her and Spike being 'soul mates'. Vamps in the basement are very Evil Dead. What's the First's plan for them, is it just building an army to try and take over Sunnydale?

    Marks out of 10; 7/10

  • The One Bite Stand

    Sleeper-After battling a new vampire who claimed to have been recently sired by Spike, Buffy warns the gang that they must keep a close eye on him. When Spike manages to go out, he falls into a mysterious trance and then seduces and attacks a girl as the First Evil looks on. Meanwhile in England, Giles finds a fellow watcher close to death.

    As a direct follow-up to "Conversations With Dead People", "Sleeper" may not be as cleverly potted or a classic in it's own right, but it maintains the menacing feel and dark twists. Spike's new found ability to kill causes tension in the Scooby Gang, especially Buffy who plans to stop Spike by any means necessary. James Masters once again gives a stellar performance as Spike goes through a variety of emotions this episode. From his nonchalant attitude toward Buffy when he talks about her last encounter with a vampire to his utter horror over what he's done the past few weeks. Then there was the sequence of Buffy following him, leading to a pretty cool twist when Buffy approaches Spike and tells him to pretty much kill the girl he's with. It's obviously the First, but the way the scene plays out is just chilling, Sarah Michelle Gellar is great at playing menacing. The following scene is also exceptional work from both Sarah and James, as Buffy confronts Spike about the whereabouts of the girl he was just with. From Buffy being feed up and pissed to Spike's disbelief and uncertainty, the scenes between these two always gel together so well andy ou can see that Spike is not the man he once was.

    I also loved the humorous scenes in this episode, especially with Anya. Her reaction to watching Spike after finding out he's killing people again was hilarious as well as when Spike catches her snooping through his things. The fact that she tries to have sex with Spike to cover her tracks is priceless. Then there's the moment Spike knocks out Xander fighting through the pain. Although, I felt Spike's investigation at the Bronze was kind of a weak point. When he runs into a vampire he recently sired it turns into a prettyhookyfight....and not in a good way. Also, the actress' delivery of "So that's all I was? A one bite stand!" always rubbed me the wrong way. Usually the writers are good with pulling off this kind of clever, silly(ish), but the execution was all wrong! Although, I did love the off handed comment by the lead singer coming off the stage at the Bronze about playing vampire towns! lol The episode concludes with an intense brawl with Buffy and Spike's latest victims coming back from the dead. It's a pretty awesome fight, where Buffy shows just how GOOD she's become as a slayer. We've seen her dustmultiplevampiresbefore but it's always awesome to see how effortless she makes it seem. I also loved the moment where before staking the last vampire who is an elderly woman, Buffy apologizes and tells her it's her job! Only scene like that on Buffy work! Now with Spike being unstable again, Buffy plans to watch her as well as the rest of the gang. Overall, "Sleeper" is dark, chilling episode with nice fake-outs, strong performances from James and Sarah as well as a great fight sequence toward the end. The arc is continuing nicely!moreless
  • "I think I've done some very bad things" - Spike

    After an almost Spike-less episode, we have the start of Spike's journey from would-be rapist to ensouled Christ-like figure. In this episode, we see him killing again, but it also shows that his soul is working; his murderous days are over.

    So why has Spike turned back to his old vampire ways – has he lost his chip, his soul, his mojo? Or is he controlled by an old folk tune and Buffy-as-the-First. In the aftermath of Conversations with Dead People, Buffy (the Slayer) leads an investigation, whilst Willow comforts Dawn re: the whole Joyce-as-Poltergeist deal. Dawn wants to believe that "Joyce" was lying about Buffy not choosing her, but it seems that just as Holden wasn't fibbing about Spike being his sire then Joyce-as-the-First might also be telling the truth. It's a little confusing, but then again, it's meant to be. We see Spike turn down Anya's proposition (who doesn't seem to be faking the sexual interest too much, as she tells him: "You were a lot more fun without a soul") but go out to pick up chicks, in the last ep we saw him murder a woman but in this, he tell Buffy that he can't be killing again: "The taste of human blood – that I'd remember". Xander thinks Spike is faking the chip pain, this comes back to bite Xand in the bum as we see Spike's agony as he punches Xander in the face.

    Spike is a sleeper in both the sleeper agent sense in that he's awakened by the folk tune, but he is also literally a sleeper, sleepwalking through his part which is presumably why he is inured to the chip whilst biting his victims.

    Getting flashbacks, Spike starts to investigate himself, finding his "one-bite stand" in the Bronze, who quickly turns into a one fight stand. People are so used to vamp-fights in the Bronze now that they don't even watch it. Even Aimee Mann is blasé about the scrap ("Man, I hate playing vampire towns".)

    Spike finds himself going mad in the basement again as his sired bodies start to rise and he is caught between his soul & his love for Buffy, and his vamp self (portrayed by his vamp self) and Buffy-as-the-First – four sides of the same Spike coin. His id and his ego duke it out whilst Buffy has to unwittingly overcome the TFE portrayal of her, the Buffy (tender, kind, wicked) that Spike wants to see.

    We realise that Spike's insanity was not caused by his new soul but by his hallucinations of the First. At the same time Buffy figures out that dead people also appear to Spike, that he's being lied to as well. This, to Buffy, proves his humanity and she tells him: "There's something playing with us. All of us." This is a major step forward as Buffy accepts him as "us", not an evil nemesis, not a useful snitch, not as a babysitter nor a sex toy, but part of the gang. Spike for his part, feels his soul when licking Buffy's blood:- instead of inflaming his blood-lust it brings him back to his new self. The thing he wanted so much as a soulless vamp is now the thing that awakens the William side of him once more.

    TFE seems to have vastly under-estimated Spike and the Slayer's relationship. It looks disappointed when Buffy says she'll help her former paramour. It threatens "She's gonna kill you", viewing the ties that bind Buffy to Spike as, at best, weak. Buffy doesn't kill Spike because he has already been punished by his guilt and he is prepared to be chastised further for it by dying. He preps his chest for her stake - the thing Buffy wanted for so long is now not what she wants. Instead, she sees his soul, his remorse, his humanity.

    And a mislead ending!moreless
  • the season goes to hell

    the season really sucks from now on. this episode is only about spike being crazy and killing people. some good acting but my god. still so bad. anya trying to have sex with spike was the only scene when you dont want to kill urself.

    dont watch this episode. better then stop watching the season from now on.

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (9)

    • When Spike moves into Xander's apartment earlier in the season, Xander says "I know it looks like a closet, but it's a room now", insinuating that he's made a "room" for Spike in a closet. But in this episode, when Anya is snooping, we see that Spike's "room" has its own closet and is fairly large -- it even has a separate door to the bathroom.

    • Everyone in the Bronze sees a vamp being dusted in front of them, pauses for a moment, then continues as normal. This shows how just about everyone in Sunnydale is now aware of the existence of Vamps (well at least those that frequent the Bronze).

    • In this episode we find out that Billy Idol stole his image from Spike (or at least that Buffy believes this to be true).

    • When Anya is on top of Spike saying "take me now", Spike's head is leaning back and Anya's arms are free. The camera pulls back and Spike's head is now upright and his hands are holding both of Anya's upper arms.

    • While Anya is trying to convince Spike that the real reason she is in his bedroom is for sex, Spike keeps moving up toward the head of the bed away from her clutching the blue top sheet around himself. The sheet becomes bunched up around Spike's waist area. However, in the next shot as Anya gets up on the bed with Spike we see his legs fully extended underneath her and the sheet flatly in place covering the bottom of the bed up to his torso.

    • In the late afternoon, Anya's curiosity and boredom get the better of her. She rises from the couch, walks towards Spike's closed bedroom door, hesitates for a moment in front of it, and then walks into Spike's room to search for clues. Standing in front of the closed door, she has no weapon having left the stake on the coffee table. Yet when she is shown walking through the doorway moments later, she holds the stake in her right hand.

    • Near the beginning, when Buffy calls in at Xander's apartment looking for Spike after being told he Sired Holden Webster, you can see the shadow of someone's face on the wall behind Xander when he's telling Buffy he doesn't know where Spike is and that Spike's a creature of the night. It can't be Buffy's or Xander's, so it's most likely a member of the crew.

    • How did all the vampires just manage to rise at the exact same time considering they were Sired over the period of several days?

    • In the last episode, Spike kills a blond woman. Then buries her in the basement. However when all the vampires rise, the blond woman is no where in sight.

      This might be because Spike only killed her, but didn't take the necessary ritual steps to sire her.

  • QUOTES (11)

    • Bouncer: Hey, Sweetheart. If you wanna go in, go ahead.
      Buffy: Actually, I need some help. I'm looking for this guy. Bleach-blond hair, leather jacket, British Accent. Kind of sallow, but in a hot way?
      Bouncer: Yeah, yeah, I know the guy. Billy Idol wannabe.
      Buffy: Actually, Billy Idol stole his look from... never mind. Has he been here?

    • Anya: Soulless Spike would have had me upside down and halfway to happyland by now.

    • Spike: As daft a notion as soulful Spike the killer is, it is nothing compared to the idea that another girl could mean anything to me. This chip, they did to me. I couldn't help it. The soul I got on my own. For you

    • Spike: (After Buffy insinuates Spike is killing again.) You know I can't.
      Buffy: Right. The Chip.
      Spike: No, not the chip. Not the chip dammit. You honestly think I'd go to the end of the underworld and back to get my soul and then-- Buffy, I can barely live with what I did. It haunts me. All of it. If you think that I would add to the body count now, you're crazy.

    • Anya: It's not like I'm snooping around for proof that you're some sort of whacked-out serial killer. I don't know why I said that. Forget I said that. It's craziness talking, it's just nerves. Nerves. Nerves and horniness. Oh, just shut up, William, and take me. Take me now.

    • Spike: God help me Buffy, it's still all about you...

    • Aimee Mann: Man, I hate playing vampire towns.

    • Anya: I used to tell the truth all the time when I was evil.

    • Anya: I'm here for ... sex!

    • Female Vamp: Was that all I was to you? A one bite stand?

    • Anya: If I get vamped, I'm gonna bite your ass!
      Xander: (mumbles) Wouldn't be the first time.
      Anya: What was that?

  • NOTES (4)


    • Aimee Mann's song: Pavlov's bell
      The title of the song refers to the famed experiment by Ivan Pavlov. Pavlov would ring a bell whenever he served his dogs food; eventually, the dogs associated the bell's sound with food and would salivate whenever they heard it, whether food was present or not. An appropriate reference, as Spike's behavior was also triggered by a sound.

    • Title: Sleeper
      The title Sleeper is in reference to the military term sleeper which is a person who performs subterfuge, causing trouble from within the enemies ranks. The sleeper is usually one who is trusted (or at least has access or authorization). Sometimes sleepers are brainwashed or programmed and are thus unaware of their mission; with the saboteur personality lying dormant until triggered, often verbally.

    • The Bouncer: Yeah I know the guy, Billy Idol wannabe
      Billy Idol is a 80s British punk artist who wears leather and has bleached blond hair. The bouncer was saying that Spike was copying Billy Idol's image, but in fact Buffy says that Billy Idol got his look from Spike (the flash back of Spike fighting the slayer in the NY tube train looks very like Billy Idol).

    • Spike: Early one morning...
      The tune that Spike sings as his trigger is an old folk song called "Early one Morning". The lyrics are fairly relevant to Spike's situation (apart from the fact that they are written from a female point of view).

    • Xander: Cool as Cool Whip.
      Cool Whip is ready to use whipped topping which has many uses. Cool whip is a non-dairy substance made from tropical oils, sugar and stabilizers. It can be substituted for an equal amount of whipped cream.

    • Xander: Okay, let's look at this objectively. Figure it out in a cold, impersonal, CSI-like manner 'cause we're a couple of carpet fibers away from a case.
      CSI or Crime Scene Investigation is a popular drama that began airing on CBS in October of 2000. The show mainly revolves around the examination of forensic evidence, with investigators often using incredibly small bits of evidence (such as carpet fibers) to solve crimes.

    • Buffy: The Oscar goes to...
      "Oscar" is the nickname of the statue given as the award for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.