Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Season 3 Episode 20

The Prom

5
Aired Tuesday 8:00 PM May 11, 1999 on The WB
9.1
out of 10
User Rating
629 votes
29

EPISODE REVIEWS
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Episode Summary

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The biggest night in High School life is just around the corner, when strange creatures start appearing around town attacking anyone in formal wear. Meanwhile, Angel tells Buffy that he wants her to have a chance at the normal life that he could never give her. He plans to leave Sunnydale after the Ascension. Buffy must put aside her own pain and try to track down the source of the demonic Hellhounds in time to save the Senior Prom.

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SUBMIT REVIEW
  • After the conversation with Joyce Summers ,Angel breaks up with Buffy. She feels so sad an she think it will hurt her forever. Angel plans to leave town and Buffy. Also Buffy saves her friends of school. In the prom we can watch the last dance of BA.moreless

    10
    I think this is the most dramatic episode of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer series.If you are a one of the Buffy / Angel\'s love fans , you feel really painful.The conversation between Buffy and Angel hurts you. When Buffy starts to cry , Angel dies again.. You can feel this.
  • The Prom

    9.5
    Very late in the episode Buffy asks Oz how the prom is. His reply, "strangely affecting," is exactly the way I feel about it as well. There are two very distinct ways this could have gone wrong: make it too corny or make it too soapy. Marti Noxon and the writing staff successfully avoided both traps and found the perfect balance, and of course threw in their trademark humor and wit. Things that needed to happen for a while now, like Angel and Buffy breaking it off for good, finally happened. And Buffy got her one perfect high school moment!



    Most of the really big stuff that happens involves Buffy and Angel, but there's also a handful of really appreciated scenes with some of the other characters. First up is the fact that Anya's still stuck as a human and needs a date for the prom. I love the fact that she's starting to become a recurring character because she's so entertaining. I've really got to wonder, though, why she's so willing to even begin a relationship with Xander after he cheated on Cordelia. Doesn't seem like a very smart idea, especially from a former vengeance demon. I guess she's just desparate and no one else can tolerate her highly amusing and strange sales pitch of "men are evil. Will you go with me?"



    Another smaller thing I liked was Xander's kindness and assistence to Cordelia. The fact that he covers for her in the library and then pays off the rest of her dress shows just how much he's matured. He's not the same guy who wanted to cast a spell on her just so he could break up with her back in "Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered" (2x16). With the loss of her money, Cordelia has suddenly become a whole lot more interesting again as well. I'm actually kind of sad that she's heading off to AtS after the season ends.



    Right at the beginning of the episode we know Angel has a problem with his relationship with Buffy. At the end of "Choices" (3x19) we see Buffy and Angel pushing aside the Mayor's comments. Here it seems that Buffy has bought into her words while Angel really hasn't. The moment Buffy mentions 'prom' he gets squirmish and pretty much suggests it's time for her to leave. Also of note is that they slept together the previous night, in the literal sense of course. Still, the way Buffy was touching Angel in the morning was a little worrying. These two are getting a little too close for comfort again and I think Angel realizes it.



    There are a handful of things which lead to Angel finally really breaking up with Buffy. These include the Mayor's words in the previous episode, the fact that Buffy isn't leaving town anymore, their increased physical closeness, the Buffy and Angel Forever notebook cover, and Joyce's words of wisdom. When absorbing all of this he has an interesting dream about marrying Buffy (great for fan videos, by the way) and when they walk outside she is the one disintegrating. I take this as meaning exactly what the Mayor said, that he's keeping her from the light. He's the one who will ruin her life. So with all this in his mind he makes his decision and breaks it off with Buffy in the nicest way possible, and you can easily see that it tears him up as much as it tears her up.



    I'd like to dwell on the sewer break-up scene a bit more, because I thought it was really well acted by both of them. It's pretty tough to hear Buffy, very tenderly, say to Angel "I'm never gonna change. I can't change. I want my life to be with you" and then Angel, knowing now more than ever that he has to do what's right for her, replies with "I don't." Seriously, ouch. Buffy comes back with "You don't want to be with me? I can't believe you're breaking up with me." Normally I'd cringe at a line like this, but after all these two have been through together, I can really feel her pain. This is also why using genre to tell stories about real life works even better than showing real life itself sometimes. Through the fantasy context I've let my "real life" guard down so when something like this happens, I'm actually affected by it. Through metaphor I can actually understand what it's like to go through a relationship without actually having experienced this myself. This series is the only one that has ever made me understand and care. That requires amazing writing and it's pretty obvious now that this series has it in spades.



    As is typical of Buffy herself, she doesn't break down and lose it right away. She's insanely tough physcially, but throughout high school she's become a lot tougher emotionally as well. I was happy to see her call Willow pretty quickly and share what happened. It's when talking about it to someone else when she finally breaks down and lets it all out. When Sarah Michelle Gellar gives it all emotionally, she really gives it all! I felt her pain in "Innocence" (2x14), "Becoming Pt. 2" (2x22), and here due to fantastic (which means realistic) acting. Her pain feels extremely genuine to me. She sobs "I can't breathe, Will. I feel like I can't breathe." I'm so happy Willow was there this time to comfort her.



    Another "scene to remember" is, of course, the awards ceremony where Buffy gets the Class Protector award. Like many reviewers I also feel that Jonathan's speech sums up the first three seasons of BtVS perfectly. Here it is: "We're not good friends. Most of us never found the time to get to know you, but that doesn't mean we haven't noticed you. We don't talk about it much, but it's no secret that Sunnydale High isn't really like other high schools. A lot of weird stuff happens here. But, whenever there was a problem or something creepy happened, you seemed to show up and stop it. Most of the people here have been saved by you, or helped by you at one time or another. We're proud to say that the Class of '99 has the lowest mortality rate of any graduating class in Sunnydale history. (applause from the crowd) And we know at least part of that is because of you. So the senior class, offers its thanks, and gives you, uh, this. It's from all of us, and it has written here, 'Buffy Summers, Class Protector.'" Buffy and the writers earned this moment. I'll say more about "earning happy moments" in my review of the season.



    The only problem I have with the episode on a whole is the hell hound plot. I guess I am so wrapped up in the emotion of what's happening I didn't want to spend any time with some kid training hell hounds. Buffy needed something relatively minor to kill for this episode to have the resonance it needed, though, so this isn't really a big complaint. I really did love this episode and I really didn't expect to this much. Bring on graduation day!moreless
  • Buffy on such a roll

    10
    The Good;

    All lovely, touching beyond belief and yet still plenty of action and funny stuff, works better when you have an emotional investment in the series. The music especially is excellent plus the wedding sequence must have sent many a Bangler's heart aflutter. The class protector award and scene where Joyce has 'The Talk' with Angel are just wonderful.



    The Bad;

    Again, could only be bettered if it had Dawn and Faith in it. In truth the devil dogs do look rather stupid but who cares, this is genius.



    Best line;

    Buffy; "Giles we get it, miles to go before we sleep" (somehow I can't imagine Robert Frost being quoted on Charmed)



    Character death;

    Does the guy at the menswear shop live or die?



    Shot;

    No but Buffy uses her crossbow to good effect.



    Tied up;

    Only Tucker



    Knocked out;

    For once everyone stays conscious



    Women good/men bad;

    Tucker wants to kill everyone at the prom because he couldn't get a date. JERK! Anya meanwhile has after a 1000 years of avenging men's wrongs nothing but contempt for them. But still wants to go to the Prom with one.



    Jeez!;

    Tucker feeds his pets on cow brains, yuck! Probably not as cruel as making them watch all those prom videos.



    Kinky dinky;

    Anya; "I know you find me attractive, I've seen you looking at my breasts"

    Xander; "Nothing personal but when a guy does that it just means his eyes are open"

    Wes thinks Cordy in her prom dress is 'hot'. He's not wrong.



    Calling Captain Subtext;

    Will and Buffy in each other's arms on her bed.



    Guantanamo Bay;

    What exactly do they do with Tucker? Turn him over to the police on charges of Hellhound raising?



    Where's Dawn?

    Nowhere to be seen this week but you figure one day she might have the same talk with Spike or The Immortal that Joyce has with Angel.



    Questions and observations;

    We'll never see Tucker again (although he might always show up in season 8?) but of course he's Andrew the Nerd's brother. Buffy dislikes Kool and the Gang's 'Celebration'? For shame! Even Oz gets all teary at 'We are family'. Everyone looks dynamite in their prom gear and the relationship with Giles and Buffy has such a resonance. Looking at Alexis in his tux you could imagine him being James Bond. Buffy writes 'Buffy and Angel 4ever' in her homework book. Sorry Spuffers, I think that settles it. The scene where Cordy and Xander meet at the prom is so great, you finally know she's forgiven him. According to Jonathon thanks to Buffy this year's class of SDH has the lowest mortality rate ever. I don't know if anyone counted but what must the rest of them have been like? As we see the end of the Buffy/Angel romance we see the beginning of Anya/Xander. Wes very much part of the group now and get's to dance with Cordy. Love to know a little more about Jonathon's date, was she from his therapy group? Poor Giles is the only one left stag for the evening. You wonder what Faith is doing across town, she must know the Prom is occuring?

    Is the guy who wins the class clown award the one referred to in Conversations with Dead People as going insane?



    Marks out of 10, 10/10 Buffy on such a roll.

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  • The Prom

    9.5
    The Prom was another thrilling episode of Buffy The Vampire Slayer's Third Season. I really enjoyed this episode because it had a lot of character building in it. Zander and Cordelia had their moments, as did Angel and Buffy. I really think that this episode was spectacular because of what the senior class did for Buffy. It was really touching and relatable. The Senior Class actually recognized Buffy for the heroic effort she has shown in protecting her classmates. This episode was ver important to the series as a whole, and to the viewrs as individuals who have been through this rite of passage. I think that the episode was perfect in every way. It really added to the whole of Buffy the Vampire Slayer's third season!!!!!moreless
  • Just as she thinks she'll get one perfect HighSchool moment with Angel at the Prom, Buffy's world collapses when they break up. What's a girl to do? Go a-hunting for some hell hounds with a thing for formal wear. There'll be time for ice cream later Gilesmoreless

    9.5
    For all of us who watched Buffy and Angel's tormented romance from beginning to end, this episode remains one of the most heartbreaking. For all they've gone through, lost souls, murdered friends, surviving demon dimensions to be together, it's her Mum of all people/creatures who comes as the final straw. I challenge any Buffy/Angel fan not to choke back a sob when Buffy tells Willow that she can't breathe the pain is so terrible. As always, the perfect bittersweet moment occurs just after Buffy's won the award for Class Protector (never quite understood why it's an umbrella) and despite their heart wrenching break up, Angel turns up at the Prom suited and booted regardless. Best episode for all out wallowing after losing the love of your life. Also touching moment between Xander and Cordelia, and Anya is hilarious from start to finish in this episode.moreless
Andrea Baker

Andrea Baker

Salesgirl

Guest Star

Mike Kimmel

Mike Kimmel

Butcher Guy

Guest Star

Bonita Friedericy

Bonita Friedericy

Mrs Finkle

Guest Star

Kristine Sutherland

Kristine Sutherland

Joyce Summers

Recurring Role

Alexis Denisof

Alexis Denisof

Wesley Wyndam-Pryce

Recurring Role

Emma Caulfield

Emma Caulfield

Anya

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions

FILTER BY TYPE

  • TRIVIA (7)

    • In this episode we learn that caffeine makes Angel jittery

    • Angel's speech in the sewer about having a normal life resembles the hallway speech that Angel (as Grace) gave to Buffy (as James) in "I Only Have Eyes For You".

    • Nitpick: Considering how strong and vicious the Hellhounds seem to be, the cages that Tucker keeps them in seem to be very weak and/or poorly constructed.

    • Nitpick: At the beginning of the episode when Buffy opens Angel's curtains, she states that there must be a few hours before sunrise. Angel could probably have known that it was daylight since in "Amends" he states that he can smell the sunrise. Of course Angel was standing outside at that time, while he was inside at this time, which may account for the discrepancy.

    • Nitpick: When they are watching the videotape Oz asks for it to be paused. Xander goes into a sort of long rambling before he pushes pause. And yet it happens to still be on what Oz wanted to see. Not impossible, just convenient.

    • Nitpick: After Buffy kills the Hellhounds she takes her dress out of her weapons bag and walks away, leaving the bag sitting right outside the school. This seems a little strange.

    • Goof: When Wesley first spots Cordelia at the prom, the napkin in his hand changes color in different shots.

  • QUOTES (18)

    • Giles: (frustrated by all the Prom talk) I will be wearing pink taffeta as the chenille does nothing for my complexion and can we please talk about the Ascension?

    • Giles: Tucker is planning to attack the prom tonight.
      Oz: Once again, the Hellmouth puts the special in special occasion.
      Xander: Why do I even buy tickets for these things, I ask you?
      Willow: Wonder if I can take my dress back?
      Buffy: Don't you dare!
      Willow: But Tucker is going to...
      Buffy: No! You guys are going to have a prom. The kind of prom that everyone should have. I'm going to give you all a nice, fun, normal evening if I have to kill every single person on the face of the Earth to do it.
      Xander: Yay?

    • Angel: I'm sorry. Buffy, you know how much I love you. It kills me to say this.
      Buffy: Then don't. Who are you to tell me what's right for me? You think I haven't thought about this?
      Angel: Have you? Rationally?
      Buffy: No. Of course not. I'm just some swooning little school girl, right?
      Angel: I'm trying to do what's right here. I'm trying to think with my head instead of my heart.
      Buffy: Heart? You have a heart? It isn't even beating.
      Angel: Don't.
      Buffy: Don't what? Don't love you? I'm sorry. You know what? I didn't know that I got a choice in that. I'm never gonna change. I can't change. I want my life to be with you.
      Angel: I don't.
      Buffy: You don't want to be with me? I can't believe you're breaking up with me.
      Angel: It doesn't mean that I don't...
      Buffy: How am I supposed to stay away from you?
      Angel: I'm leaving. After the Ascension. After it's finished with the Mayor and Faith. If we survive, I'll go.
      Buffy: Where?
      Angel: I don't know.

    • Angel: Today. But you have no idea how fast it goes, Buffy. Before you know it, you'll want it all. A normal life.
      Buffy: I'll never have a normal life.
      Angel: Right. You'll always be the Slayer. But that's all the more reason why you should have a real relationship instead of this... this freakshow. I didn't mean that.

    • Angel: I've been thinking, about our future. And the more I do, the more I feel like us-- you and me-- being together is unfair to you.
      Buffy: Is this about what the Mayor said? Because he was just trying to shake us up.
      Angel: He was right.
      Buffy: No. No, he wasn't. He's the bad guy.
      Angel: You deserve more. You deserve something outside of demons and darkness. You should be with someone who can take you into the light. Someone who can make love to you.
      Buffy: I don't care about that.
      Angel: You will. And children.
      Buffy: Children? Can you say jumping the gun? I killed my goldfish.

    • Buffy: I always say that a patrol's not complete without a trip to the stinking sewers.
      Angel: I'm sure I saw him come down here.
      Buffy: Couldn't we just let this be the vamp that got away? We can say he was this big.
      Angel: What can I say, I need closure.

    • Angel: The prom?
      Buffy: End of high school, rite of passage thingy. Think "cotillion" with spiked punch and the electric slide.

    • Buffy: Great thing about being a slayer, kicking ass is comfort food.

    • Anya: (sighs) I don't have a date to the prom.
      Xander: Well gosh. I wonder why not. It couldn't possibly have anything to do with your sales pitch?
      Anya: Men are evil. Will you go with me?
      Xander: One of us is very confused and I honestly don't know which.
      Anya: You know, this happens to be all your fault.
      Xander: My fault?
      Anya: You were unfaithful to Cordelia, so I took on the guise of the twelfth grader to tempt her with a wish, and I lost my powers, and I got stuck in this persona, and now I have all these feelings! And I don't understand it, I don't like it! All I know is I really wanna go to this dance, and I want someone to go with me.
      Xander: Be still, my heart. Or wait it is. How come I got the short straw?
      Anya: You're not quite as obnoxious as most of the alpha-males around here. Plus I know you don't have a date.
      Xander: I haven't settled on anyone yet.
      Anya: Fine. Look, I know you find me attractive. I've seen you looking at my breasts.
      Xander: Nothing personal, but when a guy does that it just means his eyes are open.

    • Joyce: Because when it comes to you, Angel, she's just like any other young girl in love. You're all she can see of tomorrow. But I think we both know that there are some hard choices ahead. If she can't make them, you're going to have to. I know you care about her. I just hope you care enough.

    • Oz: Everything cool?
      Buffy: Coolest. Devil dogs are history. How's the prom?
      Oz: Strangely affecting. I got all teared up when they played "We Are Family".

    • Wesley: I must say, this is all rather odd to me.
      Giles: Oh, yes. Being at an all-male preparatory, we didn't go in for this sort of thing.
      Wesley: No, of course not. Unless you count the nights you made the lowerclassmen get up as girls, and watched them-- Dip is tasty, isn't it?

    • Anya: (about her vengeance job) She wished her husband's head would explode, which was great, except we were standing three feet from him at the time. What a mess. Of course, you know, during the plague, it was always parts falling off, but... that got pretty old since really they pretty much were anyway.

    • Buffy: That's it. Assuming we survive this Ascension thing, he's gonna leave town.
      Willow: Well, he's a fool. He's just a big dumb, jerk person if you ask me. And he's a super maxi jerk for doing it right before the prom.
      Buffy: It's not his fault. He's 243 years old. He doesn't exactly get the prom.
      Willow: But he should, if...
      Buffy: Will, it's okay. You don't have to make him the bad guy.
      Willow: But that's the best friends job, vilifying and grousing.
      Buffy: Usually yeah. But he's right. I mean, I think, maybe in the long run, that he's right.
      Willow: Yeah. I think he is. I mean, I tried to hope for the best but... I'm sorry. It must be horrible.
      Buffy: I think horrible is still coming. Right now it's worse. Right now, I'm just trying to keep from dying.
      Willow: Oh Buffy.
      Buffy: I can't breathe, Will. I feel like I can't breathe.

    • Oz: Anya, huh? Interesting choice.
      Xander: Choice is kind of a broad term for my situation. See, it's either Anya, or the sock puppet of love for this boy.
      Willow: Well, if Anya tries to get you killed, put me down for a big "I told you so."
      Xander: (as sock puppet) Who is this Anya? Is she prettier than me?

    • Jonathan: (presenting the class awards at the prom) We're not good friends. Most of us never found the time to get to know you. But that doesn't mean we haven't noticed you. We don't talk about it much, but it's no secret that Sunnydale High isn't really like other high schools. A lot of weird stuff happens here.
      Student: Zombies!
      Second student: Hyena people!
      Third student: Snyder!
      Jonathan: But whenever there was a problem or something creepy happened, you seemed to show up and stop it. Most of the people here have been saved by you or helped by you at one time or another. We're proud to say that the Class of '99 has the lowest mortality rate of any graduating class in Sunnydale history. And we know at least part of that is because of you. So the senior class offers its thanks and gives you this. It's from all of us. And it has written here – Buffy Summers... Class Protector.

    • Giles: You did good work tonight Buffy.
      Buffy: And I got a little toy surprise.
      Giles: I had no idea that children en masse could be gracious.
      Buffy: Every now and then, people surprise you.
      Giles: Every now and then.
      (Angel enters)
      Buffy: I never thought you'd come.
      Angel: It's a big night. I didn't want to miss it. It's just tonight. It doesn't mean that I...
      Buffy: I know. I mean, I understand.
      Angel: Dance with me?
      (They dance)

    • Welsey: Mr. Giles. I'd like your opinion. While the last thing I want to do is model bad behavior in front of impressionable youth, I wonder if asking Miss Chase to dance would...
      Giles: For God's sake, man, she's eighteen. And you have the emotional maturity of a blueberry scone. Just have at it, would you, and stop fluttering about.
      Wesley: Right, then. Thanks for that.

  • NOTES (9)

    • The Wells family is introduced in this episode, albeit solely in the form of Tucker Wells, but in Season 6, we meet they younger brother Andrew played by Tom Lenk who would have a major recurring presence in the series final seasons. Tucker is even referenced by Andrew in the early episodes of the sixth season.

    • A snippet of Buffy's dialogue from this episode ("Can you say jumping the gun? I kill my goldfish!") is dubbed into a dream sequence in the Angel episode "Soul Purpose". Sarah Michelle Gellar was unavailable for the scene.

    • Music:

      First song playing at the Prom -- "Praise You" by Fat Boy Slim
      Buffy arrives at the Prom -- "The Good Life" by Cracker
      Giles and Wesley talk about Cordelia -- "El Rey" by The Lassie Foundation
      Buffy & Angel's dance -- "Wild Horses" by The Sundays

    • In a 2003 interview with Entertainment Weekly, after announcing her decision to leave the show, Sarah Michelle Gellar named this episode as one of her favorites. The reason she gives for loving this episode so much is "it stood for everything Buffy was about: the fact that she so badly wanted to be part of the other kids' lives."

    • Buffy mentions that Angel is 243, which can be taken as proof that it was an error in "Becoming, Part One" (2x21) when it was shown that Angel became a vampire in 1753. In fact, he was not born until 1755 or 1756 [as evidenced in this episode, "Earshot" (3x18), "Some Assembly Required" (2x02), and "Reptile Boy" (2x05)]. Angel's age is contradicted in several episodes, though the 1753 time-frame seems to hold true throughout those episodes that mention specific years. Perhaps Angel is just as vain about his age as any human and likes to shave a few years off? Probably very few people, even amongst the "Scoobies" would have known if he had. Angel should also be hundreds of subjective years older by now. In "Beauty and the Beasts" (3x04) we are told that he was in Acathla's hell dimension for hundreds of years.

    • Buffy's wedding dress (from the dream sequence) was designed by Vera Wang; and her prom dress by Pamela Dennis.

    • The movies that Tucker used to train the Hell Hounds were: Prom Night, Pump Up the Volume (which Seth Green and Juliet Landau were in), Prom Night IV, Pretty in Pink, The Club, and Carrie. They were from a video store called Big Lou's.

    • This episode effectively re-introduces Anya (Emma Caulfield).

    • The VCR used to train the Hellhounds is identical to the one used by Mr. Trick in "Homecoming" to announce Slayerfest '98.

  • ALLUSIONS (6)

    • Buffy: I mean, where did I think you get your blood, McPlasma's?
      Buffy makes reference to the fast food chain McDonalds.

    • Buffy: Gotta stop a crazy from pulling a Carrie at the prom.
      Carrie is an early Stephen King novel (later a movie starring Sissy Spacek and John Travolta) about a misfit girl who uses her supernatural power to exact revenge on her schoolmates.

    • Xander: Gotcha. Or check and see who's been stocking up on hellhound snausages.
      Snausages are a brand of dog treats designed to look like small sausages.

    • Xander: He left behind his copy of Monster's Wear Daily.
      Xander is referring to the magazine Men's Wear Daily, a periodical about high-end men's fashion.

    • Buffy: Giles, we get it. Miles to go before we sleep.
      From the poem "Stopping by the woods on a snowy evening" by Robert Frost. The poem is about a man pausing to appreciate nature but ends with the repeated phrase "Miles to go before I sleep".

    • Cordelia: Well, that's too bad because I bet you would look way 007 in a tux.
      "007" is the Agent ID number for the fictional British spy James Bond. In many of the films about Bond he is portrayed wearing a tuxedo.

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