Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Season 1 Episode 3


Aired Tuesday 8:00 PM Mar 17, 1997 on The WB
out of 10
User Rating
955 votes

By TV.com Users

Episode Summary


It's time for cheerleader tryouts, and Buffy can't resist! However, when the girls start getting knocked out of the competition by spontaneous combustion, sudden blindness, and other freak accidents, Buffy and the gang begin to suspect that someone may be behind these not so normal occurrences. Could someone be using dark magicks in order to make the squad?


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  • intro to Witches hits buffy

    The shows starts introduce the first non-vampire supernatural creature. That's not worse but the witch start attacking people on the cheerleading team first, one girl, then Cordelia and finally Buffy. Not only do the witch hurt people on the cheerleading team, she switches bodies with her own daughter. If your into witches then this episode is for you
  • ooo, hey, juice! -- ooo, hey, witch!

    first episode without any vampire in it. I guess it's the first epi I have memory about since 1998. and it's really good. I mean, till certain moment I had no clue that Amy was actually Catherine -- her mother... full of funny moments again: "Macho Man" song, Xander and Willow saving Buffy... and full of cheerleading that I admire! it's easy watching and completely unforgettable. plus, shows us why people can still afford a house in Sunnydale: first vampires -- now witches :) actually, that is something that doesn't depend on living near the Hellmouth -- it's just about the human nature, at least I think so.

    FAVE SCENE: Buffy's morning "Macho Man" song.

    FAVE QUOTE: Xander: I laugh in the face of danger. Then I hide until it goes away.moreless
  • The third Buffy lurches a little as the show shifts from master-plot mode to monster-of-the-week mode.

    Still, "Witch" is an entertaining hour with a semi-clever twistone that I saw coming before it was officially revealed, but was still surprising to me when I first realized what was going onand an exploration of mother-daughter relations that helps flesh out who Buffy is.

    The main point of comparison is between Buffy's mom Joyce, a busy gallery owner who cares about her daughter but can't dedicate the time to keep up with all of Buffy's school activities and personal dramas, and Catherine Madison, the meddling ex-cheerleader mother of another Sunnydale student, Amy. When the main rivals for Amy's position on the cheerleading squad suffer bizarre ailmentsfire-hand, no-mouth, perpetual intoxicationBuffy and the gang suspect witchery on Amy's part. It turns out they're half-right. It's actually Catherine who's the culprit, becauseand here's the twistshe's taken over Amy's body!

    As I said, the twist is semi-clever, and capped by a cool ending that has Catherine trapped inside of one of her old cheerleading trophies. And while there's nothing especially revelatory about the message that mothers who try to re-live their youths through their daughters are no damn good, I liked the way "Witch" gives more definition to Joyce Summers, by subtly asking whether too little involvement is as bad as too much.

    The introduction of Amy gives Xander and Willow a little less to do in this episode, though Willow puts her web-surfing skills to good use, and Xander declares his crush on Buffy by giving her a bracelet. This pays off later in the episode when a wacked-out Buffy, suffering from a spell cast by Catherine/Amy, reveals that she likes Xander as a friend, and that she appreciates the bracelet because it comes from a friend, and not a suitor. Ouch for Xander.

    The only problem with the "like you as a friend" scene is that it gets to an emotional place that the rest of "Witch" doesn't even come close to approaching, though there was ample opportunity to do so via Buffy's sudden whim to join the cheerleading squad. Buffy's still pining for normalcy, and when Giles warns her not to "enslave yourself to this cult," I got psyched for a cogent critique of conformity, and how the popular crowd can be a bad model for Instead, Buffy got spell-hammered and injured some teammates. End of cheerleading storyline. Oh well.moreless
  • Bad Parenting

    This is actually one of my favorite episodes of season one, just because of the ridiculous scenario of having a mother take over her daughter's body so she can cheerlead. It stays well in tune with the series' humor and allows for the supernatural entities to move beyond vampires, setting that standard viewers can come to expect for the rest of the show. It's not always about vampires, and sometimes the non-vamps are the more interesting.moreless
  • The Witch

    With the introduction of the show out of the way, "The Witch" is left with the job of giving the viewer a taste of what it will look like on a regular basis. If I was watching this for the first time now I'd be left moderately entertained but not very critically impressed. What we have here is what I'd describe as an 'amiable' yet also fairly forgettable 'monster of the week' episode. It has a single neat twist that utilizes the "high school is hell" theme to tell a decent little story, but sadly also has minimal lasting relevance to both the season and the characters.

    "She said I was wasting my youth. So she took it," says an Amy stuck in her mom's body, a chilling statement no doubt; a statement that strikes at the core of what this episode is about. The supernatural is used as a springboard to say something about the human condition, in this case being parents who selfishly live through their children. One of the things that separate S1 from what the show eventually becomes is its focus on plot and ideas in abstract rather than character; rather than telling its story through characters we care about and have them learn alongside the viewers, the show is simply making its statement and then forgetting about it in the next episode. This is sadly true of most S1, and is ultimately one of the problems plaguing "The Witch."

    "The Witch" certainly earns some points for how it plays with its premise, but Amy happens to be one of the only recurring characters to get very little solid character development and psychological depth throughout the series, so what begins here doesn't end up being terribly relevant to her future beyond a basic level.

    With Amy's involvement being largely insignificant in the grand scheme of things, all that's left to remember the episode by is in its miniscule effect on the main characters. I do give it credit for at least taking a baby step towards a character-based approach. "Amy" tells Buffy that she trains hours with her mother for cheerleading, which causes Buffy to try to wedge open a connection with her own mother. I actually found Buffy's attempt sweet and Joyce's complete black-out of her daughter's desire for connection a little sad despite the eventual apology. Once Buffy finds out what Amy's mom did to her, though, she's not so quick to want her mom all gun-ho in her activities. Per usual, I think balance always wins the day. It'd be great for your parents to show some support in the things you love (provided they're not dangerous activities), but not so much that they put their own successes or failures from their own youth on your shoulders.

    Early in the episode Buffy tells Giles she wants to do something "safe," in regard to cheerleading. A good metaphorical lesson learned from "The Witch" is that sometimes "normal" isn't necessarily safe at all, and that the Hellmouth will make sure Buffy's life is always normal turned upside down.

    The only other relevant bits in "The Witch" include Xander's continued pining for Buffy despite her obvious lack of physical interest in him and his continued obliviousness to the fact that Willow totally digs him, which clearly makes him completely blind. How could you not find Willow here absolutely adorable and totally dateable? I mean, really.

    "The Witch" is a fairly enjoyable episode even though it's definitely plagued by S1's terrible production values, awful score, and psychological shallowness in relation to the characters. There's nothing specifically wrong with the episode's core; it just has so little lasting importance to the series from both a plot and a character perspective. It does have its moments, though, and sports a decent little self-contained plot. At the end of the day it's not very memorable but it does have just enough stuff to be a decent first stand-alone entry for the series.moreless
Robin Riker

Robin Riker


Guest Star

Jim Doughan

Jim Doughan

Mr. Pole

Guest Star

Nicole Prescott

Nicole Prescott


Guest Star

Kristine Sutherland

Kristine Sutherland

Joyce Summers

Recurring Role

Elizabeth Anne Allen

Elizabeth Anne Allen

Amy Madison

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (7)

    • Goof: When Cordelia gets out of the car she shuts the door, but in the next shot the door of the car is open just before it is hit by the truck.

    • In this episode we learn that Giles drives a gray Citroen.

    • Giles claims that his attempt to negate the witch's magick is his "first casting." This is later proved to be either a continuity error or a lie on Giles' part.

    • Nitpick: Amy tells Buffy that her mom makes her practice 3 hours in the morning and 3 hours in the evening, but later on in the episode, Buffy says that she just doesn't have time to practice 3 hours a day. 3+3 does not equal 3.

    • Nitpick: It seems odd that the truck driver didn't even try to stop when blind Cordelia was wandering into the road. He had plenty of time and space to swerve out of the way.

    • Goof: During the second cheerleading tryouts Cordelia is seen putting on a pink headband. It's gone while she's cheering, but when Amy falls on her, the pink headband is back in place.

    • Goof: When Willow fills the test tube with yellow liquid, it is filled halfway. But in the next shot, as she hands the test tube to Buffy, it is only filled a quarter of the way.

  • QUOTES (28)

    • (Amber's arms ignite)
      Willow: She's on fire!
      Cordelia (not looking): Enough with the hyperbole!

    • Cordelia: Hey, I'm really sorry you guys got bumped back to alternate. Hold it, wait. No, I'm not.
      Amy: Well, I know that I'll miss the intellectual thrill of spelling out words with my arms.

    • Xander: (to Willow) I gotta be a man and ask her out. Y'know, I gotta stop giving her ID bracelets, subtle innuendos, taking Polaroids outside of her bedroom window late at night. That last part is a joke to relieve the tension because here she comes.

    • Xander: (about Buffy) Was she wearing it? The bracelet, she was wearing it, right? Pretty much like we're going out.
      Willow: Except without the hugging or kissing or her knowing about it.

    • Buffy: (singing) Macho, macho, man! I want to be a macho man. Macho... (stops singing as she walks into the kitchen) Oh, hey, juice! Mm... Quality juice. Not from
      Joyce: You're in a good mood.
      Buffy: I am! I'm on the squad, which is great, 'cause I feel like cheering and leading others to cheer. Ooo, hey, juice!
      Joyce: Listen, honey, about yesterday, I really...
      Buffy: That is totally yester. Besides, it's not like you were wrong, y'know. I did get kicked outta school. I'm just wacky that way!
      Joyce: Still, I just want you to know that, despite the problems you've had, I really...
      Buffy: Mom, you just don't get it. And, believe me, you don't want it. Y'know, there are just some things about being a Vampire Slayer that the older generation...
      Joyce: A what?
      Buffy: It's a... long story.
      Joyce: Buffy, are you feeling well?
      Buffy: What? Oh, I'm fine, y'know? What, like, I can't be in a good mood? Is it, like, a new house rule? Fine, y'know? It's just fine, fine, fine, 'cause... (sings) I'm a macho, macho man! I want to be a macho man!

    • Willow: "Witches: Historic Roots to Modern Practice", checked out by Alexander Harris.
      Buffy: "The Pagan Rites", checked out by Alexander...
      Xander: Alright, alright, it's not what you think.
      Willow: You like to look at the semi-nude engravings?
      Xander: Oh, well, I guess it is what you think.

    • Amy: I train with my mom, three hours in the morning, three at night.
      Buffy: Hmm, that much quality time with my mom would probably lead to some quality matricide.

    • Buffy: I love you, Mom. (She jumps up and kisses her mom on the cheek, then runs from the room)
      Joyce: I don't get it!

    • Buffy: You're my Xander-shaped friend. Do you have any idea why I love you so, Xander?
      Willow: (to Xander) We gotta get her to a…
      Xander: (to Willow) Let her speak.
      Buffy: (to Xander) I'll tell you. You're not like other boys at all.
      Xander: Well.
      Buffy: You are totally and completely one of the girls. (to Willow) I'm that comfy with him.

    • Buffy: (referring to Amy) The test was positive. She's our Sabrina.

    • Xander: First vampires, now witches. No wonder you can still afford a house in Sunnydale.

    • Xander: (referring to Cordelia) Okay, see how she has no clue that I'm even a mammal, much less a human being?
      Willow: I see that.
      Xander: This is the Invisible Man Syndrome, blessing in Cordelia's case, a curse in Buffy's.
      Willow: You're not invisible to Buffy.
      Xander: It's worse. I'm just a part of the scenery, like an old shoe or a rug that you walk on every day but don't even really see.
      Willow: Like a pen that's all chewed up, and you know you should throw it away, but you don't, not 'cause you like it so much more 'cause you're used to it…
      Xander: Well, yeah, that is the point. You don't have to drive it through my head like a railroad spike.

    • Xander: That's why you're so cool. You're like a guy. You're my guy friend that knows about girl stuff.
      Willow: Oh, great. I'm a guy.

    • Buffy: So Mommie Dearest is really ... Mommie Dearest.

    • Cordelia: Just look at that Amber. Who does she think she is, a Laker Girl?
      Willow: I heard she turned them down.

    • Giles: This is madness. What could you have been thinking? You are the Slayer. Lives depend upon you. I make allowances for your youth, but I expect a certain amount of responsibility, instead of which you enslave yourself to this-this... cult.
      (we see Buffy is wearing a cheerleading outfit)
      Buffy: You don't like the color?

    • Giles: Why should someone want to harm Cordelia?
      Willow: Maybe because they met her! Did I say that...?

    • Buffy: Mom, I've accepted that you've had sex. I am not ready to know that you had Farrah hair.
      Joyce: This is Gidget hair. Don't they teach you anything in history?

    • Joyce: (about cheerleading) I'm glad you're taking that up again. It'll keep you out of trouble.
      Buffy: I'm not in trouble.
      Joyce: No, not yet.

    • Giles: But that's the thrill of living on the Hellmouth! There's a veritable cornucopia of, of fiends and devils and, and ghouls to engage. Pardon me for finding the glass half full.

    • Buffy: I'm inscrutable, huh?
      Joyce: You're sixteen.

    • Willow: Yeah! You're the Slayer, and we're, like, the Slayerettes.

    • Xander: For I am Xander, King of Cretins. May all lesser cretins bow before me.

    • Giles: You have a sacred birthright, Buffy. You were chosen to destroy vampires, not to... wave pompoms at people. And as the Watcher I forbid it.
      Buffy: And you'll be stopping me how?
      Giles: Well, I... By appealing to your common sense, if such a creature exists.

    • Amy: I'm thinking about getting fat.
      Buffy: I hear that look's in for spring.

    • Catherine: How dare you raise your hand to your mother! I gave you birth. I gave up my life so you could drag that worthless carcass around and call it living. You've never been anything but trouble. I'm going to put you where you can't make trouble again!

    • Catherine: She said I was wasting my youth. So she took it.

    • Xander: I laugh in the face of danger. Then I hide until it goes away.

  • NOTES (8)

  • ALLUSIONS (12)

    • Xander: This is the Invisible Man syndrome. A blessing in Cordelia's case. A curse in Buffy's.

      The Invisible Man is a novel by H. G. Wells featuring a main character who becomes invisible due to a scientific experiment. Several films have been made based on the novel, as well as more than one television series.

    • Xander: She's like the Human Torch.

      The Human Torch is a superhero from Marvel Comics. The original was an android who fought against Hitler in World War II, the second (and more commonly known) is a member of the superhero team the Fantastic Four.

    • Cordelia: These grapes are sour.

      From the Aesop's fable where the fox, unable to reach the grapes, determines that they are probably sour anyway. The idea being that when something is unobtainable we declare it to be undesirable. Of course the real Amy probably never was much interested in becoming a cheerleader.

    • Buffy: She's our Sabrina!

      Sabrina, the Teenage Witch first appeared in Archie comics in the 1960's. A TV series about the character began in 1996 starring Melissa Joan Hart and was soon followed by an animated series. The reference to Sabrina may also have been an inside joke, since Robin Riker (Amy's mother, Catherine) had previously made a guest appearance on the TV show.

    • Joyce: Great parenting form. A little shaky on the dismount.

      Joyce speaks of her parenting skills in the language of gymnastics. The dismount from an apparatus is usually an especially tricky move.

    • Joyce: This is Gidget hair.
      Gidget was a 1959 surf movie starring Sandra Dee as the title character. Also, Gidget was a 1965-66 television show starring Sally Field.

    • Buffy: I'm not ready to know you had Farrah hair.

      Farrah Fawcett was a famous actress and sex symbol of the 70's. Her hairstyle was much imitated.

    • Buffy: So mommy dearest is really ... Mommie Dearest.
      A reference to Christina Crawford's autobiography, made into the 1981 movie Mommie Dearest about her abusive relationship with her adoptive mother, Joan Crawford.

    • Amy: Her nickname was Catherine the Great.

      Catherine the Great (the original one) was Empress of Russia from 1762-1796. She is known for making Russia a major European power but also for strengthening the class system and the power of the nobility.

    • Giles: Well pardon me for finding the glass half full.

      A famous test for pessimism vs optimism is whether one calls a half glass of water "half empty" (the pessimist) or "half full" (the optimist). Giles sarcastically apologizes for delighting in the variety of supernatural activity in the vicinity of the Hellmouth.

    • Amy: Oh how I hate this, let me count the ways.

      A play on the opening line of the poem from Elizabeth Barret Browning's Sonnets from the Portuguese: "How do I love thee? Let me count the ways."

    • Cordelia: Who does she think she is? A Laker Girl?

      The Laker Girls are the cheerleaders for the NBA's L.A. Lakers.