Buffy returns to Sunnydale after a summer holiday with her father, but she is obviously still shaken from her death experience, and is acting oddly. Then Absalom and the Annointed One try to revive the Master from his bones, and she has to start fighting for the lives of all her friends.
Absalom: Brent Jennings
Buffy and Angel discover a recently killed cheerleader's empty grave: not a new vampire, but a graverobbing. Two boys at school have a Frankensteinian science fair project: to create the perfect companion for a previously-reanimated brother. But to finish it they need Cordelia's head.
Two new vampires arrive in Sunnydale: the rebel Spike, who has already killed two previous Slayers, and the love of his death Drusilla. To add to her problems, Buffy must organise the hospitality for the parent teacher night, or face expulsion by the hostile Principal. On the night, she is desperate to keep her mother away from the Principal, but fails. However, just then Spike and his gang come to the school to kill Buffy. Buffy rescues her mother and the Principal, then goes out to dispose of the vampires. She is mainly successful, but is downed by Spike. Before he can deliver the killing blow, however, Buffy's mother hits him over the head with a fire axe. In the final mop-up, the Principal and the police chief agree to blame kids on PCP "as usual", rather than "tell the truth" -- but how do they know what the truth is ? Spike exposes the Anointed One -- "The Annoying One" -- to sunlight, and takes over the vampires.
Buffy, Holly and Xander visit a museum to see the mummified remains of a sacrificed Incan princess. When a sacred seal is broken and a classmate disappears, Buffy starts to investigate. But meanwhile, several foreign exchange students have arrived in town, and Xander falls for Buffy's guest.
A bunch of frat boys invite Buffy and Cordelia to their Delta Xi Kappa fraternity house for a party. Buffy, tired of patrols and combat practice, lies to Giles and goes to the party. There she gets has a drink, passes out, and recovers to find herself chained to a wall, along with Cordelia, all ready to be a sacrifice for the lizard god.
Buffy is looking forward to a night off on Halloween, when the bad guys aren't out. But Principal Snyder decides she should supervise a bunch of young trick-or-treaters. An old enemy of Giles appears, running a costume shop. On Halloween, all the costumes from that shop become 'real' -- Xander becomes a tough soldier with a real gun, Willow becomes a ghost who can walk through walls, and Buffy becomes a shrinking violet 18th century lady who faints a lot. Which is a problem, since Spike and his gang of vampires are not lying low after all. But Giles, who may be more than he appears, breaks the spell just in time, and Buffy routs Spike.
Buffy sees Angel with Drusilla (Spike's girlfriend) and jumps to conclusions. Then Ford, an old friend from her previous school, turns up, and turns on the charm. And he has figured out she is the Slayer. "Buffy, you aren't by any chance giving away your secret identitiy just to impress cute boys, are you?" Buffy demands that Angel tell her the truth about Drusilla -- he is reluctant, because he did some truly evil things to her before she was a vampire. So she gravitates to Ford. But really, Ford has offered to exchange to give Buffy, and a bunch of vampire-wannabes, to Spike in exchange for immortal life as a vampire. Buffy finds out in time, rescues the wannabes, and stakes the newly vampired Ford.
An event from Giles' past comes back to haunt him. He and a group of similarly-tattooed friends (one of whom is the costume shop owner from Halloween ), in their wild youth, raised a demon. They thought they had laid it again, but now it's back, killing them one by one. During one fight, it possesses the unconscious Jenny Calendar (it can move only to a dead or unconscious person), who then tries to kill Giles. Buffy goes to warn the shop owner that he is in danger, too, but he knocks her out, tattoos her with the demon's mark, and burns it off his own arm. Now the demon tries to kill Buffy. But Willow has brought along Angel -- and the demon into trying to posses the undead vampire. An internal fight ensues, and Angel wins. The demon is destroyed, but Jenny is traumatised enough be the experience to start avoiding Giles.
Spike is trying to find a cure for Drusilla, and steals du Lac's key -- the key to the book the vampires stole a few episodes back. Annoyed that The Slayer is always thwarting him, he sets a group of non-vampire assassins on her. Now Buffy isn't even safe by day. She and Angel, in vampire mode, kill one of them, at the ice rink -- observed by a strange woman. Another, who seems to be composed of maggots, gets into her house while Xander and Cordelia are there searching for her. The woman traps Angel is trapped in a cage as the sun slowly rises, and demands to know where the vampire's lover is. He refuses to say, but she finds Buffy at Angel's "apartment" anyway. As they fight, Buffy demands to know who she is. She says "Kendra the Vampire Slayer" ...
Angel is freed from the cage in the nick of time -- only to be handed over to Spike, who wants to use him to restore Drusilla. Buffy and Kendra join forces to fight Spike. Xander and Cordelia, trapped in Buffy's basement by Maggot Man, kiss -- and then escape. Drusilla tortures Angel with Holy Water. In the final fight, it looks like Spike has been defeated, but a restored Drusilla has rescued him.
Buffy's mother has a boyfriend -- Ted the computer salesman [John Ritter]. He seems perfect, and everyone likes him, except Buffy. And in private, he threatens to hit Buffy. Later, he goes through her things, and threatens to have her committed for her Slayer fantasies. She goads him into hitting her, then hits him back. He falls downstairs, and dies. Buffy is devastated -- she has killed a person. Willow becomes suspicious when Xander eats one of Ted's cookies and has a personality change. She analyses it, and finds it is drugged to make people more compliant. They do a background search on Ted -- he has had four wives before. They search his place -- and find their remains. Meanwhile, Ted has come back from the dead, fights Buffy and is damaged but knocks her out, and tries to abduct her mother. The damage reveals he is actually a robot -- and a recovered Buffy stops him for good, with a cast iron frying pan.
A couple of hick cowboy vampires are in town, bent on destroying Buffy. But she's got bigger problems: her mother has grounded her, and the eggs she and all her school friends have been given to look after -- to learn how to care for something -- have something rather nasty growing inside. Buffy slays what comes out of hers, and Xander cheats by hardboiling his -- but everyone else gets possessed by their critters. The Egg Mother lies pulsating beneath the school -- and Buffy has to fight it, and the cowboys, to save her schoolfriends, and her own mother, from its clutches.
It's Buffy's 17th birthday, and it's proving difficult to lay on a surprise birthday party for her. Angel's happiness with Buffy has come to the notice of the descendants of the Romany who cursed him -- and they order Jenny Calender, one of their number, to stop the relationship. Meanwhile, a recovered Drusilla and a wheelchair-bound Spike are assembling the Judge, a powerful demon, from his scattered body parts. The arm is captured by Buffy when she fights some vampires at what turns out to be her surprise party -- Oz is the most surprised, when he sees her stake a guy who turns to dust. Realising what the arm is, Angel volunteers to take it far away -- this means he will be gone a long time. But the vampires recapture it, and assemble the Judge. Angel and Buffy finally make out, but the experience seems to have a bad effect on Angel...
Angel's moment of sheer happiness with Buffy has lifted his curse -- and he is now a soulless vampire again, much to Spike's delight. Willow sees Xander and Cordelia kissing: "you'd rather be with someone you hate than with me" . Angel sets about hurting Buffy, by taunting her about their relationship, and by trying to kill her friends. He nearly kills Willow, abut Xander saves her. Buffy is devastated -- but in a prophetic dream realises Jenny knows something. She confronts Jenny, who confesses. Buffy, Jenny and Giles go to Jenny's Romany uncle, to see if the curse can be reinstated -- but Angel got there first. Meanwhile, the Judge is ready to start his rampage, at the nearest cinema. Xander steals a bazooka from the local army base, using the knowledge that he gained whilst he was a Halloween soldier. Buffy uses it to shatter the Judge into many pieces, which can again be scattered throughout the world. She confronts Angel, and beats him in a fight, but cannot bring herself to kill him.
There's a werewolf on the loose, which Buffy is determined to capture before the werewolf hunter shoots it for its pelt. But first, they have to work out who it is. Then one of Buffy's classmates, Theresa, turns up dead, and Buffy feels responsible for trying to capture, rather than kill the werewolf. However, what they don't know is that actually Angel killed her. Then -- shock -- we discover that the werewolf is Oz , recently infected by his young nephew. [The "obvious" suspect, the jock who'd been bitten by a dog, is just too obvious, but I must confess, I never guessed it was Oz, despite the passing reference to a bite. Maybe because I don't expect a main character to become one of the bad guys. Not two weeks running.] Oz is devastated to think he might have killed someone, and tries to chain himself up to contain the next change. But Willow interrupts his preparations, and he changes in front of her. Buffy and Xander discover Theresa is a vampire, and realise the werewolf hasn't killed anyone. So Buffy and Giles go hunting it with a trank gun, and Willow uses it to shoot were-Oz just before the hunter turns up. Oz is touched that Willow doesn't seem to mind his little problem. "Okay, werewolf, but that's not all the time. I mean, three days out of the month I'm not much fun to be around, either."
It's Valentine's Day -- and Angel is notorious for being even more evil around this time. So Giles is concerned for Buffy. Cordelia's friends are ignoring her for dating Xander, so she dumps him -- at the Valentine dance. (But she still wears his Valentine gift.) Distraught, he gets Amy the witch's daughter to cast a spell on her, to love him, so that he can dump her . But the spell backfires, and every female except Cordelia ends up in love with Xander -- and her old friends now revile her for having dumped him! Unfortunately, this includes Amy. The love spell gets out of hand, and everyone wants to kill Xander, if they can't have him for their own. Amy and Buffy fight over Xander, and Amy turns Buffy into a rat. Xander and Cordelia end up fleeing to Buffy's house, where even Buffy's mother hits on him. Then Angel appears, and is about to kill Xander as a "present" for Buffy, when Drusilla appears and saves him -- even she is affected by the spell! Eventually, Giles manages to convince Amy to reverse the love spell and rat spell. And Cordelia tells her old friends not to be so shallow, and goes off with Xander again.
Angel is growing ever more cruel to Buffy, spying on her and her friends in their sleep, leaving frightening notes, and Jenny tries to make amends for the removal of the curse that lost him his soul. Meanwhile, Buffy and Giles are trying to reverse the invitation that allows Angel to enter their houses. They find a method, and with the aid of some crucifixes and chanting, set about negating the invitations. Jenny discovers something that might help, but her investigations arouse Angel's suspicions, and before she can do anything more than print out a document to disc, Angel bursts into her schoolroom, chases her, then kills her. He lays her corpse out on Giles' bed. The critical disc slips down between the desk and wall, its existence unsuspected by anyone.
Buffy catches flu, but insists on patrolling. She meets up with Angel, and is beaten by him in a fight. He is just about to kill her when Xander, Willow and Cordelia drive him off with crucifixes. Buffy collapses, and her friends rush her to hospital. That night, delirious with fever, she sees a demon in the children's ward. One child dies, and one of the others says that Death is coming for them. Buffy's friends are initially sceptical, assuming it to be a fever dream, but she convinces them to do some research. Initially they suspect the doctor, but then identify the demon as "Der Kindestod", or "Child Death" -- it's the same creature that killed Buffy's cousin when she was eight. Buffy, now recovered from the fever, can no longer see the demon -- it was the virus that gave her, and the children, the ability. She doses herself up with more virus, and, even in her weakened state, manages to break the demon's neck.
Strange arguments are erupting between pupils and staff in Sunnydale High -- one of which ends in tragedy when a janitor shoots a teacher -- and the gun disappears. A ghost is forcing people to re-enacting a tragic romance where he killed his lover and then shot himself. Giles and the others realise the ghost wants forgiveness, but Buffy is not in a forgiving mood. They attempt an exorcism, but it doesn't work, and the school is filled with wasps. Then Buffy is taken over by the ghost -- as is Angel. In a reversal of roles, Buffy acts out the killer's part, while Angel acts out the victim's. Buffy shoots him, then goes to kill herself. But Angel doesn't die, and so gets to play out the part further, forgiving his killer. This releases the ghost, and sets Buffy and Angel free of the spell. Buffy is devastated by what happened, and Angel is sickened by the feelings of love.
The school's swimming team is doing unexpectedly well, and has a chance at the State championship. But something seems to be killing the best swimmers, leaving only a shell of eviscerated skin behind. Principal Snyder is upset with Buffy for bruising a swimmer who came on to her, and with Willow for failing a swimmer in her computer class. Just after the second swimmer dies, Xander sees a sea monster. The group have no luck researching what this might be. Buffy sees Angel try to kill another swimmer, but spit out his blood. They realise someone has been dosing the swimmers with something, maybe steroids, to improve their performance. Xander joins the team, undercover, to find the source, much to Cordelia's approval. It turns out there is not a killer after all -- the coach is adding some substance to the steam, which is turning the swimmers into monsters. In a final fight Buffy and Xander beat the coach, who falls into the grip of the already converted swimmers, and the other swimmers, Xander included, undergo plasma transfusions to reverse the process in them.
Willow finds the computer disc with Jenny Calender's spell for restoring Angel's soul. Should the team try, or should Buffy kill Angel? They decide to give it a go. Kendra returns, with a blessed sword, warning of a new problem. Angel has stolen the body of a demon that, when revived, will open a vortex to suck the whole planet Earth into Hell. However, he needs one last item to complete the revival. He lures Buffy away from the school, then the other vampires attack -- killing Kendra, crushing Willow under a bookcase, breaking Xander's arm -- and abducting Giles. He knows the missing component from Angel's ritual...
The police try to arrest Buffy as a murder suspect, but she breaks free, and goes on the run -- knowing she has to stop Angel. Willow is in a coma in hospital. Angel is torturing Giles for information about the missing component in the ritual. Then Spike turns up and offers to help Buffy -- "Truth is, I like this world. Billions of people walking around like Happy Meals with legs" , and more importantly he wants his Dru back. Buffy reluctantly agrees, and they plan how to kill Angel and stop the ritual. Buffy's mother sees Buffy 'dust' a vampire -- and is horrified by the revelations of her daughter's secret life. Willow comes out of her coma, and is determined to try the spell to restore Angel's soul. Meanwhile Dru has messed with Giles' mind so that he thinks she is Jenny, and he tells her the missing component is Angel's own blood -- which is the only thing that can open the vortex, and the only thing that can close it again. Spike and Buffy arrive before Angel can complete the ritual, and fight the other vampires. But then Angel gets his blood on the demon. He and Buffy fight, but just as she is about to kill him, Willow completes the spell, and the good Angel returns. Buffy is ecstatic -- but then sees the demon vortex begin to materialise. She knows what she has to do to save the earth.... And now Buffy has lost everything -- she believes her mother has thrown her out, she has been expelled from school again, and she has sent her lover to Hell. She walks away, leaving everyone wondering what has happened to her.