Story Code '5ABB15'
by Joss Whedon
As Buffy stares at Joyce lying motionless on the sofa, her mind casts back to their last Christmas dinner, spent with Dawn and all their friends. Everyone compliments Joyce on her cooking, and Dawn is ecstatic when Anya reveals there really is a Santa Claus. Joyce is worried about her burnt pies, but Buffy assures her they will be fine. Jolted back to the present, Buffy stands over the still form of her mother; she grabs her and shakes her, calling out to her, but Joyce does not respond. Buffy calls an ambulance and tells the operator that her mom is not breathing; the operator instructs Buffy on how to do CPR, but, due to her strength, Buffy cracks one of Joyce’s ribs. After the operator assures her that the ambulance is nearly there Buffy disconnects the call and phones Giles, numbly telling him that he has to come, that ‘she’ is at the house. Hearing sirens Buffy opens the door to find two paramedics who quickly enter the house and lift Joyce onto the floor. They perform CPR on her - and Joyce coughs; Buffy reassures her mother that she is with her, and as the ambulance rushes Joyce to hospital the paramedics declare it to be a miracle. In a hospital room, an overjoyed Buffy and Dawn sit with their mother while a doctor pronounces her to be as good as new. Joyce thanks Buffy for finding her in time - but then Buffy snaps out of her reverie, and back to the real world, as the paramedics continue to work on her mother. One of them tells Buffy that her mother is dead, and must have died a while before Buffy found her; there was nothing Buffy could have done to save her. He surmises that Joyce probably died of an aneurysm and felt no pain, informing Buffy that the coroner’s office will come to collect Joyce and perform and autopsy. The two paramedics leave on another call, instructing Buffy not to disturb the body. In a daze Buffy throws up, and then wanders into the kitchen to get some paper towels to clean up the mess. Giles runs in through the front door; he is concerned that Glory is there, but then sees Joyce. When Buffy yells at him to leave 'the body' alone, Giles gently hugs her. At school, Dawn is upset because a popular girl called her a freak; she and her friend Lisa attend their art class and start work on charcoal drawings. Dawn is chatting to a boy she likes, and fails to see her sister arrive until she walks into the classroom and tells her that they have to talk. Stepping out into the hallway, Dawn demands to know what is going on and refuses to go until Buffy tells her what has happened. Seen from the perspective of her watching classmates Dawn collapses to the floor, sobbing. Later, Xander and Anya arrive at Willow’s, where Tara is trying to help Willow to get dressed, although Willow is too upset to decide what to wear. Xander and Willow hug, and Willow tells them they are to meet the others at the morgue. Xander blames the doctors for Joyce’s death, while Anya is confused because she does not understand the concept of death. In anger, Xander puts his fist through the wall. At the morgue, Doctor Kriegel pulls a sheet over Joyce’s body and the makes his way to the waiting room where Buffy, Dawn, Giles, Xander, Anya and Tara are consoling each other. The doctor takes Buffy, Dawn and Giles to one side and tells them that Joyce had an aneurysm, and was aware this might happen after her surgery; there are forms to sign, so Giles tells Buffy he will take care of it for her and leaves with the doctor. Dawn goes to the bathroom while Xander, Anya and Willow go to get snacks for everyone. Tara tells Buffy that she can talk to her because her own mother died when she was seventeen. Dawn leaves the bathroom, and, seeing Buffy and Tara talking, sneaks through the doors to the morgue and locks herself in; she slowly walks up to the pallet that she thinks her mother is resting on, unaware that a newborn vampire has just sat up behind her. Sensing something, Dawn turns and screams as she sees the creature advancing on her. Xander, Anya and Willow arrive with armfuls of snacks, explaining that they panicked and did not know what to get. Noticing that Dawn has yet to return, Buffy tells her friends to wait while she goes to look for her; heading for the morgue, she sees Dawn and the vampire through the window. Buffy breaks the door open and yanks the monster off Dawn, who falls and accidentally pulls the sheet covering Joyce, exposing her mother’s face. Buffy battles the vampire, decapitating it with a bone-saw. She rolls over to see Dawn staring up at her mother; Dawn asks Buffy if she thinks Joyce is cold. Buffy tells her that the body is not their mother - she has gone. Dawn slowly reaches out to touch her mother’s face...
Sarah Michelle Gellar (Buffy Summers), Nicholas Brendon (Xander Harris), Alyson Hannigan (Willow Rosenberg), Emma Caulfield (Anya), Michelle Trachtenberg (Dawn), James Marsters (Spike), Anthony Stewart Head (Rupert Giles), Amber Benson (Tara), Kristine Sutherland (Joyce Summers), Randy Thompson (Doctor Kriegel), J. Evan Bonifant (Kevin), Rae’ven Larrymore Keyy (Lisa), Kelli Garner (Kirstie), Tia Matza (Teacher), Loanne Bishop (911 Operator), Kevin Cristaldi (Paramedic #1), Stefan Umstead (Paramedic #2), John Michael Herndon (Vampire)
Directed by Joss Whedon
TX (US): 27th February 2001
TX (UK - Sky One): 20th April 2001
*Featuring Buffy, Xander, Willow, Giles, Anya, Tara and Dawn
*This episode features no incidental music, and no opening credits