Buffy Logo 'Gingerbread'
Story Code '3ABB11'

by Jane Espenson

Joyce decides to join her daughter out on patrol; while Buffy fights a vampire, Joyce discovers the bodies of two children who have a strange symbol inscribed on their right hands. The next day, Buffy draws the symbol for Giles and asks him to find out who was responsible for the murders, as she believes that they were not killed by vampires. Meanwhile, Oz, Willow and Xander are planning for Buffy’s birthday the following week when she arrives and tells them about the murdered children; the gang are amazed to learn that Buffy’s mom accompanied her on patrol, whereas Buffy is more concerned about the impact that the discovery of the bodies will have on her. At that moment, Joyce turns up at the school to ask Buffy if she or Giles have found anything out about the symbol; she misinterprets Buffy’s answer that a cult may be responsible, instead thinking that witches are to blame. Joyce tells Buffy that she has arranged a vigil for the children, and that the Mayor may also attend because the discovery of the bodies will have a profound effect on life in Sunnydale. Believing the murders to be the work of occultists, the townsfolk soon commence a witch-hunt, from which no one is immune. The next day at school, a friend of Amy’s is bullied for being ‘different’, but luckily Buffy is able to intervene. Giles has now changed his mind, believing that witches may be responsible after all. Buffy finds a book in Willow’s locker with the same symbol on it, but before she can question her friend, Principal Snyder orders a locker search; the police take Amy into custody, prompting Willow to reveal that the symbol was for protection, something she and Amy were working on for Buffy’s birthday. The police confiscate Giles’s books, leaving him and Buffy worried about how to further research the symbol. Meanwhile, Willow is grounded by her mother after she discovers her daughter’s interest in witchcraft. At home, Buffy and her mother argue about Joyce’s conduct and handling of the situation; but as Buffy leaves, the two dead children suddenly appear in the living room, and tell Joyce that they cannot sleep until she hurts ‘them’ in the way that the two children were hurt. Angel comforts Buffy, telling her that he has some information on the children’s parents; Buffy then hurries to the library and informs Giles that no one knows who the parents of the two children are, or even what their names are. Oz and Willow link up on the Internet and discover that the same two children have been repeatedly murdered every fifty years, and that their origins can be traced back to the old ‘Hansel and Gretel’ fairy tale. Buffy, Willow and Amy are kidnapped, and when the Slayer comes to she finds herself and her friends tied to stakes in the middle of City Hall, just as her mother is about to light a bonfire set up at their feet - they are to be burnt as witches. Amy turns herself into a rat and escapes, while Willow tries to stall the mob with tales of her supposed power; Oz and Xander arrive to help, while Buffy pleads with her mother, who insists that she has to punish her. Giles and Cordelia arrive, and Cordelia uses a fire hose to put out the fire, while Giles recites a magical spell; he throws a mixture of ingredients at the children, causing them to turn into a single, giant demon. Just as the demon lunges at her, Buffy manages to break the stake she is tied to, impaling the creature, and ending its influence over the people of Sunnydale.

Sarah Michelle Gellar (Buffy Summers), Nicholas Brendon (Xander Harris), Alyson Hannigan (Willow Rosenberg), Charisma Carpenter (Cordelia Chase), David Boreanaz (Angel), Seth Green (Oz), Anthony Stewart Head (Rupert Giles), Elizabeth Anne Allen (Amy Madison), Armin Shimerman (Principal Snyder), Jordan Baker (Sheila Rosenberg), Kristine Sutherland (Joyce Summers), Harry Groener (Mayor Richard Wilkins III), Lindsay Taylor (Little Girl), Shawn Pyfrom (Little Boy), Blake Swendson (Michael), Grant Garrison (Roy), Roger Morrissey (Demon), Daniel Tamm ("Mooster")
Directed by James Whitmore, Jr.

TX (US): 12th January 1999
TX (UK - Sky One): 15th October 1999
TX (UK - BBC): 21st June 2000

*Featuring Buffy, Xander, Willow, Giles, Oz, Cordelia and Angel