|'Listening to Fear'
Story Code '5ABB08'
by Rebecca Rand Kirshner
Buffy and Dawn are crowded around their mother’s hospital bed when a doctor arrives to tell them that Joyce’s surgery will be in two days; Buffy tells Joyce that Riley and the others are out patrolling for her, enabling her to spend time with her mother. At that moment, Giles, Willow and Xander are busy fighting two female vampires; Willow stakes the pair of monsters, saving both Giles’ and Xander’s lives in the process. As they leave, they wonder where Riley is. Elsewhere, in a dirty flophouse, Riley lays on a mattress as a female vampire greedily sucks blood from his arm. Willow arrives at the hospital bearing gifts for everyone, and while she and Buffy talk about schoolwork, Joyce scares them by speaking completely out of character; they leave her to rest, and Buffy explains to Dawn that her behaviour is due to the tumour. As they leave, a mental patient points at Dawn and babbles that there is no picture or data on her, that there is no-one in there; as the man is lead away, Ben asks Buffy what he said, remarking that there are so many mental patients at the moment that they are forced to send them home. That night, Tara and Willow are lying on their rooftop looking at stars when they see a meteorite crash to earth. At the landing site in the woods, the mental patient from earlier is wandering about when a short, dark creature suddenly leaps onto his back. After the attack, the creature then makes its way inside the hospital, crawling unseen along the ceiling; encased in an insect-like shell, its body has short arms but no legs, red eyes peering out from above a mouth filled with razor-sharp teeth. In her room, Joyce and Buffy ask the doctor if Joyce can go home for one night before her operation; he reluctantly agrees, but instructs Buffy to keep a close eye on her mother. Giles, Xander, Anya, Willow, Tara and Riley arrive at the meteor crash site, where Willow finds the dead mental patient, recognising him from before. They are unable to figure out how he died until Riley pulls some thick goo from the body’s mouth, which overcomes everyone with a sickening smell. The gang head off to conduct research while Riley, left alone with the body, calls Graham Miller, formerly of the Initiative. In the mental ward, the nurse leaves the room, unaware of the creature on the ceiling, which jumps onto one of the restrained patients and spits slime over the man’s face. Joyce, Buffy and Dawn return home, but Joyce reacts badly to the bright lights. A black helicopter lands at the crash site, despatching Graham, his superior, Major Ellis, and two other men; Riley informs them that the creature is not from Earth, but can be tracked through its extraterrestrial radiation trail. At the Summers house, a disorientated Joyce tries to cook breakfast, although it is late evening; Buffy gently leads her back to bed and gives her a sleeping tablet. Suddenly, Joyce looks at Dawn oddly, telling her she is nothing but a shadow, a thing that does not belong here; as a distraught Dawn runs away, Joyce becomes a concerned mother again while Buffy goes to comfort her sister, who is now beginning to wonder about the other times that people have told her she does not exist. Willow, Tara, Giles, Xander and Anya are investigating meteorites at the astronomy section of the University when Xander discovers a myth about the Queller demon: people would pray for the creature to come from the heavens to quell tides of madness. Comparing meteorite activity with the outbreaks of mental illness gives them a match, and the gang conclude that Glory is responsible for bringing the Queller to Earth. Willow calls Riley to tell him what they have discovered; Riley is at the hospital, but chooses not to tell Willow about Graham, instead letting her know that all of the mental patients have been killed by the creature; Willow assures him that Buffy and her mother are at home. Meanwhile, Joyce is apparently ranting to herself in bed, but is actually talking to the Queller demon clinging to the ceiling above her. At the hospital, Riley and the others realise that the creature followed a patient from the hospital; Riley suspects that it has followed Joyce. The Queller drops onto Joyce and spits slime onto her face; her cries bring Dawn to investigate, who manages to push the creature off of her mother using a coat stand, and then lead it away into another room. Dawn doubles back and locks the doors to her mother’s room, screaming out to Buffy for help; her sister hears her cries and rushes upstairs to check that Joyce is alright, but the Queller jumps on top of her, pushing her down the stairs. Buffy grabs a knife, but is startled when Spike then emerges from the basement, claiming to be stealing stuff for his crypt but actually clutching photographs of Buffy in his hand. The Queller attacks Spike and in the struggle, the knife is knocked from Buffy’s hand. The creature slams her to the floor, but she manages to grab the knife and stabs it several times until it finally lies dead. As Riley and the army burst into the house, Buffy comforts her mother and sister. Ben leaves the hospital and gets into his car, only to find Dreg waiting for him; the mangy minion asks Ben why he summoned the Queller, and is told that he was cleaning up Glory’s mess. Later, Joyce is being prepared for surgery when she asks Buffy about Dawn; Joyce has realised that she is not her daughter, although still feels like she is, and knows that she is important. Buffy tells her that she will protect Dawn no matter what happens. As all their friends wait in the background, Buffy and Dawn watch as their mother is wheeled away for surgery…
Sarah Michelle Gellar (Buffy Summers), Nicholas Brendon (Xander Harris), Alyson Hannigan (Willow Rosenberg), Marc Blucas (Riley Finn), Emma Caulfield (Anya), Michelle Trachtenberg (Dawn), James Marsters (Spike), Anthony Stewart Head (Rupert Giles), Amber Benson (Tara), Kristine Sutherland (Joyce Summers), Charlie Weber (Ben), Bailey Chase (Graham Miller), Nick Chinlund (Major Ellis), Kevin Weisman (Dreg), Randy Thompson (Doctor Kriegel), Paul Hayes (Older Night Watchman), Keith Allan (Skinny Mental Patient), Erin Leigh Price (Vampire Chick), April Adams (Nurse Lampkin), Barbara C. Adside (Creature), Debbie Lee Carrington (Creature)
Directed by David Solomon
TX (US): 28th November 2000
TX (UK - Sky One): 2nd March 2001
*Featuring Buffy, Xander, Willow, Giles, Riley, Anya, Tara and Dawn