Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)

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"Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered"
Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode
Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered (Buffy the Vampire Slayer).jpg
Xander finds out that all the girls in the school are madly in love with him.
Episode no. Season 2
Episode 16
Directed by James A. Contner
Written by Marti Noxon
Production code 5V16
Original air date February 10, 1998
Guest appearance(s)
Episode chronology
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"Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered" is episode 16 of season two of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. In this episode, Cordelia breaks up with Xander after her friends mock her. Xander retaliates by attempting a love spell to "put her through the same hell", and he gets a little more than he had bargained for.

Plot synopsis[edit]

During a patrol through the cemetery, Xander shows Buffy a silver necklace he intends to give to Cordelia the following night for Valentine's Day, however he is unsure if she will like the gift. The next day at school, Xander witnesses Amy Madison use magic to avoid a homework assignment, however he thinks little of it. Soon after, Giles runs into Jenny Calendar, however their relationship remains frosty, with Giles deciding talking to Buffy remains more important than making amends with Jenny. Giles warns Buffy that Angelus becomes particularly vicious around Valentine's Day, and suggests she stays indoors for the following nights. Meanwhile, Cordelia is insulted by Harmony and the Cordettes, revealing to Cordelia that her relationship with Xander is not as secret as she once thought.

Buffy remains at home watching movies with Joyce, however is unnerved when she receives a bouquet of flowers with a note proclaiming 'Soon', presumedly from Angelus. Meanwhile, the rest of the group are at the Bronze, where Xander finally gives the necklace to Cordelia. Although Cordelia is visibly happy, she breaks up with Xander under pressure from Harmony and her friends. Xander is heart broken, and fuelled by insults from Harmony and various other class mates, he decides to blackmail Amy into helping him cast a love spell upon Cordelia. However, the spell goes wrong, with Cordelia becoming the only female not to be affected by the spell (protected by her necklace).

The following day, Xander is shocked to find Cordelia repels his advances, and sadly retreats to the library. Xander consoles in Buffy, who suggests that the pair go out that night and comfort each other. As Buffy is about to kiss a confused Xander, Amy interrupts them and tells Xander she believes the spell went wrong, however she quickly begins to act similar to Buffy, so Xander rushes home. Arriving home, Xander finds Willow in his bed. She offers him her virginity and he flees.

The following day, all of the girls of Sunnydale High are under the love spell, with girls following Xander around the corridors and Harmony criticising a shocked Cordelia for breaking up with Xander. Xander seeks help in Giles, whom is appalled by Xander's foolishness, warning him that victims under love spells can become obsessed and even murderous. Jenny enters the library, intending to make amends with Giles, but she instead becomes infatuated with Xander. Giles drags Jenny to go looking for Amy, so that she can reverse the spell, while Xander barricades himself in the library. However, Buffy gets in and attempts to seduce a reluctant Xander. Amy also arrives, and becomes extremely jealous of Buffy, ultimately casting a spell that changes Buffy into a rat. Giles, Jenny and Oz arrive back at the library. An angry Giles orders Xander to go home, while he attempts to make Amy reverse the spell. Oz looks for the Buffy-rat to ensure that she isn't hurt.

As Xander is leaving the school, he finds the spell is becoming stronger, with the females now obsessed with him. He saves Cordelia from an attack by Harmony and a group of girls, however as they attempt to leave they run into an axe-wielding Willow who is intent on killing Xander for hurting her. Xander and Cordelia seek shelter in Buffy's home, locking Joyce out when she too falls under the spell. While in Buffy's room, Xander is pulled out of the window by Angelus, who intends to kill him as a 'present' for Buffy. However, Drusilla saves Xander, who instead offers him immortality. The mob of girls quickly arrive and Xander rushes into the house, and with Cordelia, barricades himself in the basement. While hiding in the basement, Cordelia is touched to learn that Xander performed the spell for her. The mob manages to break into the basement and begin to attack Xander and Cordelia, however Giles and Amy manage to lift the spell, leaving the girls dazed and confused. Cordelia then attempts to pass off the instance as a scavenger hunt. While Oz searches for the Buffy-rat, he finds Buffy has been changed back into human form.

The following day, the girls all retain their memory of the events, and while most appear to be dismissive (or choose to repress the memories), Willow's emotional history with Xander has left her furious, and she refuses to talk to him. Harmony cruelly insults Xander after he bumps into her, leading to Cordelia finally facing up to her friends and professing her desire to date Xander. Cordelia then leaves her friends arm-in-arm with Xander.


The much-used phrase "Big Bad" is introduced, when Buffy refers to Angelus as the "big bad thing in the dark." The term "Big Bad" has since been used to describe the principal villain of each season of Buffy and Angel.

Arc significance[edit]

  • In this episode, Amy has begun practicing magic like her mother did. Among the spells Amy casts is the one which turns Buffy into a rat; Amy would repeat this spell (on herself) in "Gingerbread".
  • This episode demonstrates the extreme consequences that can be evoked by using magic for personal gain or satisfaction. This is a theme that will be explored in more depth later in the series.
  • This episode marked the first of Xander's three break-ups throughout the series, each of which would be followed by a botched attempt at vengeance: in this episode, Xander's awry love spell; in "The Wish", Cordelia's ill-fated plea to vengeance demon Anyanka; and in "Entropy", Anya's unsuccessful attempts to enact her own vengeance.
  • Giles tells Xander that people under a love spell can be deadly. This is shown in this episode when Willow and some of the women would rather kill Xander and Cordielia than being spurned. Also, in season seven episode "Him", when Buffy almost uses the rocket launcher used in season 2 episode "Innocence" to kill Principal Wood.
  • Xander dreamily reminisces about the events of this episode in the seventh season's "Him", which was also about a love spell — apparently having forgotten (or repressed) that the experience almost got him killed. That episode features a brief flashback of him and Cordelia being attacked in the basement.
  • When Spike suggests that Angelus rip Buffy's lungs out as a Valentine's Day "gift", Angelus replies that such an act lacks poetry. Spike immediately responds that it doesn't have to and whimsically asks what rhymes with "lungs". This may be an early reference to Spike's human background; in the Season Five episode "Fool for Love", it is revealed that William (Spike's human name) was a poet in 1880 London. His work was generally considered by his peers in the town to be worthy of nothing but ridicule, with one man commenting that he would rather have a railroad spike driven through his head than listen to another line of that "bloody awful poetry". Of particular note in "Fool for Love" is William's poem, recited at a society gathering, in which he has fudged a rhyme for the word effulgent (like lungs, not a word easy to rhyme with in romantic poetry).

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