Earshot (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)

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Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode
Buffy 3x18.jpg
Jonathan in the school clock tower .
Episode no. Season 3
Episode 18
Directed by Regis Kimble
Written by Jane Espenson
Production code 3ABB18
Original air date September 21, 1999
Guest appearance(s)
Episode chronology
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"Earshot" is the eighteenth episode of the third season of the television show Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The Columbine High School massacre occurred one week before this episode was originally scheduled to air. Because this episode involved a scene with a student loading a rifle – apparently for mass murder, but in reality for suicide – the WB preempted it with a rerun of another episode. The third season's finale was postponed for similar reasons.

Plot synopsis[edit]

On patrol, Buffy runs into two demons that she fights, and succeeds in killing one of them. While the other escapes, the blood from the demon she killed gets absorbed into the back of her hand after she kills it. The next day at the library, Buffy finds that they're making very little progress with the Mayor and stopping the ascension. Willow asks Buffy if she's talked to Angel and then suggests that Buffy straight out ask him what happened with Faith. Percy checks in with Willow to reschedule their study session and then she talks to Buffy about the basketball game after school which everyone except Buffy is going to.

Buffy goes to Giles after she finds that her hand is itching where she was cut and that, because she came in contact with the blood of one of the demons, she may be infected with an aspect of the demon. Xander and Oz watch the cheerleaders at the pep rally and Xander reveals that he still has a thing for Cordelia when he witnesses Wesley looking at her. Buffy is constantly worried as she waits to find out what aspect of the demon she'll be getting; Willow horrifies her, wondering if the demon was a male. She talks to Angel about it that night and he tells her he'd love her no matter what she looked like.

The next day, as she's walking through the halls, Buffy finds out that she can hear the thoughts of others. She talks to Giles about it, and he goes right to work researching it while Buffy decides to put her new ability to work. In class, she listens to the thoughts of her teacher and classmates and answers the questions asked. Buffy also hears the thoughts of Freddy Iverson, who writes editorials for the school newspaper and who has a seriously negative opinion about everything at Sunnydale.

Later that day, Buffy goes to the mansion to use her mind-reading abilities to check up on Angel and find out the truth about what happened with Faith. He figures out what she's trying to do, and informs her that his thoughts no more reflect into her mind than his image does on a mirror. He reveals to her that what happened with Faith meant nothing and that in 243 years, he's loved only Buffy.

At the library, Buffy tells her friends about her ability to read minds. Xander constantly thinks about sex, Cordelia says almost exactly what she thinks, Oz thinks extremely deep thoughts, Willow thinks about how she's left out of things, and Wesley thinks about Cordelia.

In the lunchroom, Buffy hears someone think, "This time tomorrow, I'll kill you all," and then the voices get to be too much and Buffy passes out. When she regains consciousness, she tells everyone to get organized and find out who the potential killer is. Buffy goes home to rest but before she leaves, she overhears Giles's thoughts that she'll go insane if the telepathy continues. He and Wesley found that it happened before, but the person is in total isolation because they can't stop the power. Buffy's mom is nervous around her and doesn't want to stay in the same room with Buffy for very long. Finally, Buffy reads her mind and finds out that she had sex with Giles, on the hood of a police car. Twice. Willow and the others go around interviewing students and faculty that were in the Cafeteria to see if they're potential killers.

Giles and Wesley have found a possible solution to curing Buffy, but it requires the heart of the second demon. Angel hunts down the demon and the next morning brings the heart to the Summers' home in a glass mixed with other ingredients. He forces Buffy to drink it and then her body goes into convulsions. Willow and the rest of the Scooby Gang were able to locate all the students on the list except Freddy Iverson and they all go looking for him.

Back at home, Buffy wakes up and is no longer able to hear thoughts. The gang finally corners Freddy in his office and find out that he's not the potential killer. Buffy shows up just as they find a letter from Jonathan apologizing for his upcoming actions of death on Freddy's desk. The gang splits up to find Jonathan while he is up in the clock tower, assembling a rifle. Buffy spots him from below and puts her Slayer strengths to work as she flies up the stairs, onto the roof, and into the tower. Buffy talks to him and tells him that the reason why everyone ignores him is that they all have their own problems that actually matter more to them than his do. She takes the rifle from him, and then finds out that he was really going to commit suicide (much to her surprise and confusion).

Xander checks the kitchen and stumbles upon a lunch lady putting rat poison into the food. She comes out and tries to kill Xander with a cleaver, but Buffy stops her. The lunch lady likened the students to "vermin" always eating and never stopping. Buffy decides that the lunch lady has lost her mind and knocks her unconscious. Giles and Buffy recap what happened as they walk around the school grounds. Giles asks her if she's up for some training, and Buffy says she is, and they can work out after school, if he isn't too busy having sex with [her] mother. This causes Giles to walk straight into a tree.


In her commentary on the DVD, writer Jane Espenson reveals that when she found out that she was going to write this episode she knew that she wanted the student in the tower to be Jonathan. Even though Danny Strong had only had small, comedic parts on the series over the years, she had faith that he would be able to handle the dramatic scene.[1] Espenson also mentions in her DVD commentary that she included the exchange in which Buffy discovers that her mother slept with Giles in "Band Candy" because she was surprised that fans weren't sure that they had had sex and she wanted to eliminate any doubts.[1]

Giles walking right into a tree after Buffy told him she knew he slept with her mother was Anthony Head's idea - although he had never thought that Joss Whedon would actually let him do it.[2]


The Columbine High School massacre occurred one week before this episode was originally scheduled to air. Because this episode involved a scene with a student loading a rifle – apparently for mass murder, but in reality for suicide – the WB preempted it with a rerun of "Bad Girls". The episode was delayed until September 1999, where it aired two weeks prior to the season four premiere. The season finale was also preempted due to "school violence concerns."[3][4]


Arc significance[edit]

  • Buffy learns that Giles and her mother have had sex — on top of a police car, twice — while under the influence of mystical chocolate bars in an earlier episode, "Band Candy".
  • Angel reveals to Buffy that vampires are immune to telepathy.
  • This is one of the first episodes to feature Jonathan outside a small comedy based role. He would later become a villain during Season Six.
  • Willow speaks to Jonathan about fantasies about power and respect, and that sometimes "the fantasy isn't enough". This foreshadows the episode "Superstar", in which Jonathan uses a spell to make himself a celebrity. It also recalls an earlier interrogation in the second season episode "Go Fish".


  1. ^ a b Writer Jane Espenson's audio commentary for the episode on the season 3 DVD.
  2. ^ TV.com Episode Guide, Season 3 Episode 18, "Earshot" Trivia & Quotes.
  3. ^ "School Daze". Entertainment Weekly. May 25, 1999. Retrieved August 3, 2010. 
  4. ^ ""Buffy" Slayed by School Massacre". E! Online. April 23, 1999. Retrieved June 9, 2011. 

External links[edit]