Gingerbread (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)

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Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode
Gingerbread (Buffy the Vampire Slayer).jpg
Episode no. Season 3
Episode 11
Directed by James Whitmore, Jr.
Teleplay by Jane Espenson
Story by Jane Espenson
Thania St. John
Production code 3ABB11
Original air date January 12, 1999
Guest actors
Episode chronology
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List of Buffy the Vampire Slayer episodes

"Gingerbread" is episode 11 of season 3 of the television show Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Plot synopsis[edit]

While on the nightly patrol, Buffy not only encounters a vampire, but her mother looking for some quality time and a chance to "share" in the slaying experience. As Buffy kills the vampire, Joyce discovers the bodies of two dead children in the park.

At school the next day, Buffy tells Giles that the crime should not go unpunished. She draws a symbol which was found on the hands of the two children. He says that demons do not use symbols, and that it's no doubt occult-related, and Buffy is outraged because Slayers are forbidden to kill humans, even if they are evil witches.

At lunch, Willow and Amy sit with Xander and Oz—who exchange a few awkward words. Buffy joins them and fills them in on the murders. Joyce shows up at school and announces that she has spread the word about the murders to all her friends, and that there will be a vigil at City Hall that night.

Many concerned parents attend the vigil, including Willow's mother. Mayor Wilkins says a few words before handing the mic over to Mrs. Summers. She gives a speech about how the people of Sunnydale must take back their city from the monsters, and witches, and Slayers.

Later, Michael, Amy, and Willow—three witches—are shown performing a spell in a circle that surrounds the symbol Buffy found on the children's hands. The next day, Michael is shoved up against his locker by another student who threatens both him and Amy. Buffy makes a brief appearance and the "big, tough" guys go running. Cordelia, having witnessed the whole incident, comments to Buffy about involving oneself with losers.

Buffy goes to Willow, who has a book Giles needs for researching the symbol. Buffy finds the book, and also finds the witch symbol in one of Willow's notebooks. Willow explains that the symbol is part of a protection spell for Buffy's upcoming birthday.

Meanwhile, all the school lockers are searched for witch-related material, and Giles's occult books are seized by police. Amy and Willow are taken to Principal Snyder's office for questioning.

Willow goes home where her mother calmly tells her she's grounded. Willow flips out, unable to control her anger towards the fact that her mother does not believe that she's a witch.

At Buffy's home, Joyce – founder of Mothers Opposed to the Occult ("MOO") – forbids Buffy to see Willow anymore, takes credit for the locker searches and states that Buffy's Slaying does Sunnydale no good. This leads to Buffy angrily going out on patrol. The ghosts of two children appear to Joyce and tell that she has to hurt the "bad girls".

At the park, Buffy talks with Angel, who convinces her not to give up fighting. When he makes a passing remark about the children and their parents, Buffy is struck by the thought that the children's parents were never mentioned. She returns to the library to find Giles, Xander and Oz, where she realizes that none of them know anything at all about the two child victims. The only fact anyone knows about them is that they were found dead - yet MOO's publicity uses pictures of them alive. Buffy and the others quickly realise that there is absolutely no information regarding the children's names, their families, or where they lived. After using the Internet to contact Willow, the Scooby Gang learn that every fifty years throughout history, the murdered bodies of two nameless children have been found. The earliest record dating from Germany during 1649, where a cleric from the Black Forest discovered the corpses of "Hans and Greta Strauss", inspiring the fairy tale of Hansel and Gretel. Giles explains that certain demons thrive on watching humans destroy each other through persecution and ignorance. This demon assumes the form of the murdered boy and girl, and returns every fifty years to persuade a town to kill the "bad girls" – innocents accused as witches, and thus peaceful communities are torn apart through vigilante madness. According to Giles, this is what set off the Salem Witch Trials.

Amy, Willow, and Buffy are taken by force to City Hall where they are tied to wooden posts, atop a pile of books. Xander and Oz get to Willow's room to discover her gone and her room in a shambles. Cordelia finds Giles unconscious at the Summers' home, wakes him and they rush to City Hall. Just as Buffy wakes up, her mother lights books on fire, sentencing the three girls to death by burning at the stake. Amy escapes by transforming herself into a rat (as she had once done to Buffy).

On the way to City Hall, Giles practices an incantation while Cordelia prepares a concoction to force the demon to show its real self. Oz and Xander climb through the air vents in the hope of saving their friends. Giles and Cordelia break into the room while the parents watch the growing fire, and Cordelia uses a fire hose to put the fire out. As the demon—now in its true, ugly form—goes for Buffy, she breaks the stake she was tied to and impales the creature with it. Everyone is safe, and the demon is dead. Moments after, the vents give way, and Xander and Oz fall to the ground. Taking in the wreckage, Oz lamely says "We're here to save you."

The next day, none of the parents remember much of the recent events. Buffy and Willow are performing a spell in Willow's room to restore Amy, but it fails and Buffy suggests, "Maybe we should get her one of those wheel thingies."


  • This is the first and only time that Willow's mother, Sheila Rosenberg, is shown and it is revealed that she is a negligent, self-absorbed woman who pays no attention to her only daughter.
  • Angel and Buffy philosophically discuss why they fight, reactively defeating evil threats that never stop coming. This theme is prominent in the spin-off series Angel.
  • Amy Madison turns herself into a rat to escape the stake; she will be restored again by Willow in a brief moment in the episode "Something Blue," before being turned into a rat again, and then fully restored two years later in the Season Six episode "Smashed."
  • Cordelia helps Buffy and Willow avoid being burned at the stake, marking the beginning of her re-alliance with the Scooby Gang which will continue, albeit tempestuously, for the remainder of the season.
  • Joyce and Giles are still very embarrassed when together since their teenage "behaviour" in "Band Candy", as their awkward discussion shows while the group is at the "MOO" conference.
  • The fact that Giles knows how to pick a door's lock is another hint about his tempestuous youth, as Cordelia noticed: "God, you really were the little youthful offender, weren't you? You must just look back on that and cringe.".
  • When Cordelia finds Giles at Buffy's house and awakens him, she says, "I swear, one of these times, you're going to wake up in a coma," a sentiment which foreshadows her later experience during Season Five of Angel, in "You're Welcome."
  • Cordelia asked Giles rhetorically, "How many times have you been knocked out, anyway?" Giles has been rendered unconscious on an almost regular basis.
  • Buffy's mother notes in her speech, "Silence is this town's disease," foreshadowing the Season 4 Episode "Hush"

Body Count[edit]

  • Vampire - Stabbed by Buffy with a stake
  • Demon - Stabbed through the head by Buffy with the stake she is tied to

External links[edit]