Sleeper (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)

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Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode
Episode no.Season 7
Episode 8
Directed byAlan J. Levi
Written byDavid Fury
Jane Espenson
Production code7ABB08
Original air dateNovember 19, 2002
Guest appearance(s)
Episode chronology
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"Conversations with Dead People"
Next →
"Never Leave Me"
Buffy the Vampire Slayer (season 7)
List of Buffy the Vampire Slayer episodes

"Sleeper" is the eighth episode of the seventh and final season of the television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Plot synopsis[edit]

In the opening, Spike is seen digging a grave and buries the woman he has just killed while he hums a tune. Meanwhile Buffy struggles with the possibility that Spike may have begun killing innocent people and "siring" them as vampires. The Scooby Gang tries to make sense of the strange apparitions of the dead they have been contacted by and wonder whether any or all of the information they gave them was true.

Meanwhile, in London, a man and woman are attacked by cloaked men and Giles receives some troubling information.

At the Bronze, after staking a vampire who claims he made her, Spike calls Buffy's cell phone from a pay phone and tells her that he is remembering the bad things he has done recently and asks for her help. She agrees to meet with him at a set location. As Spike tries to leave, the duplicate of Spike shows up and tells the real Spike that calling Buffy was not part of the plan, but they'll have to improvise.

Spike leads Buffy into a dark basement and tries to show her what he remembers about killing the girls. The fake Spike is there as well, but Buffy can't see him. While the real Spike tries to show Buffy where he buried the bodies, the fake Spike starts to sing the hypnotizing tune. This causes Spike to vamp out and attack Buffy, cutting her arm with a piece of broken glass. As the two battle the bodies of those Spike recently killed rise from the ground beneath them as newly turned vampires. Buffy struggles with the fledglings while the real Spike gets a pep talk from his morphing version about tasting Buffy's blood. As two vampires hold Buffy still, Spike leans down and tastes Buffy's blood from the cut on her arm. It reawakens all of his memories of killing and he falls to the ground, horrified.

Buffy finishes off dusting the rest of the vampires and turns her attention to Spike. Tearfully Spike offers to be staked. He is confused, scared and hurting because of the lives he has taken. Buffy realizes something isn't right with Spike and something has been messing with his head. Buffy takes Spike back to her house and tells the gang about Spike and how she needs to keep Spike close if she intends to get answers they need.

Giles charges into the room in London and finds the dead girl and the nearly dead man that was with her. The man, Robson, warns Giles that something has started and that they need to be gathered. As Giles says he understands, one of the robed figures appears behind him and swings an axe at his head as the episode ends.


  • Aimee Mann appears as herself and the lead singer of the band playing at the Bronze when Spike walks in. She performs two of her songs, then is seen walking down a flight of stairs with her band as Spike is walking to a pay phone, and complaining about playing in vampire towns.

Production details[edit]


  • Aimee Mann - "This is How it Goes" - The first of two songs to be performed by Mann at the Bronze as Spike is asking various people if they have seen a girl.
  • Aimee Mann - "Pavlov's Bell" - The second song performed by Mann at the Bronze when Spike meets a vampire that claims to be sired by him, and a fight breaks out between the two until Spike stakes her with a piece of bamboo.

Quotes and trivia[edit]

  • The title of the episode refers to a sleeper agent, or spies that blend into their surroundings and don't do any missions until their superiors call on them, returning to their innocuous "sleeping" state after the mission is completed. This is explained in the following episode by Xander.
  • The song that The First uses to trigger Spike's killing sprees is the English folk song "Early One Morning".
  • The title of the song "Pavlov's Bell" performed by Aimee Mann refers to the classical conditioning experiments performed by early 20th Century physiologist Ivan Pavlov. Spike's conditioning is a complex, fictitious form of conditioning which Xander says is "left over from every army movie I've ever seen". The Manchurian Candidate (1962) could be seen as an example.
  • Willow refers to The First as the "Big Bad" - a term coined in the series and used since in other programs to describe the main antagonist of a season.
  • Aimee Mann is the only musical guest on Buffy to have any speaking lines.
  • This is the final episode of the series not to guest star Tom Lenk.

Cultural references[edit]

  • Xander references CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.
  • The scene where Buffy searches for Spike in the crowded square is similar to the scene in Alfred Hitchcock's Vertigo. James Stewart's character follows Kim Novak's character who also appears to be in a trance (under the spell of a dead woman Carlotta Valdez.) The music of the scene is dramatic and very similar to that used for the scene in Vertigo. The First appears to Spike as Buffy while in Vertigo, Kim Novak is impersonating the wife of Jimmy Stewart's friend who hired him to follow her. In Buffy, Spike is directed to kill others while in Vertigo, the intent is to convince Stewart that the wife is being directed to kill herself.


This episode begins immediately after the end of the previous episode.

  • In one scene, the bouncer refers to Spike as "a Billy Idol wannabe," and Buffy starts to say that Billy Idol actually stole the look from him (implying Spike had told her this in conversation at some point). In Season Five's "Fool for Love," Spike's resemblance to Billy Idol was depicted (though not acknowledged in dialogue) during his flashback fight with the Slayer Nikki Wood in 1977, at which time Spike's attire and hair mimicked Idol almost perfectly, several years before Idol's fame.

Arc significance[edit]

  • Buffy realizes that something is controlling Spike and takes him to her house. It would not be revealed as The First until the next episode.

External links[edit]