Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Season 3, Episode 18
3x18 Earshot.jpg
Air date September 21, 1999
Written by Jane Espenson
Directed by Regis Kemble
Episode Guide
Sarah Michelle Gellar Buffy
Nicholas Brendon Xander
Alyson Hannigan Willow
Charisma Carpenter Cordelia
David Boreanaz Angel
Seth Green Oz
Anthony Stewart Head Giles
Guest Starring
Kristine Sutherland Joyce
Alexis Denisof Wesley
Ethan Erickson Percy
Danny Strong Jonathan
Co Starring
Larry Bagby III Larry
Keram Malicki-Sanchez Freddy
Justin Doran Hogan
Lauren Roman Nancy
Wendy Worthington Lunch Lady
Robert Arce Mr. Beach
Molly Bryant Ms. Murray
Rich Muller Student
Jay Michael Ferguson Another Student

"Earshot" is the eighteenth episode of the third season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and is the fifty-second episode in the series. Written by Jane Espenson and directed by Regis Kemble, it was originally broadcast on September 21, 1999 by The WB .

After accidentally receiving the power of reading minds, Buffy discovers that her newfound "gift" can actually be more of a curse.

Synopsis[edit | edit source]

While on patrol, Buffy fights two mysterious, mouthless demons. One manages to escape, but Buffy slays the other. However, unknown to her, some of the demon's blood is absorbed into her hand. The next day at the library, the Scooby Gang gather for another group meeting, where they find that Giles is making little to no progress with the Mayor and has no clue what the Ascension is. Wesley soon arrives, promising new updates, but his information is exactly the same as Giles'.

Meanwhile, Willow and Buffy talk about Angel's recent impersonation of Angelus to get close to Faith. Buffy is worried that he and Faith may have gotten more intimate than she saw. Willow suggests that Buffy talk to Angel and straighten things out. Percy arrives, telling Willow that they'll have to reschedule their planned study session. Willow then talks to Buffy about the basketball game held after school later that day. Apparently, everyone except for Buffy is going.

Buffy is bothered by persistent itching on her hand, and decides to talk to Giles. After a little research, he tells her that the demon's blood might have infected her with an "aspect of the demon." Later that day, Xander, Willow, Oz, and an absent-minded Buffy watch a pep rally, where Willow catches Buffy feeling her head for horns. Willow further horrifies her by wondering if the demon is male. That night, Buffy meets Angel during her usual patrol and tells him about the demon. Angel tells her that he'll still love her no matter what she looks like, though his exact wording only freaks her out even more.

The next day at school, Buffy finds the rest of them ecstatic about the game from the day before. When Cordelia passes by, Buffy hears Xander wondering if she and Wesley had ever kissed before. She responds to him, aloud, and he remarks that "[Buffy] read [his] mind." Buffy then walks through the school halls, where she finally realizes she's hearing people's thoughts. Freaked out, she talks to Giles about her new ability, and he realizes the mouth-less demons are telepathic. Buffy seems overjoyed about it, and Giles says that this power may be very useful in combat.

Buffy talks to Jonathan.

Buffy can't resist to use it to her advantage in class first, though. During a class on literature, she answers the teacher's questions with no difficulty, impressing the rest of the students and especially the teacher. Buffy then hears the thoughts of Freddy Iverson, who writes editorials for the school newspaper, and has a seriously negative opinion about everything and everybody at Sunnydale High School.

Later that evening, Buffy visits Angel at the mansion and attempts to use her mind-reading abilities on him to discover what really happened with Faith. Angel realizes what she is trying to do and tells her she won't be able to read his thoughts. He reassures her that what happened with Faith meant nothing and that in 243 years, he's only ever loved Buffy.

The gang meets up at the library again the next morning, where Buffy tells her friends about her new power. She finds Xander constantly thinking about sex, and Wesley keeps thinking about Cordelia. Oz thinks extremely deep thoughts, while Willow is upset because Buffy has access to Oz's mind and will learn more about him than she ever will. While in the school cafeteria, Buffy's telepathy starts to become painful, as the voices become too much for her to endure. Out of nowhere, a single, menacing voice stands out among the pandemonium: "This time tomorrow, I'll kill you all." Buffy passes out, overwhelmed by the cacophony of others' thoughts.

When she regains consciousness, Buffy tells the Scoobies to interrogate everyone in the cafeteria in order to figure out who the killer is. Giles tries to find a cure for Buffy, but before she leaves to rest at home, she hears the painful truth: she'll go insane if the telepathy continues. At home, while trying to comfort Buffy, Joyce inadvertently lets slip through her thoughts that she and Giles had sex on the hood of a police car under the influence of the band candy. Twice.

Meanwhile, the rest of the gang starts interrogating members of the faculty and the students. They make little progress with their research and every likely suspects are crossed out, except for Freddy, who Oz can't seem to find. In the meantime, Giles and Wesley had come across a potential cure for Buffy's telepathic abilities, though it requires the heart of the second remaining demon. Angel hunts down the demon at the cemetery, and successfully acquires the heart.

He brings the ingredients needed for the spell to Buffy's house the next morning and forces her to drink it, telling her that it's okay and he's there to help here. Buffy's body soon undergoes convulsions and Angel calls for Giles. Then she loses consciousness. Moments later, she wakes up again, good as new, and heads to the school to straighten the mess out.

Meanwhile, the Scoobies finally corner Freddy in his office, where they realize that he isn't the killer. Rather, he's been avoiding Oz out of fear of retaliation for a negative review he had written about Dingoes Ate My Baby. Oz isn't mad at all; he remains calm, saying, "No, that's fair."

Buffy shows up just as Cordelia finds a letter on Freddy's desk from Jonathan Levinson, an ignored and disregarded student, announcing a dire plan. The gang then splits up to look for Jonathan.

Meanwhile, Jonathan loads a firearm, ready to pull the trigger, up in the high school clock tower. Buffy locates him and quickly jumps into the tower to confront him. Jonathan remains hostile at first, claiming that he is tired of everybody disregarding him for his small size and his lack of abilities. Buffy civilly talks to him, telling him that the reason everybody ignores him is that they have their own problems to deal with. Musing on how deafening silence can truly be, the two study the people milling below. Buffy gently prompts Jonathan to hand the rifle over to her, which he does with quiet, subdued grace. Buffy disposes of the weapon, but is then surprised to learn he hadn't planned to murder anyone: he had actually gone to the tower to kill himself.

Elsewhere, Xander is still looking for Jonathan in the cafeteria, and while picking at some Jell-O, looks up and sees the overweight lunch lady putting rat poison into the students' food. They stare at each other for a few seconds before Xander runs out and warns everybody to stop eating their lunch. The lunch lady pursues him and tries to attack Xander with a cleaver. Buffy shows up in time and knocks the weapon out of her hands. The lunch lady calls the students "vermin," always eating and never stopping. Buffy decides that the lunch lady has lost her mind and knocks her unconscious.

The next day, Giles and Buffy discuss the recent adventure. Buffy is relieved not having any voices in her head; Jonathan has some repercussions to deal with, but Buffy seems confident of his recovery, even dreading he might ask her to the prom. Going over business as usual Giles asks her if she's up for some training, and Buffy agrees. Innocently, Buffy remarks, "We can work out after school, if you're not too busy having sex with my mother," which causes Giles to walk straight into a tree.

Continuity[edit | edit source]

  • When Buffy learns she would gain an aspect of the demon, she checks for horns and a tail. This is exactly what Cordelia would check for when she wakes up after being made part demon in "Birthday".
  • This episode marks the second time Willow interrogates Jonathan, the first in "Go Fish". While interrogating him, she asks if he has ever had a fantasy about being powerful or respected. Later on Jonathan will cast a spell to make this fantasy come true in "Superstar".
  • The name of the Sunnydale High School newspaper is revealed as The Sunnydale High Sentinel.
  • It is revealed that vampires are immune to telepathy — their thoughts cannot be read. However, future episodes show that vampires can be read by empaths and can receive projected thoughts from telepaths ("The Gift", "Bargaining, Part One").
  • Buffy discovers Joyce and Giles had sex in episode "Band Candy".
  • This episode includes the only scene where we ever see Wesley and Joyce meet.
  • This is the last time Angel is seen in Buffy's house.
  • In "Flooded", Jonathan resists killing Buffy because she has saved his life "a bunch of times", such as exemplified in this episode.
  • Xander's offhanded commentary on the lunch lady wanting to kill the students proves to be true, as he'll unexpectedly be right once again about Brooks letterman jacket in the episode "Him".
  • Oz mentions skipping to the obituaries of the school newspaper. This starts an acknowledgement of the happenings in Sunnydale that culminates in Buffy being given the Class Protector Award durring "The Prom".

Appearances[edit | edit source]

Individuals[edit | edit source]

Organizations and titles[edit | edit source]

Species[edit | edit source]

Locations[edit | edit source]

Weapons and objects[edit | edit source]

Rituals and spells[edit | edit source]

Death count[edit | edit source]

  • Unidentified demon, killed by Buffy.
  • Unidentified demon, killed by Angel.

Behind the scenes[edit | edit source]

Production[edit | edit source]

  • Joss Whedon wrote two scenes in this episode; the discussion in the literature class, and the confront in the clock tower between Buffy and Jonathan.[citation needed]
  • The character Hogan Martin was named after a gymnast with whom Jane Espenson went to school.[citation needed]
  • According to Jane Espenson, Joss Whedon hates having demons with tails on the show, as the tails almost never look realistic. That was parodied in this episode, with Buffy checking if she has one.[citation needed]
  • Buffy's class discuss Shakespeare's Othello in English class. Previous drafts of the script had them discussing Henry VIII or The Catcher in the Rye, but Joss Whedon rewrote the scene to make it tie in with Buffy's feelings.[citation needed]
  • Jane Espenson says that the fact Joyce and Giles had sex under the influence of the chocolate bars in "Band Candy" was confirmed in this episode because she was shocked fans still weren't sure about it.[citation needed]
  • In her DVD Commentaries for the episode, 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.
  • The Sunnydale High School clock tower was constructed especially for this episode.[citation needed] It will be seen only one more time in "Graduation Day, Part Two".
  • The final scene, in which Giles walks into a tree, was not in the shooting script. It was a last minute addition by Anthony Stewart Head, intending to provide the scene with more comic relief.[citation needed]
  • Freddy Iverson was originally named Freddy Munson.

Broadcast[edit | edit source]

  • This episode's subject matter, in conjunction with the mass shooting at Columbine High School (which occurred a week before the intended airdate for this episode), led The WB to postpone this episode's broadcast. The episode finally aired September 21, 1999, two months after the Season Three finale (which was also delayed, as the final scene includes the destruction of Sunnydale High). Due to the long delay, "Earshot" was aired in other countries before it was shown in the United States. Sarah Michelle Gellar lobbied hard for this episode (which she considers one of her favorite Buffy episodes) to be released on schedule. She thought it was great and would help those affected by the Columbine tragedy.[citation needed] The Buffy novel "The Evil That Men Do" was also delayed due to Columbine, published one year later than originally planned.

Deleted scenes[edit | edit source]

  • A line of Buffy cut for length:
Buffy: "Say 'Uncle'. Oops. No mouth."

Pop culture references[edit | edit source]

  • Buffy discuss the tragedy Othello (1603) in literature class.

International titles[edit | edit source]

  • Armenian: "Ձայներ" (Voices)
  • Czech: "Na Doslech" (On Earshot)
  • Finnish: "Kuulolla" (Hearing)
  • French: "Voix Intérieures" (Inner Voices)
  • German: "Fremde Gedanken" (Foreign Thoughts)
  • Hungarian: "Hallótávolság" (Earshot)
  • Polish: "Tajemnice Zdrowej Skóry" (Secrets of Healthy Skin)
  • Portuguese (Brazil): "O Alcance da Voz" (The Reach of the Voice)
  • Romanian: "Aproape" (Near)
  • Russian: "Голоса" (Voice)
  • Spanish (Latin America): "Alcance Auditivo" (Auditory Reach)
  • Spanish (Spain): "El Alcance del Oído" (The Reach of the Ear)

Goofs[edit | edit source]

  • Near the episode climax, the first time Buffy looks at the clock tower and sees Jonathan, the clock reads 12:40. Seconds later when she has another look, the clock is showing 12:10.

Music[edit | edit source]

Other[edit | edit source]

  • The episode was included in The Slayer Chronicles VHS collection.
  • Jane Espenson provided the DVD commentaries for this episode.
  • In Cockney rhyming slang, a word is replaced by a rhyming word, usually part of a two-word phrase. For example "apples" is used to refer to stairs, as in "apples and pears". "Berk" comes from the rhyming pair "Berkeley Hunt". So, when Giles called Wesley a "berk", he was actually calling him something a lot more offensive. However, the etymology of the term is now completely lost on anyone using the term in Britain and is entirely inoffensive. It really just means "twit".

Quotes[edit | edit source]

Willow: "The school paper is edging on depressing, lately. Have you guys noticed that?"
Oz: "I don't know. I always go straight to the obits."
Angel: "Buffy, careful with this gift. Lot of things that seem strong and good and powerful, they can be painful."
Buffy: "Like, say, immortality?"
Angel: "Hm, exactly. I'm dyin' to get rid of that."
Buffy: "Funny."
Angel: "I'm a funny guy."
Buffy: "(reading Joyce's thoughts) You had sex with Giles? You had sex with Giles?"
Joyce: "It was the candy, we were teenagers."
Buffy: "On the hood of a police car?"
Joyce: "I'll be downstairs. You feel better."
Buffy: "Twice?"
Buffy: "My life happens on occasion to suck beyond the telling of it. Sometimes more than I can handle. And it’s not just mine. Every single person down there is ignoring your pain because they're too busy with their own. The beautiful ones. The popular ones. The guys that pick on you. Everyone. If you could hear what they were feeling. The loneliness. The confusion. It looks quiet down there. It’s not. It’s deafening."
Willow: "So, you're feeling better about Angel?"
Buffy: "Well, we talked, then, then he ripped out the heart of a demon and fed it to me, and-and then we talked some more."
Willow: "See? That's how it should work."
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