Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Season 3, Episode 18
3x18 Earshot
Air date September 21, 1999
Written by Jane Espenson
Directed by Regis Kemble
Episode Guide


"Earshot" is the eighteenth episode of the third season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and is the fifty-second episode altogether. The screenplay was written by Jane Espenson and directed by Regis Kemble. It originally broadcast on September 21, 1999.


Buffy gains a telepathic ability after defeating a demon, but soon finds it too hard to handle - especially after hearing about a mass-murder attempt in her high school.


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While on patrol, Buffy fights two mysterious, mouthless demons. One manages to escape, but Buffy slays the other. However, she doesn't notice that some of the demon's blue blood gets on her skin. 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 stopping his Ascension. Wesley soon arrives, promising new updates, but his information is obsolete.

Meanwhile, Willow and Buffy talk about the current Angel/Faith situation. 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, everybody except for Buffy is going.

Buffy is bothered by persistent itchiness on her hand (the one the demon blood got on), and decides to confer to Giles about it. After a little research, Giles tells her, rather distractedly, that the demon's blood might have infected her with an 'aspect of the demon.'
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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.

The next day at school, Buffy finds the rest of them ecstatic about the game held the day before. When Cordelia passes by, Buffy hears Xander wondering if she and Wesley had kissed before - although the problem is, he wasn't wondering it aloud. Buffy then walks through the school halls, where she suddenly starts hearing people's thoughts. Buffy, freaked, talks to Giles about her new ability, where Giles realizes the demons are telepathic. Buffy seems overjoyed about it, and Giles says that this power is very useful in combat.

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Buffy discovers that telepathy doesn't work on vampires.

However, Buffy decides to try it out in class instead. During American Literature, she answers the teacher's questions without difficulty, impressing the rest of the students, the teacher, and even herself. Buffy then hears the thoughts of Freddy Iverson, who writes editorials for the school newspaper, and has a seriously negative opinion about everything at Sunnydale High. Later that evening, Buffy visits Angel at the mansion and attempts to use her mind-reading abilities on him. But Buffy realizes that she can't as Angel's thoughts no more reflect into her mind than his image does in a mirror. Angel reveals to her that what happened with Faith meant nothing, and reassured Buffy that she's all he ever loved in 243 years.

The gang meets up at the library again the next morning, where Buffy tells her friends her newfound ability. 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 newfound power starts to become painful as the voices become too much for her to endure. Just then, a single, menacing voice pops up; "This time tomorrow, I'll kill you all". Buffy passes out, overwhelmed by the cacaphony of others' thoughts.

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When she regains consciousness, Buffy tells The Scoobies to find out everyone in the cafeteria, and interrogate them, to find out who the potential 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 that she and Giles has had sex, twice, and on a hood of a police car.

Meanwhile, the rest of the gang starts interrogating members of the faculty and the students. They make little progress with their research and almost all 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, but it requires the heart of the second demon. Angel hunts down the demon at the cemetery, and successfully acquires the heart.

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He brings the ingredients needed for the spell to [[Summers' residence}Buffy's house]] the next morning. Giles performs an incantation, and Buffy downs the potion. Buffy's body soon goes into convulsions, and she starts spasming and 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 (would-be) killer. Rather, he's been avoiding Oz out of fear that Oz is mad at him for a negative review he had written about Oz's band).

Buffy shows up just as the group 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.
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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 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 -- problems they consider bigger than his own. She takes the rifle from him and unloads it, just as he admits his plans on committing suicide. In the meantime, Xander is still looking for Jonathan in the cafeteria and stumbles upon the overweight lunch lady putting rat poison into the food.

Xander runs out and warns everybody to stop eating the food. 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. Soon after, Giles and Buffy recap the events as they walk around the school grounds. Giles asks her if she's up for some training, and Buffy says she is - that if he isn't too busy sleeping with her mother. Giles walks straight into a tree.

Quotes and trivia

  • Oz: (thinking) I am my thoughts. If they exist in her, Buffy contains everything that is me, and she becomes me. I cease to exist. (Aloud) Hmm.
  • 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?
  • Willow: The school paper is edging on depressing, lately. Have you guys noticed that?
Oz: I don't know. I always go strait to the obits.
  • Xander: You know, Oz, I look at all this beauty, all these healthy young women and I wonder why I ever wasted my time on Cordelia. I mean, look at her. She's no better lookin' than the rest of 'em.
Oz: None of them are really my...
Xander: Oh, my God! He's lookin' at her. He's got his filthy adult Pierce Brosnany eyes all over my Cordy.
Oz: You're a very complex man, aren't you?
  • 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.
  • Oz: (reading Freddy's review) "'Dingoes Ate My Baby' played their instruments as if they had plump Polish sausages taped to their fingers."
Freddy: Sorry, man.
Oz: No, that's fair.
  • 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.
  • This episode marks the second time Willow interrogates Jonathan, the first having been in "Go Fish".
  • The name of the Sunnydale High School newspaper is The Sentinel.
  • 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.
  • According to a British slang dictionary, Giles was calling Wesley an idiot when he said, "Berk," a (slightly more profane) cross between "idiot" and "jerk."
  • The Sunnydale High school clock tower was constructed especially for this episode. It will be seen only one more time: When it explodes in "Graduation Day, Part 2".
  • 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 was because she was shocked fans still weren't sure about this.
  • The scene at the end, 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.
  • Buffy's class discuss Shakespeare's Othello in Literature class. The original script had them discussing Henry VIII, but Joss Whedon rewrote the scene to make it tie in with Buffy's feelings (and the sub-theme of this episode).
  • Regis Kemble who directed this episode, also designed the title sequences for Angel.
  • This episode's subject matter, in conjunction with the mass shooting at Columbine High School (which occured 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 due to the final scene which includes Sunnydale High's destruction). 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 favourite Buffy episodes) to be released on schedule. She thought it was great and would help those affected by the Columbine tragedy. The Buffy novel, The Evil That Men Do was also delayed due to Columbine; it was published one year later than originally planned.
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