"Help" is the fourth episode of seventh season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer television show, and is the hundred twenty-sixth episode in the series. Written by Rebecca Rand Kirshner and directed by Rick Rosenthal, it originally broadcast on October 15, 2002 on UPN.
CRUEL FATE — Buffy starts her first week counseling students at Sunnydale High and meets a teen named Cassie, who somehow knows her own death will occur in just a few days. Buffy, along with the help of the gang, rushes to find out the circumstances of Cassie's death and how to prevent it. Willow begins to make peace and settle back into Sunnydale life.
Once the lights are turned out at a funeral home, Buffy, Xander and Dawn climb out of caskets. They chat about Buffy's nervousness about her new job and the struggle she may face while trying to mix her Slayer job with being a counselor. In one of the caskets, the three find a deceased woman who soon rises as a vampire, and is promptly staked.
At the high school the next day, Buffy talks with various students who all have their own problems ranging from trouble with bullies and violence to boredom. Willow and Xander walk together and talk about Buffy's struggles and Willow's worries about her role in dealing with the impending Hellmouth danger and if she was truly ready to come back to Sunnydale. Xander assures her that she'll be fine, although it may take time, then makes sure that Willow's ready for what she's about to do. Willow silently nods before walking forward alone towards Tara's grave.
Buffy talks with more students, including her own sister. But one girl named Cassie Newton stuns counselor Buffy when she matter-of-factly informs Buffy that she's going to die next Friday. Buffy has tons of questions, but Cassie doesn't have many answers. She doesn't understand it, but Cassie just knows that she's going to die and that there will be lots of coins. As she leaves for Mr. Corrigan's trigonometry class, Cassie compliments Buffy's shirt and warns her against the danger of spilling something on it. Buffy reports this to Principal Wood, but he's not as helpful as she'd like. After spilling coffee onto her white shirt, Buffy gets suspicious and sends Dawn to befriend Cassie. Dawn catches up with Cassie and they talk about Cassie's friend Mike Helgenberg, who has continuously asked Cassie to the dance, and been rejected every time.
Willow investigates Cassie on the computer and finds Cassie's own site with tons of sad, morbid poetry. Dawn returns home from school and thinks the reason for Cassie's problem is Mike, but Buffy and the others don't pay much attention. Willow finds a website on Cassie's father that shows his troubled past with the law and alcohol. Buffy and Xander go visit Cassie's father and confront him with their suspicion that he may get drunk and hurt his daughter. Mr. Newton confidently denies the accusation, and then goes on about how his ex-wife only allows him to spend one weekend a month with his daughter. Buffy then finds out that Mr. Newton's weekend with Cassie is the weekend just gone. Therefore, not only does he not have the chance to hurt Cassie, but if Cassie's prediction is true, then he will not see her again before her death.
Satisfied that Mr. Newton is not involved, Buffy and Xander leave and bump into Cassie, who was waiting for them outside of her dad's house. Although she appreciates Buffy's efforts to find the cause, she knows there's nothing Buffy can do to stop her death. Xander asks her if she's planning to kill herself, which Cassie denies. She talks about all the things she wishes she could do — going to the dance, going to college, falling in love, as well as many other things. But she knows she never can. She makes it clear to Buffy and Xander that she doesn't want to die, it's just what is going to happen on Friday.
Meanwhile, a group of guys in red cloaks walk around a circle and burn pictures of Cassie on a tray in the middle. Still motivated to help Cassie, Buffy reads poetry from Cassie's site and continues to investigate with the rest of the gang. Buffy goes to the school basement and asks Spike if he knows anything about Cassie. Because he "hurt the girl," he's punishing himself and trying to stay away from the voices. He doesn't have any information for her and Buffy leaves him, thinking her presence hurts him more than when she's not there.
Upstairs, Principal Wood and another administrator search through student lockers for anything suspicious. Buffy catches Mike in the halls and drills him to see if he may have intentions of hurting Cassie because she rejected him. He makes it clear that he doesn't mind that much, and has already moved on to thinking about Dawn. A bunch of coins fall from one of the lockers, drawing Buffy's attention. Buffy takes one of the coins and the number of the locker where they came from and talks to the student the locker belongs to. After some violent prompting, the student confesses that some of his friends want to hurt Cassie.
Dawn and Cassie walk away from the school as Cassie reveals how she knows Buffy sent Dawn to befriend Cassie but it doesn't matter as the two are now clearly real friends. Just then a student named Peter approaches, and Cassie tells Dawn that nothing that is about to happen is her fault. Peter asks Dawn about the dance, but only to be a jerk, not to really ask her out. When an irritated Dawn turns back towards Cassie, she is gone, Peter having successfully distracted her.
At the school that night, the cloaked group gathers again around a circle of coins and one of the boys turns out to be Peter. He checks with the others to make sure the school is secure and that no one can get in or out. Then, he pulls a bound and blindfolded Cassie out to the circle and holds a meat cleaver to her neck. She is to be a sacrifice to a demon that will provide the boys with "infinite riches".
As Peter starts the ritual, Buffy suddenly rips off a cloak, unveiling herself to the group and then smacks him around a bit. She doesn't think the ritual was a success, but a large demon, Avilas, appears behind her, proving her wrong. Buffy fights with the demon and Spike shows up with a flaming torch to help seeming to have at least temporarily regained his sanity as he doesn't want Cassie to get hurt. Buffy uses the torch to burn the demon while Spike cuts Cassie free from her bonds. Cassie tells him, "Someday she'll tell you" which shocks Spike and he retreats away. Desperately, Peter moves towards the fried demon and wants to know where his money is. The burned demon leans up and bites Peter on the shoulder once before exploding into dust.
Buffy and Cassie walk away together, leaving Peter to deal on his own. A crossbow booby trap set by one of the cloaked boys nearly kills Cassie, but Buffy catches the bolt. Buffy is happy that she seemingly stopped Cassie's prediction, and tells the girl that one person can make a difference, to which Cassie responds that Buffy will. Just then Cassie gasps and unexpectedly falls to the ground, dead.
The next day, the Scooby Gang gather at Buffy's and solemnly talk about how Cassie died because of a congenital heart defect. She was always going to die, no matter what happened. Buffy feels as if she failed Cassie, but a devastated Dawn corrects her, saying Buffy didn't fail, since she tried to save Cassie, and it was because of her that Dawn and Cassie were friends. Buffy returns to work, knowing that while she will always try her best, sometimes she just can't help.
- Willow visits Tara's grave for the first time. She leaves some small stones on the tombstone, a Jewish tradition to recognize that the dead are remembered and indicate that someone has been to visit the grave.
- Amanda appears for the first time; she'll appear again in episode "Potential" and stay with the Scooby Gang for the rest of the season.
- While Cassie informs Buffy that she herself will die next Friday, she tells Buffy she just "knows" things. At one point she tells Buffy she will go somewhere "dark and underground", which alludes to the season finale "Chosen", when Buffy enters the Hellmouth for her final stand against the First.
- Cassie tells Spike: "She'll tell you. Someday she'll tell you", alluding to when Buffy says to Spike in episode "Chosen" that she loves him.
- Cassie's speech above is similar to a speech made by Buffy in "Becoming, Part Two": "Do you think I chose to be like this? Do you have any idea how lonely it is? How dangerous? I would love to be upstairs watching TV or gossiping about boys or, God, even studying! But I have to save the world. Again.", and one made by Angel in the Angel episode "War Zone": "What do I want? Love, family, a place on this planet I can call my own. But you know what?...I'm never gonna have any of those things."
- Cassie Newton's death is one of only two in the show's huge body count that were due to natural causes. The other was Joyce Summers in "The Body".
- This is the first appearance of Amanda, who would later be activated as a Slayer. ("Chosen"). She already demonstrates typical Slayer attributes such as violence and being attracted to a boy who makes her miserable.
- Cassie's situation is similar to Buffy in "Prophecy Girl". Her story is similar to that of Buffy, in that both girls were "destined" to die because of it.
- This is the second time that Buffy refers to herself as "Buffy, the Vampire Slayer," the first time being in "Anne".
- Ben (Only mentioned)
- Corrigan (Only mentioned)
- Alexander Harris
- Mike Helgenberg
- Tara Maclay (Only mentioned)
- Mr. Miller (Only mentioned)
- Cassandra Newton
- Phillip Newton
- Peter Nicols
- Willow Rosenberg
- Buffy Summers
- Dawn Summers
- Joyce Summers (Only in picture)
- Martin Wilder
- Robin Wood
- Unidentified vampire (Help)
Organizations and titles
Weapons and objects
Rituals and spells
- Unidentified vampire, staked by Buffy.
- Avilas, burned by Buffy with a torch.
- Cassie Newton, died because of a congenital heart defect.
Behind the scenes
- Despite credited, Emma Caulfield and Beth Skipp do not appear in this episode, as their only scene was cut.
- Cassie's name is an obvious reference to the mythological Cassandra. In the world of Greek/Roman mythology, she was a seer whose visions always came true. However, after rejecting the advances of the god Apollo, he placed a curse on her that ensured that her prophesies would never be heeded. This is reflected in Cassie's various predictions, which are in time realized, regardless of the surrounding people's doubts and disbelief.
- This episode marks the first use of "Google" as a verb in television.
- Anya attempts to get a woman named Lulu to make a wish in revenge for her boyfriend forgetting her birthday, but accidentally ends up counselling her into forgiving him instead.
Pop culture references
- Cassandra is seen reading the Kurt Vonnegut novel Slaughterhouse-Five, which mirrors the plot of the episode. In the novel, the main character knows in advance when he is going to die, though not by prophecy gift but by his erratic time traveling.
- Willow wrote a "Doogie Howser" fanfic. Actress Alyson Hannigan and Neil Patrick Harris have known each other for many years. After Buffy, Alyson went on to star in How I Met Your Mother with Harris.
- After Buffy and Xander leave Cassie's home, Cassie is seen wearing a White Stripes t-shirt.
- Xander: "It's not the friendliest jingle, is it? It's no 'I like Ike' or 'Milk, it does a body good.'"
"I Like Ike" was the campaign slogan Dwight "Ike" Eisenhower during the presidential elections of 1952. "Milk, it does a body good" was the slogan of America's National Dairy Board in the 1980s.
- Buffy suggests Cassie to join the French Foreign Legion, a military formation serving as a branch of the regular Armed Forces of France, but it differs from other military units by accepting foreigners from any country in the world into its ranks.
- Willow questions if Cassie is a "pre-cog", in reference to the 2002 movie Minority Report, in which 3 "pre-cogs" (precognitive), telepaths able to foresee future murders, were used to prevent the crimes before they happened.
- Willow asks Buffy: "Have you googled her yet?", referring to the popular search engine Google.
- Cassie mentions she'd love to ice skate at Rockefeller Center, the large building complex that includes an ice-skating rink.
- Robin says: "Thank god it's Friday. I can't believe I just said that." This phrase, abbreviated as "TGIF," is a common American saying, which obviously represents relief that the end of the work week (or school week) has arrived. The phrase lent itself to the restaurant chain TGI Fridays, and ABC used it to advertise their Friday night lineup for quite some time.
- Buffy mentions "Blue Clam Cult", in attempt to refer to Blue Öyster Cult, the rock band formed in New York in 1967.
- Robert Duncan — original score
- Armenian: "Օգնություն" (Help)
- Czech: "Pomoc" (Help)
- Finnish: "Avun Tarpeessa" (In Need of Help)
- French: "La Prédiction" (The Prediction)
- German: "Hilflos" (Helpless)
- Hungarian: "Segítség!" (Help!)
- Italian: "Aiuto" (Help)
- Japanese: "助けて!" (Help)
- Polish: "Pomocy" (Help)
- Portuguese (Brazil): "Ajuda" (Help)
- Romanian: "Altruist" (Altruist)
- Russian: "Помощь" (Help)
- Spanish (Latin America): "Ayuda" (Help)
- Spanish (Spain): "Socorro" (Help)
- This episode has two actors, Glenn Morshower, as Mr. Newton, and D. B. Woodside as Principal Wood, who would later star together in 24.
- Actor Zachery Tyler Bryan, who guest stars as Peter Nicols, is best known for his role of Brad Taylor on Home Improvement.
Behind the scenes
|Buffy - "You seem kind of upset. Something on your mind?"|
|Mike - "No, not really. Well, I got a lousy 'B' in Egyptian history. Knew this stuff cold, so that, you know, that pisses me off."|
|Buffy - "You get... pissed off a lot?"|
|Mike - "No, I—"|
|Buffy - "Let me cut to the chase. I hear you can't get a date for the Winter Formal."|
|Mike - "Oh, whoa. Look, I know it's your job to talk to kids with problems, but honestly, I don't have any. I'm fine. All right, look, it's really no big deal. I have a friend that I really wanted to take— I don't know, I guess she doesn't see me that way." (laughs) "She makes me crazy."|
|Buffy - "Crazy?"|
|Mike - "Yeah."|
|Mike - "You're Dawn's sister, right?"|
|Buffy - "Uh, that's right. Dawn is my sister."|
|Mike - "Oh, that's so weird. I was just thinking about her. Yeah, I was thinking if, you know, Cassie won't budge, maybe I'll ask Dawn."|
|Buffy - "You aren't mad at Cassie, with her rejecting you like that?"|
|Mike - "Nah. She's a girl, right? Making boys crazy is, like, your job description."|
|Buffy - (nods and smiles a little before realizing what Mike means) "You're asking my sister to the dance? And she's your second choice?"|
|Willow - "I'm over you, sweetie."|
|Cassie - "You think I want this? You think I don't care? Believe me, I want to be here! Do things! I want to graduate from high school and I want to go to the stupid Winter Formal. I have this friend and it'd be fun to go with him, to dance and hear lame music, to wear a silly dress and laugh and stuff. I'd like to go. There's a lot of stuff I'd like to do. I'd love to ice skate at Rockefeller Center, and I'd love to see my cousins grow up and see how they turn out, because they're really mean and I think they're going to be fat. I'd love to backpack across the country or... I don't know... fall in love? But I won't. I just never will."|
|Willow - "Have you googled her yet?"|
|Xander - "Willow, she's seventeen!"|
|Willow - "It's a search engine."|
- ↑ Robinson Meyer, "The First Use of 'to Google' on Television? Buffy the Vampire Slayer". The Atlantic, June 27, 2014.