"Storyteller" is the sixteenth episode of the seventh season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer television show, and is the one hundred thirty-eighth episode in the series. Written by Jane Espenson and directed by Marita Grabiak, it originally broadcast on February 25, 2003 on UPN.
GENTLE VIEWERS — Andrew attempts to document the life and work of Buffy, Slayer of the vampires, much to the annoyance of Buffy. Meanwhile, students at Sunnydale High begin exhibiting the signs of going to school above the Hellmouth — signs Buffy has seen before, but not all at once like this. Buffy and Principal Wood discover the Seal of Danthalzar is cause and set out to find a way to stop it.
Andrew imagines that he is situated in an old library with a roaring fire, dressed in a smoking jacket and holding a pipe, describing his own version of "Buffy, Slayer of the Vampyrs". Instead, he's taking refuge in the bathroom talking to a video camera, and his dramatic narrative is cut short when Anya knocks on the bathroom door. He tries to explain his actions, and Anya reminds him of Buffy's irritated reaction the previous night, when he had followed her on patrol. He explains his desire to make a record of the events leading up to the apocalypse, in case humans survive, so that they will know what Buffy and her allies did.
Later, Andrew talks to the video camera and uses his big white board to illustrate and explain the array of evil forces in Sunnydale. He continues to interview the residents of the house, starting with the Potential Slayers. He introduces a romanticized version of everyone to the camera, a fantasy in which Buffy seductively pours cereal, Spike appears without a shirt, and Anya eats from a bunch of grapes. Buffy reiterates her irritation with Andrew's behavior. As she describes her vision of vampire armies to her friends, Andrew sneaks away to continues his narrative, describing an idyllic scene of himself as leader of the Trio. As Buffy continues to talk, Andrew observes Willow and Kennedy and recounts his encounter with Dark Willow. Altering the past, Andrew imagines himself standing up to Dark Willow and deflecting her power while Jonathan meekly hides behind him.
Buffy arrives at the school to find two boys fighting, a shy girl turning invisible because nobody notices her, and various other disturbances. Buffy finds Principal Wood, who has just been injured by a thrown rock. As she bandages his head, they discuss the bizarre (yet familiar) chaos dominating the school. She explains her suspicions that the activation of the Seal of Danzalthar is behind the morning's chaos. They investigate the newly-uncovered seal in the school basement. As Robin gets close to the seal, he is infused with evil. In a demonic voice, he berates Buffy for her involvement with Spike. The connection is broken when Buffy pulls him away from the seal, leaving Robin with no memory of the possession.
Meanwhile, at the Summers' home, Andrew films Dawn, then praises Xander's expert repairs to the windows (ignoring Willow and Kennedy, who are kissing in the living room). He re-interviews Xander and Anya, prying into their feelings about their ruined wedding. Afterward, the two to talk to each other about what happened and what feelings still exist between them. In the basement, Spike tells Andrew and his camera to get lost; Andrew interrupts with a lighting correction, and Spike (performing for the camera) enthusiastically repeats his verbal assault. Upstairs, Xander and Anya discuss their love for each other; they are recorded by a hidden camera, which Andrew reviews later. When Buffy and Robin arrive, they inform Andrew that he is going to help them deal with the Seal (which, at this point, is surrounded by five possessed students and glowing with light).
The gang drills Andrew for information about the seal and tries to force out his memories with a special charm. He remembers an event from Mexico, where he had fled with Jonathan the year before. In his memory, he and Jonathan suddenly wake from the same nightmare, both haunted by their evil pasts. After Jonathan leaves the room, the First appears to Andrew in Warren's form, questioning his progress in obtaining the knife necessary to sacrifice Jonathan. In the present, Willow asks Andrew where that knife is now (Buffy's silverware drawer). The knife is engraved with a language that is tied to the seal, and Willow begins to research.
Buffy tells Andrew that she believes that he can help her quiet the Seal. They leave for the school, accompanied by Spike and Robin. They arrive to find that the school is being destroyed by ongoing student riots. Andrew tries to film their walk through the halls, but they are attacked by several strong students. Buffy and Andrew make their way to the basement while Spike and Robin guard the stairway entrance. As they walk, Andrew tells Buffy about what happened when he killed Jonathan. In this version, however, he refuses to do the deed when goaded by the First in the form of Warren, and when Jonathan sees the knife he attacks Andrew who accidental stabs him, followed by Andrew dramatically screaming for his fallen friend. When Buffy mentions Wood's earlier possession, Andrew instantly changes his story so that he stabbed Jonathan while under the seal's thrall. They enter the basement room carefully and find five students standing around the seal, their eyes freshly cut and sealed (like Harbingers of Death). In the Summers' basement, Xander and Anya revel in the aftermath of having sex again before talking about moving on with their lives (a conversation that fades into an awkward silence).
At the school, Spike and Robin are attacked by more students. Spike inadvertently confirms his role in the murder of Robin's mother, and Robin makes a failed attempt to stake Spike; in the chaos of the fight, his actions go unnoticed. Buffy battles the new Bringers while Andrew records the scene with his camera. Once she has killed the Bringers, Buffy pulls out the knife and advances on Andrew, revealing that they must spill his blood to quiet the Seal, since he was the one who initially activated it. Buffy describes the bitter prospects for their future, and chastises his constant attempts to avoid taking responsibility for his actions. Andrew, frightened to tears, admits how he willingly murdered Jonathan despite knowing deep down that he wasn't really dealing with Warren, and how he is sorry. He tells Buffy that he deserves whatever happens to him. Buffy leans Andrew over the Seal so that his tears fall on its surface. The Seal closes and becomes quiet. Buffy reveals to Andrew that tears, not blood, were necessary to close the seal; she had no plans to kill him. The students around the school are released, and the violence stops.
Later, a sad Andrew talks to the camera in the bathroom again, confessing that he probably will die, and that he deserves to. He shuts the camera off.
- Andrew steps out of the room while Buffy gives a speech about her vision of hundreds of Turok-Han from the previous episode, "Get It Done".
- Buffy says that she's seen all of the things happening in Sunnydale High before, mentioning the swim team monsters from "Go Fish" and the hellhounds from "The Prom". A student turning invisible echoes the events of "Out of Mind, Out of Sight".
- Andrew says that "Dawn used to be a key." However, her identity as the Key remains, as she begins exploring in In Pieces on the Ground, Part Five.
- When interviewing Xander and Anya, Andrew mentions that it has been exactly one year since Xander left Anya at the altar. "Storyteller" and "Hell's Bells" were both the sixteenth episodes of their respective seasons.
- The Cheese Man, who appeared in the dreams of Buffy, Xander, Willow, and Giles in "Restless", the fourth season finale, appears for a split second (along with his cheese) during Andrew and Jonathan's nightmare.
- The pig that Robin hopes isn't a student is the pig that Andrew kept failing to kill in "Never Leave Me".
- Andrew and Jonathan's nightmare feature scenes from previous episodes, including: both the Istanbul Potential Slayer and the Frankfurt Potential Slayer being attacked by Bringers in "Lessons" and "Beneath You", Spike bleeding on the Seal in "Never Leave Me", a Turok-Han going after Buffy in "Showtime", and the Cheese Man in Willow's dream in "Restless".
- When the First (as Warren) asks Andrew to show him the recently acquired knife, he misinterprets the request as referring to the assortment of other weapons sold by the demon that had the knife. He explains that he didn't actually buy them, but begins describing them before the First cuts him off. A nearly identical conversation occurs in "First Date", between Andrew and the First (as Jonathan), about the gun that had been hidden in Buffy's underwear drawer, and again in "End of Days" between himself and Anya about a rash he once had.
- Andrew has flashbacks to the events of episodes, although altered to his own version of the story, including his encounter with Dark Willow in "Two to Go" and the murder of Jonathan in "Conversations with Dead People".
- Andrew calls Xander "the heart of the Slayer machine." This references the enjoining spell in which Xander served as "the heart" for, in episode "Primeval".
- After having sex with Xander, Anya states that they are now "really over" and "can move on". It's similar to her declaration in "The Harsh Light of Day" following their first time having sex, where she says "So I'm over you now."
- Andrew will bring his video camera and storytelling out again years later, in Retreat.
- Cheese Man
- The First Evil
- Rupert Giles
- Alexander Harris
- Hildebrand (Only mentioned)
- Anya Jenkins
- Jonathan Levinson (Only in flashbacks)
- Warren Mears (Only in visions)
- Willow Rosenberg
- Buffy Summers
- Dawn Summers
- Andrew Wells
- Robin Wood
- Frankfurt Potential Slayer (Only in visions)
- Istanbul Potential Slayer (Only in visions)
- Shy Girl
- Stressed Out Boy
- Unidentified crying girl (Storyteller)
Organizations and titles
- Harbingers of Death
- The Key
- Potential Slayer
- Scooby Gang
- The Trio (Only in visions)
- Gill Monster (Only mentioned)
- Hellhound (Only mentioned)
- Turok-Han (Only in visions)
- Unicorn (Only in visions)
- Frankfurt, Germany (Only in visions)
- Istanbul, Turkey (Only in visions)
- Mexico (Only in flashbacks)
- Sunnydale, USA
Weapons and objects
- Two vampires, staked by Buffy Summers.
- A boy, exploded due to stress.
Behind the scenes
- The voice in the nightmare says in Spanish "Desde abajo te devora", that is, "From beneath, it devours you". Andrew and Jonathan hear it as "Desme adbul te debora", and incorrectly translate it as "It eats you, starting from your bottom."
- The monster of the Mutant Enemy Productions logo, instead of saying his famous "Grr, Argh!", sings "We are as gods!", as the Trio sang during the episode.
- This exchange was cut due to length:
- Wood: "I think out biggest problem is here in the music room. I fear there could be open hostilities between swing choir and marching band."
- Buffy: "I don't know if we can keep a lid on this all by ourselves. We might need some kind of help."
- Wood: Like what? Police?"
- This exchange was also cut due to length:
- Buffy: "We had to call in guards to keep the place from going up like a prison riot."
- Andrew: "Oh my."
- Wood: "The guards were still clearing kids out of there when we left."
Pop culture references
- Andrew imagines himself in a parody of the series Masterpiece Theatre.
- Books shown in the opening sequence include collections of Shakespeare and Nietzsche, and also Marvel Treasury Edition #13, open to the splash page of the Hulk story from Tales to Astonish #93, "He Who Strikes the Silver Surfer."
- Andrew's request for a "nice, refreshing Zima" was an in-joke for Jane Espenson, who had worked on that advertising campaign years earlier.
- After Buffy explains the strange things she's seen occurring at Sunnydale High to him,Robin Wood says "So what? it's like Hell's a-bustin out all over?" Referencing the song "June is Bustin out all over" from the musical Carousel
Goofs, bloopers & continuity errors
- After breaking up the hallway fight, Buffy notices a shy girl turning invisible. In the widescreen version of this episode, the girl is clearly visible on the left side of the screen and when Buffy "slaps" her, she clearly does not make contact.
- When Andrew is speaking with the First as Warren in Mexico, Andrew is barefoot when he gets out of the bed. But when it cuts to him grabbing a box out from under the bed, he is wearing sandals.
- Robert Duncan — "Hell School & the Prokaryote Stone"
- Armenian: "Պատմողը" (Narrator)
- Czech: "Pohádkář" (Storyteller)
- Finnish: "Videolla kerrottua" (In the Video)
- French: "Sous Influence" (Under the Influence)
- German: "Der Geschichtenerzähler" (The Storyteller)
- Hungarian: "Emlékezet" (Remembrance)
- Italian: "Il Narratore" (The Narrator)
- Japanese: "l迷監督 アンドリュー" (Stray Director Andrew)
- Polish: "Ku potomności" (To Posterity)
- Portuguese (Brazil): "Contador de Histórias" (Storyteller)
- Romanian: "Storyteller" (Storyteller)
- Russian: "Рассказчик" (Narrator)
- Spanish (Latin America): "El Cuentista" (The Storyteller)
- Spanish (Spain): "Cuentacuentos" (Storyteller)
- The book "Chosen: The One" includes a novelization of this episode, along with all season 7.
- The Trio's fantasy scene of living as gods from this episode is included as an illustration for the "Buffy the Vampire Slayer Adult Coloring Book".
|Andrew - "Oh, hello there gentle viewers! You caught me catching up on an old favorite. It's wonderful to get lost in a story, isn't it? Adventures and heroics and discovery, don't they just take you away?"|
|Warren - "What will it do to Buffy?"|
|Andrew - "Make her super-magnetic!"|
|Jonathan - "Wow! She won't be able to get out of her car!"|
|Warren - "And knives and other sharp things will fly at her!"|
|Andrew - "We could walk right by her and she wouldn't be able to stop us."|
|Warren - "Unless we're wearing metal belt buckles. Then we'd stick to her."|
|Andrew - "In my plan... we are beltless."|
|Buffy - "Are you still filming me? Stop."|
|Andrew - "But it's a valuable record. An important document for the ages. 'A Slayer in Action'."|
|Buffy - "'A Nerd in Pain'. Would they like that? 'Cause we could do that."|