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"The Killer in Me" is the thirteenth episode of the seventh season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and the one 135th episode in the series. Written by Drew Z. Greenberg and directed by David Solomon, it was originally broadcast on February 4, 2003, on the UPN network.


A KISS IS STILL A KISS — Spike's chip is malfunctioning, prompting to Buffy to search for a way to fix it. Meanwhile, a kiss with Kennedy turns Willow into Warren, and Kennedy races to help Willow find a solution before she becomes Warren permanently. Giles takes the rest of the potentials on a quest in the desert, while Xander and the others get a call from England, which leads them to believe Giles may not be Giles.[1]


Giles prepares to take the Potential Slayers on a trip to the desert to meet the First Slayer. Kennedy, who's sick with the flu, stays home and after hearing about all the bickering and problems with the Potentials and their driving trip, Giles wishes he was staying home too. Buffy goes to check on Spike, who's chained up in the basement. They chat about the girls being gone and Spike's decision to stay chained up until they know the First Evil is through with him. While they talk about dealing with that problem, Spike's starts to writhe in pain as unexpectedly, the chip starts frying his brain.

Buffy talks with Willow in the kitchen about Spike's chip and what little they actually know about it. Willow goes upstairs and finds Kennedy is not sick and she's getting dressed for a "mission" which requires Willow's assistance. The mission turns out to be drinks at the Bronze and the sneakiness of it doesn't impress Willow much. Kennedy does manage to get Willow to stay long enough to finish her drink and she starts up conversation about Willow's sexuality. Eventually, Willow opens up and talks about being gay and her relationship with Tara. Back in the basement, Buffy checks on Spike again and, after they talk about the potential causes of the chip's glitches, she realizes she's going to have to contact the people who helped put the chip in his head in the first place. Buffy tries to reach Riley on the phone while Spike's chip continues to cause him terrible pain.

Willow and Kennedy finish their drinks as they continue to chat about why Kennedy is interested in Willow. Back at the house, Willow returns to her room and Kennedy follows. Kennedy moves in and kisses Willow, but the kiss has a surprising effect: it makes Willow take on the appearance of Warren. Willow panics and rushes downstairs and scares the rest of the gang with her appearance and potential First Evil quality. It takes some convincing, but once Buffy actually hits Warren and Willow reminds Xander of some other kindergarten stories she knows, they realize it's not The First. Willow goes off to handle her glamour problem, but she finds unwanted company in Kennedy tagging along.

After yet another attack of Spike's chip, Buffy and Spike return to the site of the Initiative in hopes of getting some of the drugs Spike was supposedly given to subdue him whenever his chip went crazy. They climb back inside the buried building through a trap door in the ground.

The Watcher Robson calls the Summers' residence and informs the gang about Giles's seemingly fatal encounter with the Bringers and an axe, mentioning that he blacked out just as the Bringer was about to swing and by the time he woke up Giles was gone. This gives the gang concern, since Giles never mentioned this to any of them start to question whether Giles survived that encounter or not, as if he died then the First may have taken his form to infiltrate Buffy's inner circle. Andrew mentions that the First is incorporeal so they'd know it was really Giles if any of them have touched him, but no one can recall actually doing so. Xander, Anya, Dawn, and Andrew rush to the desert knowing that, if Giles is really the First, then he has successfully isolated all the Potentials. They are able to touch him and discover it is really Giles, leaving him annoyed with them.

Willow takes Kennedy to meet with the Wiccan group at UC Sunnydale. She's surprised to see that Amy is a part of the group and claims to have changed her magical ways. Amy attempts to help Willow rid herself of the glamor, but the spell Amy tries brings forth another surprise: A burst of Warren from inside of Willow. Willow tries to run away as she realizes she's not just looking like Warren, she's becoming him. Kennedy tries to follow, but Willow puts up a magical barrier to keep her from doing so.

Buffy and Spike wander through the remains of the Initiative facilities and pass by the many dead bodies of the human and demon sort that were sealed inside. Meanwhile, Willow runs outside in tears but Warren begins to take more control and he heads off on a mission. Inside the Initiative, Spike and Buffy hear noises and then are attacked by a demon. Buffy is knocked down by the demon while Spike's chip misfires again. The demon grabs Spike and drags him off into the darkness.

Kennedy returns to the school and finds Amy packing up supplies and the rest of the group gone. Amy comments on Kennedy's concern for Willow, but Kennedy gets suspicious when she realizes Amy knows she's a Potential and that fact was never mentioned to her.

Guided by Warren, Willow goes to the gun shop where he bought his last deadly weapon and Willow buys the same one. Giles is tackled to the ground by Xander and the others and they're all pleased to find that he has a solid form and is not the First Evil.

Buffy battles with and finally kills the demon inside the Initiative. As she crouches down by Spike, lights turn on and a flood of military men reveal themselves. The commanding officer explains that Buffy's attempted contact with Riley was successful and that they're there to help her and Spike. Buffy talks with the commanding officer and he reveals that Spike's chip is a danger to him now. She is given the choice to decide whether the chip is fixed or removed.

Kennedy confronts Amy about the fact that Amy is responsible for Willow's current "Warren" problem. Amy reveals that she put a Penance Malediction hex on Willow for fun because Willow was able to do so much evil and still get the love of her friends back. Kennedy is determined to save Willow and stop Amy, but Amy's not threatened. Armed with a gun, Willow charges into Buffy's backyard where Kennedy is waiting after being transported by Amy. Willow starts to relive the moment of Tara's death from Warren's perspective, but Kennedy talks her down. Through her sobs, Willow reveals that she turned into Warren not because he was the man she murdered, but because he was Tara's killer. She tells Kennedy that when she kissed her, she forgot just for a moment to grieve for Tara, and in forgetting, she let her truly die — in essence, killing her. She then says she's worried that she's going to lose the battle with Warren for her body. Kennedy convinces her otherwise and brings Willow back by kissing her.


  • The Vision Quest to be underwent by the Potential Slayers is implied to be the same as Buffy underwent in "Intervention."
  • Spike has severe pain due to the chip in his brain malfunctioning. The Initiative implanted it more than 3 years prior, in "The Initiative."
  • Willow and Kennedy kiss for the first time. They will develop a romantic relationship, which would last until Last Gleaming, Part Five.
  • Andrew mentions the promises of happy fields and being demigods the First made as Warren. Andrew's vision of this will be seen in "Storyteller."
  • Buffy has trouble trying to directly contact Riley despite both he and Sam gave the Scoobies their secure email addresses in "As You Were."
  • Although in "Primeval" a military committee ordered the Initiative to be filled with cement, at least portions of it remain intact.
  • Willow mentions her history with her "witchy subconscious" causing problems, referencing the "I can't see you, you can't see me" spell in "Same Time, Same Place."
  • Kennedy and Willow go to see the Daughters of Gaea, the wannabe Wicca group Willow met Tara in "Hush."
  • The soldiers sent by Riley relay to Buffy his instructions that it is up to her to choose whether to fix or remove Spike's chip. She will choose to have it removed, as will be seen in the next episode, "First Date."
  • The gang learns of Giles' possible death from "Sleeper" but confirms he is alive. His survival will be explained in the next episode, "First Date."
  • When Willow enters Buffy's backyard with the gun, she imitates Warren's lines from when he sought Buffy to shoot her in "Seeing Red." Willow says: "You think you could just do that to me? That I'd let you get away with it?" while Warren said: "You think you could just do that to me? You think I'd let you get away with that?"



Organizations and titles[]




Rituals and spells[]

Death count[]

  • Unidentified demon, impaled by Buffy in the Initiative.

Behind the scenes[]


  • Anthony Stewart Head was not allowed to touch anything while onscreen for several episodes prior to this one, in order to set up the suspicion that Giles might actually be the First, which was apparently quite a pain for all involved.[2] When asked why he set up this misdirection, Joss Whedon says it was "to make people wonder. Just to have a little fun in the sense of pulling a mystery... an exercise, something to spice things up." Whedon wanted to play off the "creepy" idea that "we don't know where the bad guy is, we don't know where he's coming from. Our trusted mentor could be the bad guy."[3]
  • Each scene with Willow/Warren was filmed twice — once with Alyson Hannigan playing Willow and again with Adam Busch as Willow. Which actor performed the scene first depended upon how "Willow" Warren was supposed to be. That is, when Willow first changes into Warren she acts more or less like Willow; in these early scenes Hannigan would act first so that Busch could somewhat mimic her performance. In later scenes when Warren's personality is more prominent Busch would act first. Because of this decision to use both actors, filming the Willow scenes took much longer than usual. In an interview with the BBC - Cult, Elizabeth Anne Allen says: "Everything had to be so exact." She explains that if Alyson or Adam "gestured or moved their head differently from the other person, they had to do the take over again. So that one scene took us a day and a half to shoot."[4]
  • According to Drew Z. Greenberg and David Solomon, the reason there are no Potential Slayers (apart from Kennedy) in the episode is because their budget wouldn't stretch to allow for the extra actors.[2]


  • "The Killer in Me" had an audience of 2.4 million households upon its original airing.[5]

Deleted scenes[]

  • An exchange at the beginning of the episode was cut:[6]
    Giles: "Right. Well, thank goodness I needn't worry myself with the idea of bad things happening in my absence. You getting shot, for example. Or throwing everybody in the basement and trying to kill them. Or Willow turning evil..."
    Dawn: "Oooh, don't forget, Anya turned evil too."
    Buffy: (Buffy turns, stares at Dawn. Not amused. And, back to Giles:) "Okay, just leave."

Pop culture references[]

  • When Andrew grabs the phone, he's hoping to hear that the latest issue of the comic The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen has come in.
  • When Spike asks Buffy "who you gonna call?" concerning his chip, he recognizes his unintentional Ghostbusters reference.
  • Kennedy mentions Gone with the Wind as the movie that made her realize she was gay, saying she wanted to "sweep Scarlett off her feet."
  • When listing the reasons she likes Willow, Kennedy cites mysteries by the novelist Robert Parker and the 2001 film Moulin Rouge!.
  • After she is teleported by Amy, Kennedy says: "That was a hell of a thing," a line used in the film Galaxy Quest after being transported by a Star Trek-esque beam.
  • Andrew mentions the car games ghost and license plate during the drive to the desert.


International titles[]

  • Armenian: "Մարդասպանը իմ մեջ" (The Killer in Me)
  • Czech: "Zabiják ve mně" (The Killer in Me)
  • Finnish: "Tappaja sisimmässäni" (The Killer in Me)
  • French: "Duel" (Duel)
  • German: "Der Mörder in mir" (The Killer in Me)
  • Hungarian: "A gyilkos bennem" (The Killer in Me)
  • Italian: "Il killer che è in me" (The Killer in Me)
  • Japanese: "内なる殺人者" (Inner Murderer)
  • Polish: "Morderca we mnie" (The Killer in Me)
  • Portuguese (Brazil): "O Assassino Dentro de Mim" (The Killer in Me)
  • Romanian: "Criminalul dinăuntru" (The Killer Inside)
  • Russian: "Убийца внутри меня" (The Killer Inside Me)
  • Spanish (Latin America): "El Asesino que Hay Dentro de Mí" (The Killer in Me)
  • Spanish (Spain): "El asesino que llevo dentro" (The Killer in Me)
  • Swedish: "Mördaren inom mig" (The Murderer Inside Me)


  • The book Chosen: The One includes a novelization of this episode, along with all season 7.
  • David Solomon and Drew Z. Greenberg provided the audio commentaries for this episode.


Promotional stills[]

Behind the scenes[]



Andrew: "Wait— Where're you...?"
Xander: "The desert. We're gonna find Giles."
Andrew: "Oh, good. Let me just get some tapes for the car. I've been working on this mix—"
Xander: "You're not coming."
Andrew: "What? Why? 'Cause I used to be evil?"
Xander: "No, actually 'cause you're annoying, but that's a good reason, too."
Andrew: "Wait, I— Don't leave me here alone. I keep getting attacked in this house."
Dawn: "Actually, Xand..."
Andrew: "What if this is all part of the plan? Drive you guys away so it can have its way with me? Ever think of that?"
Xander: "I'll risk it."
Andrew: "OK. Well, if you leave me here alone, I'll do something evil, like burning something or gluing things together."
Anya: "For crying out loud, Harris, let's just take him. At least we can keep an eye on him."
Giles: "Now wait a minute, you think I'm evil if I bring a group of girls on a camping trip and don't touch them?"
Willow: "I'm Willow."
Xander: "Are you sure?"
Willow: "You know, there are other stories from kindergarten. Non-yellow crayon stories in which you don't come out in such a good light. An incident involving Aquaman Underoos, for example. Want me to start talkin'?"
Xander: "Hey, Willow!"
Giles: "Do you think they appreciate the gravity of what we're undertaking? It's frightening, and it's difficult. And then, apparently, someone told them that the Vision Quest consists of me driving them to the desert, doing the hokey pokey until a spooky Rasta-mama Slayer arrives and speaks to them in riddles."
Buffy: "That's not exactly how I put it..."
Kennedy: "It was Gone with the Wind. I saw that, and I knew I wanted to sweep Scarlet off her feet."
Willow: "You were five."
Kennedy: "Well, I'm not saying the sweeping would have been easy... What?"
Willow: "I just — I still don't get it. Why you like me. I mean, you don't even know me."
Kennedy: "Have you seen you?"


  1. "Season 7." Craig's BuffyVERSE 4ever. Retrieved on March 15, 2022.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Drew Z. Greenberg and David Solomon. The Complete Seventh Season on DVD: audio commentaries for "The Killer in Me." 20th Century Studios, November 16, 2004.
  3. Ken P., "An Interview with Joss Whedon". IGN, June 23, 2003.
  4. "Twice as dicey." BBC, 2003.
  5. "Nielsen Ratings for Buffy's Seventh Season." Nielsen Ratings for Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, & Firefly. Archived from the original on July 19, 2008.
  6. "Buffy - The Killer in Me." Buffy World. Archived from the original on March 15, 2022.