"I laugh in the face of danger - then I hide until it goes away."
Xander Harris
Series Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Season 1, Episode 3
Buffy Episode 1x03 001.jpg
Air date March 17th, 1997
Writers Dana Reston
Director Stephen Cragg
Producers Joss Whedon; Gail Berman; Sandy Gallin; Fran Rubel Kuzui; Kaz Kuzui; David Greenwalt; Gareth Davies; David Solomon; Joseph M. Ellis
Starring Sarah Michelle Gellar; Nicholas Brendon; Charisma Carpenter; Alyson Hannigan; Anthony Stewart Head
Episode guide
"The Harvest"
"Teacher's Pet"

"Witch" is the third episode of season one of the television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The episode was directed by Stephen Cragg and written by Dana Reston. It first aired on the WB Network on March 17th, 1997. In this episode, Buffy tries out for the high school cheerleading team, much to Mister Giles' lament. A classmate named Amy Madison will do anything to make it on the team, but trouble abounds when mysterious things begin happening to the other cheerleaders. One girl spontaneously combusts and Cordelia is rendered blind. Buffy begins suspecting witchcraft, but when she falls under the witch's spell, it is up to Giles and the Scoobies to save her and set everything right.

Synopsis[edit | edit source]

Buffy wants to join a "cult".

Buffy Summers decides to try out for Sunnydale High's cheerleading team. Giles is less than enthusiastic about her decision, fearing that joining this "cult" will take time away from her Slayer duties. Buffy insists that she needs to have a life outside of being a Slayer. During try outs, Buffy, Xander and Willow watch a girl named Amber Grove perform a routine. They meet another girl named Amy Madison. Amy tells Buffy how much she wants to be on the cheerleading team and mentions how she trains with her mother three hours a day. Midway Amber's routine, her hands spontaneously catch on fire and the flames begin crawling up her arms. Buffy grabs a flag and tackles the girl, dousing the flames.

Buffy and the others regroup in the library to discuss the matter. They begin researching cases of spontaneous combustion, but find little that has any supernatural connections. Willow decides to put her computer hacking skills to use to find out more. Buffy returns home and talks with her mom who is busy uncrating some new materials for her gallery. She tries to bond with her, but Joyce is too wrapped up in her work to give Buffy any due attention.

The next day, several students try out for the cheerleading team again. Amy Madison proves to be rather clumsy and falls, knocking over Cordelia. Cordelia is outraged and warns her against threatening her chances of making the team. Buffy and Amy leave the gym and go to a trophy case out in the school commons. She shows Buffy a photograph of her mother Catherine from many years ago. Amy's mother was the tri-county cheerleading champion and Amy's personal hero. Looking at her photograph only depresses her even further. She goes to the locker room to change and runs into Cordelia who stresses the notion that there will be severe ramifications if Amy's "klutziness" costs her a spot on the team.

Later in the quad, a crowd of students gather around a bulletin board announcing who made the team. Xander pushes through to see the results and tells Buffy and Amy that they were selected as alternates only. Amy is crushed and runs off.

Somewhere in a darkened room, a robed figure hovers above a cauldron of bubbling, green liquid. She takes a doll dressed as a cheerleader and begins speaking an incantation. Whispering the words "Cordelia... feed on her", the witch drops the doll into the cauldron.

In the school hallway, Xander and Willow notice Cordelia walking by in a daze. Feeling as if she is just ignoring them as she usually does, they dismiss her odd behavior. Xander tells Willow about how much he likes Buffy, but he is nervous about asking her out on a date. Willow tells him that he should stop beating around the bush and just ask her, and this gives Xander a bit of encouragement. Buffy approaches and Xander is prepared to ask her out, but she is distracted when she sees Cordelia acting so strangely. She cuts him off and goes to follow Cordelia.

Cordy is struck blind.

Cordelia wanders out to the parking lot where she meets Mister Pole, her Driver's Ed teacher. Cordelia blankly states that she doesn't feel like driving today, but the teacher ushers her into the driver's seat of the car. She begins driving, but something goes wrong and she begins swerving the vehicle erratically. She brings the car to a stop right before Buffy who runs over to see what is the matter. As Cordelia looks up, she cries that she cannot see. Cataracts have formed over her eyes.

Buffy goes to the library and tells Giles, Xander and Willow about Cordelia. Giles immediately suspects witchcraft and they compare Cordelia's situation with that of Amber Grove. They theorize that someone is deliberately taking out members of the cheerleading team. Amy Madison becomes their prime suspect. Giles comes up with a method for identifying a witch, but it requires several ingredients including mercury, nitric acid, eye of newt and hair from the alleged witch. If the solution is applied to a witch that has cast a spell within the past forty-eight hours, her skin will turn blue.

During science class, the gang tries to gather the materials to mix the solution. Willow acquires the nitric acid and the Eye of Newt from a dissected frog while Buffy manages to pull some strands of hair from Amy's brush. They mix the solution together and Buffy pretends to accidentally spill it on Amy's arm. As predicted, the solution turns a part of her arm blue. Suddenly, another student named Lishanne Davis begins suffering from her own problems. As the others look towards her, they are startled to find that the young girl has no mouth.

Amy returns home and greets her mother. She tosses her backpack onto the floor and instructs the quiet woman to write her book report. She is fuming over what happened in science class and knows that Buffy is onto her. Having pick pocketed a charm bracelet that Xander had given to Buffy, Amy takes the possession upstairs. She uses it in a spell that makes Buffy appear to be intoxicated.

The next morning, Buffy awakens, unaware that she is now under a witch's spell. She is in good spirits and skips about the house singing "Macho Man". She goes to the kitchen where her mother is preparing juice. She acts as if she is slightly inebriated and blurts out that she is a vampire slayer. Her mother hears the comment, but doesn't understand what she means.

Buffy goes to school. Since Cordelia is unable to be on the squad, Buffy takes her place as a cheerleader. The spell increases in strength and Buffy acts exceedingly bubbly. During a routine however, she accidentally steps on Joy's foot. She then misgauges her enhanced strength and tosses another her clear across the room. Joy has had enough and boots Buffy from the team. Amy takes her place as the next alternate.

Xander and Willow pull Buffy out of the gym and she acts even more as if she in a drunken stupor. Through her ramblings, she lets on that she only thinks of Xander as a friend - a notion that quashes any hopes that she might ever date him. Buffy collapses onto the floor and they bring her to Giles. Giles identifies the spell that has been cast upon her and solemnly adds that the effect is fatal. The only way to reverse it is by finding a counter spell from the caster's spell book or by cutting off the witch's head. Buffy appears to be more sober, but is still very weak. Regardless, she accompanies Giles to Amy's house in the hopes of getting information from her mother.

Living the dream.

When they arrive they are greeted by Catherine Madison. Giles angrily accuses Catherine of driving her daughter to the dark arts due to her obsession. Buffy notices a plate of brownies on the floor and correctly deduces that it is not Amy who is the witch, but her mother. Catherine Madison switched minds with her daughter so she could relive her glory days. The woman they are speaking to now is actually Amy trapped in her mother's body. Amy explains how her mother is obsessed with youth and used her powers to switch their bodies several months ago. She brings them upstairs to her mother's casting room. Giles finds Catherine's spell book and Amy, Buffy and he return to the school's science lab.

While they set up the lab to prepare the counter spell, Catherine (in Amy's body) performs with the rest of the squad at a pep rally. She begins to feel the effects of Giles' incantation and knows that somebody is trying to reverse the spell. She leaves the pep rally and storms off down the hall. Willow and Xander try to stop her, but she uses her magic to choke Xander and punches Willow across the jaw. She takes an axe from a fire cabinet and breaks into the science lab. Giles completes the spell however and Amy and Catherine return to their proper bodies. Catherine, enraged, lashes out with her power, hurling Giles across the room.

Buffy gets up from the lab table, completely recovered. She battles Catherine who manages to keep her at bay with her power. She begins weaving a complex spell to finish Buffy off, but Buffy deflects the magic blast with a mirror, casting it back upon Catherine. She screams in agony and disappears in a flash of blinding light. To all accounts, Catherine Madison is dead.

The next day at school, Buffy meets with Amy who appears to be recovering well. She is living with her father now and couldn't be happier. Cordelia comes up to them, and has likewise recovered from the spell that rendered her blind. As they pass the trophy case in the commons, they fail to notice the animated eyes in Catherine Madison's bronze statue.

Cast[edit | edit source]

Starring[edit | edit source]

Guest Starring[edit | edit source]

Co-Starring[edit | edit source]

Notes & Trivia[edit | edit source]

  • First episode of the series not written by Joss Whedon.
  • First episode of the series that does not feature vampires.
  • The actress who plays Amber Grove is not credited in this episode.
  • The song that Buffy is singing in her kitchen at home is "Macho Man", recorded in 1978 by the Village People and appeared on their album Macho Man. This is the first indication that something is wrong with Buffy, as the character is too modern to ever be caught dead singing a 1970s disco song. While this may be the first time that Sarah Michelle Gellar is found singing in the series, it won't be her last. In the season six musical episode "Once More, With Feeling", Sarah sings two full songs, "Going Through the Motions" and "Something to Sing About", as well as an overture and part of an ensemble piece.
  • When Buffy discovers that Amy (actually Catherine) is a witch she says "She's our Sabrina", referring to the Sabrina, the Teenage Witch franchise. Coincidently, the actress who plays Catherine Madison played another witch in season one of the Sabrina television series.
  • During try outs, Cordelia says, "Just look at that Amber Grove. Who does she think she is, a Laker girl?" Ironically, actress Charisma Carpenter (who plays Cordelia) was a cheerleader for the San Diego Chargers.
  • Xander compares Amber's burning incident to the Human Torch. The Human Torch is a comic book character featured in The Fantastic Four published by Marvel Comics. He has the ability to ignite his entire body on fire, fly and project streams of flame.
  • After seeing her mother's fertility statue, Buffy exclaims "Jeepers". This was a line often used in the Hannah-Barbara Scooby-Doo cartoons. Through the course of the series, Buffy and her friends are often referred to as the "Scooby Gang". Actress Sarah Michelle Gellar also played the role of Daphne Blake in the live-action Scooby-Doo films.
  • Buffy refers to Catherine Madison as "Mommie Dearest". This was the title of a 1978 autobiography written by Christina Crawford, which detailed the abusive life she lived growing up in the shadow of her famous mother Joan Crawford.
  • Although Buffy blurts out that she is a vampire slayer to her mother, it will still be some time before Joyce learns the full truth about her daughter's calling.
  • During the cheerleader practice session, all of the cheerleader except for Buffy are wearing white sneakers. Buffy is wearing black sneakers.
  • The spell that Amy/Catherine casts on Buffy is called a Blood Stone Vengeance spell.

Quotes[edit | edit source]

  • Rupert Giles: What were you thinking? You are the Slayer. Lives depend upon you. I make allowances for your youth, but I expect a certain amount of responsibility, instead of which, you enslave yourself to this, this... cult?


  • Xander Harris: For I am Xander, King of cretins. May all lesser cretins bow before me.


  • Rupert Giles: That's the thrill of living at the Hellmouth. It’s a veritable cornucopia of fiends and devils and ghouls to be had. Pardon me for finding the glass half full.


  • Willow Rosenberg: That means hacking into the school's computer system. At last... something I can do.



  • Willow Rosenberg: When her mom would go on a broth kick, Amy would come over to my house and we'd stuff ourselves with brownies.


  • Cordelia Chase: We have to achieve our dreams, Amy. Otherwise we just... wither and die.


  • Buffy Summers: Mom, I've accepted that you've had sex. I am not ready to know that you had Farrah hair.


  • Buffy Summers: Have you seen the kids that do yearbook? Nerds pick on them.




  • Buffy Summers: You are not like other boys at all. You are totally and completely one of the girls.


  • Amy Madison: She said I was wasting my youth... so she took it.


  • Catherine Madison: I shall look upon my enemy. I shall look upon her and the dark place shall have her soul.

See also[edit | edit source]

External Links[edit | edit source]

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This article pertains to an episode from season 1 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. This template will categorize articles that include it into the Buffy the Vampire Slayer season 1 episodes category.
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