Earshot (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)

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Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode
Episode no. Season 3
Episode 18
Directed by Regis Kimble
Written by Jane Espenson
Production code 3ABB18
Original air date September 21, 1999
Guest appearance(s)
Episode chronology
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"Earshot" is the eighteenth episode of the third season of the television show Buffy the Vampire Slayer. It was written by Jane Espenson, directed by Regis Kimble, and first broadcast, out of sequence, on September 21, 1999. The originally scheduled broadcast was postponed following the Columbine High School massacre on April 20, 1999.


On patrol, Buffy runs into two mouthless demons and succeeds in killing one, but some of its blood is absorbed through her skin. When her hand starts itching, Giles explains that she may be infected with an aspect of the demon. Buffy worries about what aspect she will be getting and is horrified when Willow wonders if the demon was male.

The next day, as she is walking through the halls, Buffy finds that she can hear the thoughts of others. In class, she answers the teacher's questions by listening to the thoughts of her classmates. She also hears the thoughts of Freddy Iverson, who writes editorials for the school newspaper and who has a negative opinion about everything at Sunnydale.

Later that day, Buffy goes to the mansion to use her mind-reading abilities to check up on Angel and find out the truth about what happened between him and Faith. He informs her that she can no more read his mind than see his image in a mirror. He tells her that what happened with Faith meant nothing and that in 243 years, he has loved only Buffy.

At the library, Buffy tells her friends about her ability to read minds. She learns that Xander constantly thinks about sex, Cordelia says almost exactly what she thinks, Oz thinks extremely deep thoughts, Willow thinks about how she is left out of things, and Wesley thinks about Cordelia romantically but reprimands himself for having amorous feelings for an underage girl.

In the lunchroom, Buffy hears that someone is planning to kill all the students. She tells everyone to get organized and find out who the potential killer is. Buffy goes home to rest while Willow and the others go around interviewing students and faculty.

Angel hunts down the surviving demon and brings its heart in a glass mixed with other ingredients, after Buffy finds the effects of mind-reading to be stressful and distracting. He forces Buffy to drink it and she goes into convulsions. When she wakes up, she is no longer able to hear thoughts.

Willow and the rest of the Scooby Gang locate all the students on the list except Freddy Iverson, so they all go looking for him. They finally corner Freddy in his office and learn that he is not the potential killer. They find a letter from Jonathan apologizing for his upcoming actions. The gang finds Jonathan in the clock tower, assembling a rifle. Buffy takes it from him, and then discovers that he was planning to kill only himself. Xander checks the kitchen and stumbles upon a lunch lady putting rat poison into the food. She tries to kill him with a cleaver, but Buffy knocks her unconscious.

Giles and Buffy recap what happened as they walk in the school grounds. Buffy tells Giles that she now knows he had sex with her mother; Giles walks into a tree.


In her commentary on the DVD, writer Jane Espenson reveals that when she found out that she was going to write this episode she knew that she wanted the student in the tower to be Jonathan. Even though Danny Strong had only had small, comedic parts on the series over the years, she had faith that he would be able to handle the dramatic scene.[1] Espenson also mentions in her commentary that she included the exchange in which Buffy discovers that her mother slept with Giles in "Band Candy" because she was surprised that fans were not sure that they had had sex and she wanted to eliminate any doubts.[1] James South wrote that Oz's thoughts, overheard by Buffy, "I am my thoughts... if they exist in her, Buffy contains everything that is me, and she becomes me. I cease to exist." is a reference to the philosopher Descartes.[2]

Giles walking right into a tree after Buffy told him she knew he slept with her mother was Anthony Head's idea, although he did not expect that Joss Whedon would actually let him do it.[3]


The Columbine High School massacre occurred one week before the episode was originally scheduled to air. Because it included a scene with a student loading a rifle – apparently for mass murder, but in reality for suicide – the WB substituted a rerun of "Bad Girls". The episode was delayed until September 1999, two weeks prior to the season four premiere. The season finale was also delayed due to "school violence concerns".[4][5]


Noel Murray of The A.V. Club criticized the portrayal of telepathy in the episode, and generally on T.V. and film, but praised the humorous and poignant insights it gave into what Buffy's friends were thinking.[6] A review for the BBC praised the concept of Buffy the mind reader, but was less impressed by the plot's more routine group investigation.[7]


  1. ^ a b Writer Jane Espenson's audio commentary for the episode on the season 3 DVD.
  2. ^ James South (August 21, 2013). Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Philosophy: Fear and Trembling in Sunnydale. Open Court. pp. 227–. ISBN 978-0-8126-9747-6.
  3. ^ TV.com Archived 2010-01-16 at the Wayback Machine Episode Guide, Season 3 Episode 18, "Earshot" Trivia & Quotes.
  4. ^ "School Daze". Entertainment Weekly. May 25, 1999. Retrieved August 3, 2010.
  5. ^ ""Buffy" Slayed by School Massacre". E! Online. April 23, 1999. Retrieved June 9, 2011.
  6. ^ "Buffy The Vampire Slayer: "Doppelgangland" / "Enemies" / "Earshot"". Retrieved November 6, 2016.
  7. ^ "Episode Guide - "Earshot"". BBC. Retrieved November 6, 2016.

External links

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