The Witch Episode Summary Originally posted on www.buffy.com
Buffy, in an attempt to bring some normalcy into her complicated life, decides to try out for cheerleader. When she goes to the big tryout, she meets a quiet girl named Amy. As one girl auditions, she gets more and more into her routine, and suddenly her hands begin to smoke. Buffy knocks her to the ground and puts the girl's smoking hands out. Amy tells Buffy that her mother was a cheerleading star and she feels pressure to make the squad. When Amy leaves, Willow says it's a lot more than pressure -- she thinks Amy's mom is a tyrant. Neither Amy nor Buffy is chosen as part of the regular squad -- both are alternates. Amy is distraught when she is only chosen to be third alternate -- with Buffy as first alternate.
In a spooky attic with a cauldron, someone is casting spells with dolls. The next day, snooty Cordelia Chase, who has made cheerleader, is temporarily blinded while taking her driving test. Giles thinks Amy's a witch, but the only way to prove it is to form a potion and pour it on her -- if her skin turns blue, she is a witch. Buffy, Xander and Willow join forces to test this theory in chemistry class, and Giles is proven correct. Then another cheerleader has a mysterious accident, and when Amy reacts to it with horror, it makes Buffy doubt whether Amy realizes what she's doing. Amy comes home in a huff to find her mother on the couch watching TV. She tells her mother to write her history report. We see that Amy is holding an ID bracelet which Xander gave Buffy for good luck at the cheerleading tryouts -- Buffy will be Amy's next victim.
As first alternate, Buffy is now on the cheerleading squad, and starts acting strangely during practice. When she tosses another cheerleader across the room, it's time for the next alternate to come in -- Amy. Buffy suddenly becomes weak, and Giles says the only way to keep her from dying is to get Amy's spell book. Willow and Xander stay at school to keep an eye on Amy. Giles and Buffy force their way into Amy's house, and Buffy discovers that the woman they're speaking to is not really Amy's mother but Amy herself. The mother switched their bodies so she could relive her glory days as a cheerleader. Giles finds the spell book, and they all troop off to school, where "Amy" is getting ready to cheer. As Giles chants, "Amy" becomes weaker as the transformation begins. "Amy" charges out of the gym to find Buffy and kill her. Just as she’s about to get her, the transformation is complete. "Amy" is now the real Amy, and the mother goes berserk. She starts to cast an evil spell on Buffy, but Buffy deflects it with a mirror and sends it back to the mother, who disappears. Everything seems to be back to normal, until we catch a glimpse of the mother's cheerleader trophy in a school display case. Its eyes are moving...
- The whiteboard in the first tryout scene reads "1996 Cheerleading Tryouts." This, put together with the fact that it's the high school basketball season, would seem to imply that the action of the series is taking place in early 1996... a full year earlier than the show's actual airing.
- Amy's mom's trophy has her name on it as "Catherine Madison," which seems to convince Buffy that it's really Amy's mom, implying that Amy's last name is Madison. This is further borne out by Giles, who addresses Amy's mother as "Mrs. Madison." But Amy says that her parents got married right after high school graduation, which means that when her mother won the cheerleading trophy she would still have gone by her maiden name.
- After Catherine Madison is defeated, Giles says, "It was my first casting," but that is later proven to be a false statement by the events of "The Dark Age."
- Continuity: Cordelia gets out of the Driver's Ed car and shuts the door. In the next scene, the door is open, and when the truck hits it, it slams the door shut, although the door was, as far as we have seen, already shut.
- Continuity: While Buffy, Willow and Xander are in the lab making the witch revealing potion, Willow pours the finalized mixture into a test tube and fills the tube to the top. When Buffy takes the tube, it is barely a 1/4 full.
- This episode was released on 20th Century Fox Home Video on September 15, 1998, as part of the first Buffy the Vampire Slayer Box Set.
- Buffy's mother says that Buffy "stopped cheerleading just before the trouble," another reference to their life in L.A. which seems to correlate to events in Buffy the motion picture.
- Willow's comment, "Yeah, you're the Slayer, we're, like, the Slayerettes," has led to fans and writers of Buffy fan fiction consistently referring to Buffy's sidekicks as Slayerettes, although the term wasn't repeated again on the show until "The I in Team" in season four.
- Buffy's mother owns an art gallery.
- In the scene where Willow uncovers Xander's embarrassing reading habits, we learn that his full name is Alexander Harris.
- Giles' aging Citroën makes its first appearance in this episode.
- The trophy, with Amy's mom trapped in it, makes a return appearance in the second season episode "Phases," in preparation for the return of Elizabeth Anne Allen as Amy in the following episode, "Bewitched, Bothered & Bewildered."
- William Monaghan would return to play a pivotal role as kindly biology teacher Dr. Gregory in the next episode, "Teacher's Pet."
- Jim Doughan, who appears in this episode as driver's ed teacher Mr. Pole, had a small role as a party guest in the 1988 film My Stepmother Is An Alien, which featured both Alyson Hannigan and Seth Green.
- Joss planed his episodes seasons in advance and there is a possible allusion to Spike in this episode. Xander says "drive it through my head like a railroad spike" which is how Spike killed the people who mocked his poetry
- Cordelia mentions another Cheerleader-wannabe, Amber, in the episode. Amy comments that Amber was trained by Benson. Amber Benson will later star in the show as Tara.