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Helpless (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)

"Helpless" is the twelfth episode of season three of the television show Buffy the Vampire Slayer. It was written by David Fury, directed by James A. Contner, and first broadcast on January 19, 1999.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode
Episode no.Season 3
Episode 12
Directed byJames A. Contner
Written byDavid Fury
Production code3ABB12
Original air dateJanuary 19, 1999
Guest appearance(s)
Episode chronology
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In the library, Giles shows Buffy a variety of crystals, ostensibly to teach her how to identify them. Later, on patrol, Buffy's strength suddenly deserts her and she is nearly killed by a vampire. Buffy reports the problem to Giles and demonstrates her poor performance when throwing knives at a target. At home, Buffy is disappointed to find that her father is too busy to take her to the ice show for her 18th birthday; she suggests to Giles that he could take her instead. Giles has Buffy stare at a crystal until she falls into a trance, then injects her with a mysterious substance. Meanwhile, Quentin Travers, the head watcher, sets up an extreme test for the slayer, assisted by two men named Hobson and Blair.

Buffy tries to intervene when Cordelia's argument with an aggressive suitor becomes physical, but she is casually knocked aside. Buffy enlists the help of her friends to figure out what is wrong. She visits Angel who gives her a book for her birthday. He tells her about how he saw her before she was the slayer and how he loved her from the second he first saw her. Kralik, the captive vampire intended for Buffy's test, breaks out of his straitjacket while Blair is giving him his pills. He turns Blair into a vampire.

Giles goes to find Quentin at the Sunnydale Arms building, but discovers that Kralik is missing and Hobson dead. Buffy, walking home alone, is confronted by Kralik. Blair chases her until Giles drives by and picks her up. At the Summers' home, Joyce hears a noise out front where she finds Kralik wrapped up in Buffy's jacket. Giles tells Buffy that she has lost her strength due to the injections of muscle relaxant and adrenaline suppressors he had given her, and about the test. Furious, Buffy returns home where she finds a picture of her mother bound to a chair and gagged by Kralik.

Buffy goes to the Sunnydale Arms building, beats Blair unconscious and then is chased by Kralik until his need for pills becomes unbearable. Buffy steals them away, and slides down a laundry chute where she finds her mother. Kralik breaks through the door and grabs his pills back, washing them down with a nearby glass of water. Buffy had filled the glass with holy water, causing Kralik to burn from within. Buffy frees her mother as Giles arrives and stakes Blair.

Back at the library, Quentin congratulates Buffy on her accomplishment, but Buffy is also angry with him. Quentin tells Giles that he is fired because his relationship with the slayer is more that of a father than a watcher. He tells Buffy that a new watcher will be assigned to her and warns Giles not to interfere before leaving. Buffy allows Giles to tend her wounds.

Giles is fired, but he is still the school librarian and willing to help Buffy as a freelancer. Buffy is still without her strength and tried to open a jar in her kitchen. Xander tried to open it and ask Willow to help him out.

Production detailsEdit

The story had the working title "Eighteen" as it is set around Buffy's eighteenth birthday.[1]


A reviewer for the BBC wrote that the slayer test made no sense and that "Helpless" would have been better if Faith, the second slayer, were also present. The review said the betrayal of Buffy by Giles, and the strains on their growing father-daughter relationship, was "heart-wrenching".[2] Noel Murray of The A.V. Club described the episode as "one of the most overtly horrific, with creepy dark houses and blood-spattered rooms".[3]


  1. ^ Writer David Fury's commentary for the episode on the season 3 DVD
  2. ^ "Episode Guide — Helpless". Retrieved October 6, 2016.
  3. ^ "Buffy The Vampire Slayer: "Amends" / "Gingerbread" / "Helpless"". Retrieved October 6, 2016.

External linksEdit