BtvS 3.04

© Text and musical examples: Rob Gokee

Promotional CD tracks

Sadly, once again there are none. This episode had no clearly defined themes, and many of the cues were very soft and atmospheric, making them harder to separate from the onscreen action.

The episode

As Buffy tries to distance herself from the now healing Angel, she is unceremoniously dumped by Scott Hope right before the homecoming dance. While lamenting about her lack of popularity, she decides to run against Cordelia for Homecoming Queen. Meanwhile, Mr. Trick has organized Slayerfest '98, a contest for cash to see which bounty hunter can kill the slayers first. While they demons and humans track and gather information on Buffy and Faith, Xander and Willow have their first kiss and Buffy and Cordelia campaign and fight, until they end up in a limo together to sort out their differences. Unfortunately, the limo is a setup and takes them into the woods, where both girls must outwit the hunters and make it back to the school in time to both lose the crown.

Fun quotation:
Oz: "As Willow goes, so does my nation."
Giles: "I suspect the finger food contains actual fingers."

The music

With about 20 minutes of scoring, this episode relies very much on setting the atmosphere over designing themes. A lot of Chris' work lies beneath the vocals so low that they become part of the background instead of creating it. There are a couple of examples of repeated motifs, and they are explored in the cue notes below.

Cue notes

All timings are approximate.


"Fell into Loneliness" by Lory Carson plays at the Bronze while the scoobies chat about the dance.]


Strings playing very softly at Buffy's entrance into the mansion to see Angel, accompanied by light percussion. It comes off very low and minor sounding, and the same theme plays under their discussion. It is once again a 4 note phrase, rising and falling in 6th's. There is a slight change as a flue enters at the mention of Scott's name, and the theme morphs slightly to brass as Buffy talks of Scott being someone to "…count on."


The theme I've dubbed "Homecoming Theme" [Ex.1] is played under Buffy right after being dumped by Scott, as she is singled out in the frame, alone. It quickly changes to a synth cue as we meet the German twins monitoring her from a van across the street. This reoccurs every time the twins are onscreen; I believe signifying their modern approach to hunting versus everyone else's. It is string heavy and reminiscent of Robert Kral's work on Angel.


No one breaks the mood quite like Nerf Herder]


Low, atmospheric strings as we see Mayor Wilkins for the first time in his office. The cue shows up whenever we are shown the well-hidden dark side of the mayor.


For example, as the mayor obsesses over Alan's hands; we hear the strings once again, which work well at adding the creep factor to the mayor's persona. This cue jumps right to the next one…


"Jodi Foster" by The Pinehurst Kids]


The "Homecoming Theme" shows up again as "mopey" Buffy laments her misfortune at being unpopular (this is a lot of disbelief to suspend!). It is very short, and used to set the mood for the scene, with great success.


On Cordy's insult and dare, we hear marching percussion and brass as Buffy announces her campaign for queen. This effective cue moves us into the next scene with Mr. Trick giving his inspirational speech.


We are treated to militaristic brass as Trick discusses Slayerfest '98 and get the troops riled up and ready to kill, signifying the end of act 1.


"How" by Lisa Loeb (Xander and Willow's first kiss, long overdue in my opinion. I would have loved a Xander Willow Theme by Chris instead, to tie us over into the upcoming episodes and their relationship).]


"Homecoming Theme" again, this time with woodwinds as Buffy is once again alone. The short phrase is used each time Buffy is by herself and feeling small in the episode.


"Fastball" by Fire Escape]


More synth and strings as Buffy is watched once again by the twins.


Soft strings under Willow and Xander talking about their bad timing, moving us to Buffy being picked up by the ill-fated limo.


The synth comes back as the Germans take the girls by limo into the woods. Grand strings and brass come in as the girls realize they were set up, and we end with an exciting flourish as they are shot at and we hit the commercial break for act 2.


"She Knows" by Four Star Mary]


Jump back to the woods with racing brass and percussion as Buffy and Cordy try to survive the contest.


"She Knows" by Four Star Mary continues]


Right back where we left off, the action cue continues as the girls hide in the cabin. Chris uses brass and a hint of glockenspiel, switching to soft strings as Buffy outlines a plan. The cue becomes low and synth-like as we move to Giles in the office…


…and picks back up right after he hears the message from Buffy on the machine. There is a brief entrance of the "Homecoming Theme" as Buffy complains to Cordy about being unpopular.


The brass and percussion continues as Buffy and Cordy fight the spiny demon, and tremolo strings kick in as the missile lands on the cabin floor. The cue speeds up as the girls race away, the cabin blowing up behind them. The cue winds down with synth sounds as we move to a (yet again) unconscious Giles in the library, hanging out with Lyle Gorch as act 3 ends.


The synth theme associated with the Germans reemerges as they zero in on Buffy and Cordy, and Trick is grabbed by the mayor's hired goons.


A quick action cue as Buffy fights the Gorches, although it's Cordy that scares him off, and we get a bold brass ending on her victory.


German Theme again as Buffy realizes they are being tracked in the school. The theme continues over the gunfire as the two men kill each other in overconfidence, showing that technology is not always failsafe.


Low brass at the mayor's ominous offer to Mr. Trick, foreshadowing Wilkins' season-long plan.


High strings at the announcement of Homecoming Queen, and cheesy winner music as Buffy and Cordy walk away in disgust.


Nerf Herder takes the real crown]

Musical examples

Ex.1 [midi]; also extended soundclip [mp3] beginning with the theme, ca.04'33