Since this was the Thanksgiving episode, I'll give thanks to Sep, Kitsune, Hula Girl, and JWG for their vacation hospitality; to little Frances for not being lost; and to Sars and Wing for giving me this fun opportunity.
Previously on Buffy: Riley tells Willow he wants to "court" Buffy; Riley makes a chump of himself in front of Buffy; Spike returns to town and gets caught by the Initiative; Riley confirms that Dr. Hardass's implant has rendered Spike incapable of harming any living creature; Spike can't get a fang-on with Willow; Buffy tells Riley that he's peculiar.
We see a young college student walking through the woods. He's obviously been watching a whole lot of TV commercials, since he's wearing a vest and cargo pants. He seems to notice that he's being followed and then Buffy appears right behind him. She smacks him in the face and he attempts to play innocent college boy, but then vamps out. He and Buffy engage in fisticuffs, and he tells Buffy that things were better before she came to campus. For some reason, his voice is much deeper and electronically altered in his vamp state. Buffy stakes him. What is the purpose of this scene? I don't know. Buffy then looks curiously around her, as if she senses another presence. The camera pans into the bushes, where we see Angel lurking and looking befuddled as always. Couldn't he just stay on his own show?
Establishing shot of UC Sunnydale, with Dean Guerrero presiding over a groundbreaking ceremony. He turns the podium over to Dr. Gerhardt, a young redheaded professor of anthropology. She establishes that UC Sunnydale is going to be building a new cultural center. We see Anya, Buffy, and Willow standing under a tree nearby. What can I even say about the outfits these three are wearing? The horror still lingers. When I close my eyes, I can still see nightmarish visions of Anya's patchwork pants and vest, Buffy's cowboy hat with gingham shirt, and Willow's horrible sack outfit with peasant blouse and polyester skirt. "Look at him. Have you ever seen anything so masculine?" drools Anya. Buffy looks confused and inquires as to whether Anya means the Dean or his wife. Willow laughs and indicates Xander, who is standing with the construction crew, wearing a tank top and hard-hat. I realize he'd actually been in the background of other shots during this scene and I hadn't recognized his new beefy physique. Buffy jokes that Xander isn't "at all Village People" and Anya continues to salivate over him. She strays into the area of way too much information when she tells Buffy and Willow that she's imagining having sex with Xander right then. Dr. Gerhardt continues her speech and talks about Thanksgiving as a melting-pot that celebrates making our culture stronger. "What a load of horse hooey!" exclaims Willow. Buffy asks her to explain her comment, and Willow righteously lectures her that the Pilgrims wiped out the Indians. She does admit that her strong opinions come from her mother, but that she agrees with them and understands why her mother doesn't celebrate Thanksgiving or Columbus Day. Buffy then says that Joyce is visiting "Aunt Darlene" for Thanksgiving, thus explaining why her mother will be absent from yet another episode, and Anya refers to the Thanksgiving turkey as a ritual sacrifice while we see Xander posturing with his shovel in the background. When Buffy exclaims that Thanksgiving doesn't include ritual sacrifice, Anya says, "To commemorate a past event, you kill and eat an animal. It's a ritual sacrifice -- with pie." Dr. Gerhardt finishes her long and boring speech and picks up a shovel. Anya is outraged that Dr. Gerhardt is usurping Xander's digging role. Anya really wants to see Xander dig. The crowd applauds and rises to leave and Xander finally begins digging. Anya is delirious with joy and exclaims that she is thinking about having sex with him again. "Imaginary Xander is quite the machine," quips Buffy. Xander throws one more shovelful of dirt and suddenly falls through the ground.