Casa Summers. Dawn is down with the computer research. Buffy gets up from the table all agitated, and Xander follows her. Buffy burbles that she needs to take some action. They're called away from their discussion by Dawn, who has found Gnarl -- a demon who secretes a paralyzing compound from his fingernails and then peels and eats the skin from his immobile victims. Gah. The flesh-peeling and eating would be yucky enough, but the whole fingernail detail sends it totally over the edge into stomach-turning. Because of the eating aspect of this cheery, hours-long process, Dawn calls him a parasite. Too bad he came five seasons too late. I think Gnarl would have been very happy with those husks of skin the swim team left behind when they mutated into sea monsters. Or maybe he doesn't like take-out. Buffy expresses doubt that this is the right demon, but Dawn proudly reminds Buffy that there was no pool of blood around the victim, and since Gnarl likes a little drink to wash down his skin, it has to be a match. I still say they came up with the concept for this demon during a late-night brainstorming session at KFC. I can just see Jane E. getting all grossed out by Fury eating the skin off of his breast and thigh meal and just leaving the rest. Xander tells Dawn that she's "terrifying," and then suggests that they could ask around at Willie's. "Or we could be smart," counters Buffy, saying that whoever is responsible for this grisly deed must have left traces of blood. Certainly enough of a trail to track if you have the right equipment.
Cut to the woods, where Buffy has checked Sunnydale High's blood tracking equipment out and is busy putting it to good use. Spike strides through the woods, a babbling brook of insanity. Xander, Buffy, and Dawn trail behind at some distance. A possibly out-of-breath Xander mumbles that they should have leashed Spike. Buffy is all, "Yes, let's tie ourselves to the crazy vampire." Dawn starts geeking out over the prospect of putting together a detailed demon database, but then loses all her feminist cred by admitting that it will also allow her to wear more high heels. How? I don't know. This, like the Xander bragging about saving the world all summer, was apparently just another in-joke. There's a third one, but I can't for the life of me remember what it is. Xander runs smack into Spike, who is now standing stock still and looking intently at something in the distance. "That's it. End of the line. Everyone off." Spike turns and leans in to whisper emphatically to Xander, "Keep your ticket -- you'll need that." Buffy is unimpressed with the "rock cliff" that Spike has led them too. "Rock cliff"? What are cliffs usually made of in the Buffyverse -- Nutter Butters? Xander mocks, "Maybe it's a vicious skin-eating rock cliff." Spike, momentarily lucid, gives him a "I know you work in construction, but how much of a tool are you?" look as he moves back the branches of the bush to reveal a small cave entrance in the cliff.