"I will be whole. I will be new," breathes a creepy voice as we see shots of a dancer warming up backstage. The camera pans past a juggler, a tuba player, a magician, and a gaunt young man with a ventriloquist's dummy sitting on his knee. The young man touches his forehead and looks disoriented. Perhaps he's disoriented by his dubious choice of "talent." Ecch, I hear a noise like forty cats being squeezed too hard around their middles. Turns out it's Cordelia singing "The Greatest Love of All." She carries on in an utterly tone-deaf manner as Giles, sitting in the nearly empty auditorium, looks horrified. And he's not the only one. Cordelia singing is the scariest part of this whole episode, and considering that the episode prominently features a ventriloquist's dummy, I think that's saying a lot. Giles cuts Cordelia off, and she's unhappy because she didn't do the "part with the sparklers," but he calls Lisa out anyway. Lisa sets up her music stand and begins to play her tuba. Willow, Xander, and Buffy trail into the auditorium, gleefully mocking Giles for his involvement in the school talent show. Apparently the school's new "Fuehrer" (Principal Snyder) assigned Giles to this choice duty, despite Giles explaining that his "vocational choice of librarian was a deliberate attempt to minimize" contact with students. Heh. Buffy snarks to Giles about his "destiny" and the gang agrees to "watch" and "mock" and "laugh" at the proceedings rather than helping. "I think we should leave Mr. Giles to this business he calls 'show,'" says Buffy as she starts to leave. But as she, Willow, and Xander leave, they run right into Principal Snyder, who has overheard their whole conversation. He's disapproving of them, calls them "antisocial types," and assigns them to participate in the talent show. Ah! A fate worse than death. As the gang protests, Snyder shuts them down, saying, "My predecessor, Mr. Flutie, may have gone in for all that touchy-feely relating nonsense, but he was eaten." I love Snyder. And how ironic that he too was eaten. I bet it's hard for principals of Sunnydale High to get adequate life insurance policies. Snyder leaves and the gang flops down into seats, groaning. The tuba player finally finishes her dirge-like tune and the guy with the ventriloquist's dummy is up next. Willow, in a shocking display of perversion, says, "I think dummies are cute." Yeah, we know, Willow. After all, you have a crush on Xander. Buffy replies that dummies have given her "the wig" since she was small. When Willow inquires, "What happened?" Buffy replies, "I saw a dummy. It gave me the wig. There really wasn't a story there." Ah, classic Buffy quotage. How it makes my day seem just a little bit brighter. The guy on stage introduces himself as Morgan and then adds, "And I'm Sid," as he manipulates the dummy's mouth. Morgan is not succeeding in throwing his voice in any way, as his mouth moves quite obviously when he says this. Giles slowly shuts his eyes in pain. Morgan puts Sid through a few awful jokes as the Scooby gang looks on, grimacing. Suddenly, in a very different voice and without Morgan's lips moving, Sid the dummy says, "All right, time out." Morgan looks shocked as the dummy mocks him, and tells him not to ruin the act. Sid cracks an edible jockey shorts joke, and the surrounding students laugh; Morgan looks gratified. Giles tells the gang he's sure they can come up with something "equally exciting" (why would you even wish such a fate on yourself, Giles?), and onstage the dummy's eyebrows waggle.
In the dressing room, the dancer pulls on her sweater and closes her locker. She hears a door open and checks between the rows of lockers, calling out, "Hello?" A black-and-white camera shot stalks her ankles and she turns and screams. The creepy voice from the start of the episode growls, "I will be flesh!" I submit that you are flesh already, Creepy Voice, since you seem to have a larynx to speak with, but who am I to quibble?