BtvS 3.10

© Text and musical examples: Rob Gokee

Promotional CD tracks

OK, I lied. Last review I told you the next three episodes had three each of the promotional tracks in them. "Gingerbread" is the exception. Most of the cues in the episode tended to be longer than normal, and its possible they couldn't be scaled down to fit the constraints of the promo disc.

The episode

While on patrol with Buffy, Joyce comes across two dead children in the park. Her overreaction goes from a coordinated meeting at city hall to the confiscation of books and locker searches at Sunnydale. Buffy tries to reign in her mom while looking for clues, which point to Willow and her expanding "dabbling" in witchcraft. Joyce forms MOO (Mothers Opposed to the Occult) and they focus their accusations at the Wicca community, more specifically Willow and Amy. Willow's mom, onscreen for the first time, decides a proper punishment for her daughter should include being burned at the stake, and Joyce readily agrees to include her own daughter as well. Giles realizes that the dead children are not real; they are in fact a demon in disguise that uses the chaos it creates to destroy a town from within. Giles and Cordy arrive just in time to save Buffy and Willow (Amy has turned herself into a rat to escape), and Buffy disposes of the demon in quick order.

Fun quotation:
Willow: "Makes me grateful that my mom's not interested in my extracurricular activities. Or, my curricular activities."

The music

Much of this episode is shrouded in silence, due in part to the subject matter. The viewer is forced to uncomfortably deal with the death of two small children in the same way as the characters, with no soundtrack to guide and sooth them. There is a complete absence of pop music, and Beck keeps his score in under 18 minutes. There is one theme that surfaces repeatedly (see cue notes below), but no continuation of previous themes. String-heavy, the cues continue the big screen quality of "The Wish" and "Amends," making the episode, in my opinion, much more complete than the story alone would suggest.

Cue notes

All timings are approximate and originate from the region 1 NTSC DVD.


Strings and sound effects play under Buffy in the cemetery, which pause as she is surprised by…her mom?


Strings pick up again, played rapidly as Buffy fights the newly risen bank manager, and they become soft as Joyce moves around the playground and discovers the dead children, we end the cue with mellow brass that sweeps upward as the teaser fades out.


Nerf Herder, the mood-breaking machine]


Brass and percussion open the act as the Sunnydale police (aka Keystone Cops) investigate the murders. This is the first time we hear the "Gingerbread Theme" [Ex.1]. It transforms into woodwinds as Buffy attempts to console Joyce and we end with strings.


The "Gingerbread Theme" continues, playing under Joyce as she channels Tony Robbins and gives the parents of Sunnydale a pep talk. At the end of the speech we are treated to a segue from strings to loose piano, lightly sprinkled, that move us to double bass as we circle around Amy, Michael and Willow performing a spell. A brass/ percussion crescendo takes us out of act two.


Sound effects and tremolo strings play as Buffy confronts Willow, switching to synth and effects as Snyder commences the locker search. Brass sneaks in as Willow realizes she is going to be taken away, and we get a brief repeat of the "Gingerbread Theme" once again. It takes us to the library, where a militaristic beat and brass chronicle the confiscation of Giles' books.


Short transitional cue moving us to Willow's home, using double bass.


As the "dead" children speak to Joyce and manipulate her, we hear eerie piano and classic Chris Beck brass upswing as the short cue takes us out of act two.


Strings open the act, playing the "Gingerbread Theme" as Buffy and Angel meet in the park. It fades out as their conversation begins.


As Angel tells Buffy to "keep fighting," piano and strings play a beautiful melody and Buffy has her "Ah ha" moment. The cue moves us to Giles yelling at the computer in the library.


Willow in her room, nice stattaco strings that continue to repeat (with occasional percussion) as she helps the scoobies unravel the mystery via cyberspace.


Quick brass as we move from Willow to the gang at the library.


Percussion and strings as Willows mom locks her in her room to await the mob coming to claim her. This is the sixth shirt cue used to get us from one place to another, or in this case to heighten the drama. Chris is very effective at composing these; he always seems to make them seem fresh over and over again, despite having similar structure.


Intense synth and Buffy and Giles are taken, switching to harp-like "fairy tale" music playing as the children tell Joyce to kill Buffy. Brass and percussion move upward and take us out of the suspenseful scene and act three.


Strings and brass as the witch burning begins. This is the beginning of the big action cue of the episode, although it stops briefly as we switch to Cordy slapping Giles into consciousness.


The cue picks back up with brass as we go back and forth from the burning to Xander and Oz trying to get to the girls. Brass signifies the lighting of the fire, and becomes louder as Amy turns herself into a rat. The cue switches to piano as we move to Giles and Cordy in the car, with appropriately placed strings playing under it. Brass and strings take over as Oz and Xander find an air vent leading to the girls, at which time we move back to the piano (loosely dubbed "Giles Theme") as Giles arrives and exposes the demon. Brass, strings, percussion and piano take us through the demons transformation, and tremolo strings appear as he charges at Buffy. The cue pauses for a moment, then returns only to quickly stop at the impalement of the demon by Buffy.


Double bass creeps in as Buffy and Willow attempt to change Amy back. Someone should have told them they have to wait until season six…


Nerf Herder closes it up]

Musical examples

Ex.1 [midi] "Gingerbread Theme". [mp3 clip from the scene]
Ex.1 Gingerbread Theme