While on the nightly patrol, Buffy not only encounters a vampire, but her mother looking for some quality time and a chance to "share" in the slaying experience. As Buffy kills the vampire, Joyce discovers the bodies of two children, dead in the park. The police arrive and after some questioning Buffy and Joyce are free to leave. Joyce is really disturbed by this.
At school the next day, Buffy confronts Giles about the situation, explaining that the situation is not one that should go unpunished. She draws him a symbol which was found on the hands of the two children. He says it's probably occult related and Buffy is dismissive, not quite believing that a human being could do this. Willow and Amy sit with Xander and Oz--who exchange a few awkward words--at lunch. Buffy joins them and fills them in on the murders. Joyce shows up at school and informs Buffy that she has spread the word about the murders to all her friends and that there will be a vigil at City Hall that night.
Many concerned parents attend the vigil, including Willow's mother, and Mayor Wilkins who says a few words before handing the mic over to Mrs. Summers. She gives a speech about how Sunnydale has got to take back their city from the monsters, and witches, and Slayers. Later, Michael, Amy, and Willow--three witches--are shown performing a spell in a circle that surrounds the symbol Buffy found on the children's hands. Michael is shoved up against his locker the next day by another student who threatens both him and Amy. Buffy makes a brief appearance and the "big, tough" guys go running. Cordelia, having witnessed the whole incident, comments to Buffy about involving oneself with losers. Buffy goes to Willow, who has a book Giles needs for researching the symbol.
However, when she finds the book, Buffy also finds the witch symbol in one of Willow's notebooks. Before Willow can explain, a search of all the school lockers begins in order to find any material that may be witch-related. Willow then tells Buffy that the symbol is harmless and that she was not doing anything wrong, just making a protection spell for Buffy's upcoming birthday. Amy and Willow are taken to Principal Snyder's office for questioning. Also, all of Giles' books are confiscated by the police which leaves the Slayer and Watcher without their resources.
Buffy goes home where she finds out her mom, the new founder of a group MOO--Mothers Opposed to the Occult--, does not want Buffy to see Willow anymore and is the one responsible for the locker searches. The two argue and then Buffy leaves for a pointless patrol, insulted by her mother who claims her Slaying is not doing Sunnydale any good. The ghosts of the two children appear to Joyce and tell her she has to hurt the "bad girls." Willow goes home where her mother calmly tells her she's grounded. Willow flips out, unable to control her anger towards the fact that her mother does not believe that she's a witch.
Buffy meets up with Angel at the park and they talk. He convinces her to keep fighting and to not give up. He also unintentionally gives her the idea that they do not know anything about the two kids. Buffy heads back to the library to find Giles yelling at a computer. Xander and Oz, who were unable to retrieve any books from City Hall, are also there. She asks Xander and Oz what the kid's names are, and neither are able to produce an answer... in fact, the only known fact about the kids is that they were found murdered, yet their pictures have been available for use in MOO's campaign. After hooking up with Willow over the net, the Scooby Gang find out that the two children died hundreds of years ago. They return every fifty years to persuade a town to kill the "bad girls" or as it seems, witches. They are an example that some fairy tales are true - in this case, Hansel and Gretel.
Amy, Willow, and Buffy are taken by force to City Hall where they are tied to wooden posts, atop a pile of books. Just as Buffy wakes up, her mother lights books on fire, sentencing the three girls to death by burning at the stake. Amy, however manages to cast her infamous "rat" spell and scurries away, avoiding death. Cordelia finds Giles unconscious at the Summers' home, wakes him and they rush to City Hall. Xander and Oz find Willow's room in a shambles.
On the way to City Hall, Giles practices an incantation while Cordelia prepares a concoction to force the demon to show its real self. Oz and Xander climb through the air vents in the hope of saving their friends. Giles and Cordelia break into the room while the parents watch the growing fire, and Cordelia uses a fire hose to put the fire out. As the demon--now in its true, ugly form--goes for Buffy, she breaks the stake she was tied to and stakes the creature (asking if she hit it as she couldn't see if she hit it). Everyone is safe, and the demon is dead
The next day, none of the parents remember much of anything regarding the recent events. Buffy and Willow are performing a spell in Willow's room to restore Amy, but it fails and Buffy suggests, "Maybe we should get her one of those wheel thingies."