Reversal of roles, letting go: these are the themes intertwined in this episode.
Willow being the teacher, not the student — and not only that, Willow being on top of things, while Giles, attempting to help her, is actually helpless. The Willow/Giles role reversal continues as she takes on the role of
the expert, the researcher, while Giles — smart as he is — is trapped by his sorrow. These is where the theme of letting go enters — Giles is having problems letting go of Jenny.
The Sadie Hawkins dance is the prelude to the gender role reversal. Later on, we see Buffy playing the man in the relationship of the ghosts, while Angel takes on the woman’s part. Their role reversal is what allows both o
f them to let go of what remains of their love for each other. From that point on, the war between Angel and Buffy gets “serious”. Until now, it was through taunts and by proxy, and from that episode on, it is obviously li
fe or death.
There is also a perceived role reversal for Buffy — while she begins the episode thinking that the ghost wants forgiveness, and denies it, she ends up the one needing her forgiveness. So the episode seems to end with lett
ing go — Giles lets Jenny rest in peace, and Buffy learns to live with her mistake. That is, until the end where we see a final role-reversal — from Angel usurping Spike, Spike, we now see, is the real schemer in the vampire nest.