Someone requested I insert a one-line synopsis about each episode to remind people what happened, so I'm just using the ones from the DVD case. Flawed and badly written as they are. :-P
[While casting a magic spell to help Anya regain her powers, Willow and Anya inadvertently summon Willow's evil twin, a vampire from an alternate universe.]
So Faith's back with no fanfare, eh? I mean, I know the last thing she did was save Buffy's life, but then she disappeared again, and this is apparently no big deal? She's back to training, as if nothing happened. That seems like a bit of an oversight to me. That and the fact that she's working for the Mayor just for good stuff like apartments. I guess I never really thought she was that shallow. Guess I was wrong.
It was interesting to see Anya again, and that she's trying to reinstate her powers. I wonder if that will go anywhere. Well, now that everyone knows what she's up to, perhaps not. It was interesting that this episode intersected with The Wish. It was also interesting that Willow didn't want her counterpart killed (though ironically, she sent her right back to the Wishverse to die instantly).
It was fun watching Allyson act both roles, especially when Willow was trying to be vamp!Willow. That was fun to watch, and she did a really great job of having her character try to pretend to be another character under duress.
And lulz on this bit:
Willow: "And I seem to be... gay."
Buffy: "Oh, no -- the personality of the person has nothing to do with the personality of the vampire."
Angel: "Well, actually... *pauses* Uh... no, nothing at all."
All of the Willow/Willow action was priceless. Heh. Funny because I know enough about this show to know Willow is at least bisexual, but also interesting because of what that possibly implies about the sort of person Angel really is/was.
One question I still have after this episode is why did the Mayor send vampires after Willow? They were clearly surprised to find her counterpart instead, and it seems that bit of a plan was foiled there. Hmmm...
[With the help of the Books of Ascension, Faith and the Mayor plot to steal Angel's soul, then get him to kill that other Slayer -- Buffy.] (That last comma is entirely inappropriate, and actually changes the meaning of the last part of the summary.)
Serious lulz on the Buffy and Angel go to the porno cinema opening! So... what's their deal at this point? Do they consider themselves a couple? They seem to, but there's that whole tortured thing going on too. And does "pure happiness" mean sex with someone he really loves, or what? It seems like it, but that's a bit too hokey. Does that mean he could have sex with someone he doesn't like and it would be okay? What if he wanks thinking about her?
Yes, these really are the things I wonder about.
This was a really interesting episode. I started to wonder halfway through if it was all a ruse to corner Faith (when Angel sees the Mayor's hand heal, there's a little moment where his expression of surprise is just too Angel), but I was convinced that it was wishful thinking on my part right up until the moment it was revealed. Well, it became pretty clear when he was hanging back and letting Faith monologue about the Mayor and the ascension. I mean seriously, why would he want to wait around for her to talk that long? The writing on this show is far better than that. So when she said, "I'm the best actor", I said his line before it even came out of his mouth. It was just what had to be happening.
Knowing it was an act, though, all of that Buffy/Angelus dialogue takes on a whole new level of meaning, like the "chains" comment, even as he's pretending to tie her up. The bit that stands out most to me is when he says, "I never really thanked you for sending me to hell." From what I can tell, that's something they've never really talked about, and her reaction to him saying that was really interesting. I couldn't help but wonder why he would say it then. In general, I wonder about him, and what he's feeling about everything that's happened. He's in love with her, but he has so many reasons to want to distance himself from her. I've always thought that men fall harder then women do, and I can almost see that in his character, like he's knows it's hopeless but he can't help himself. She could walk away from it, but he really can't. (Not yet, anyway.)
I have to admit I really like the idea of Angel being able to play Angel so easily. And it was interesting that it upset Buffy so much -- I mean, she's seen both sides of him, and she knows they're both in there, doesn't she? Or maybe the problem is that she doesn't want to believe it. I guess that's why she said she needed a break in the end. Or maybe she's feeling guilty about everything that's happened, and is wondering if she'll ever really be able to know him like she wants to. And aw, the "Are you still my girl?" line was nearly heartbreaking. Waah, I know we're heading towards him leaving Sunnydale, and I know that's how the show has to go -- not just because it really does, but realistically, this Buffy/Angel thing isn't going to go anywhere and the show needs to move on. But I'm sad for it. Already. :-(
The Cordelia/Wesley stuff is funny, especially since there's really no attempt by either of them to keep it a secret. All the jailbait lines are cracking me up, partly because I'm wondering if it's foreshadowing. And sort of hoping it is, to be honest.
I have to admit I loved seeing Angelus again, if only for a short while. He's just so interesting as an evil demon that it's too bad they can't keep him in check like that. The lines with Faith were a lot of fun: "I knew you'd like to be on top" and "Right now I just want you to keep wriggling". Hee! Fun stuff.
So, Faith is basically evil now and knows all about the Mayor's plan. She also knows exactly how to manipulate Buffy, which is bad in one sense, but good in another -- because now, she thinks she knows Buffy's weakness. Buffy is able to suck it up and be tough when she really needs to, and Faith doesn't know that yet. I have no idea where this is all going!
[After slaying a telepathic demon, Buffy is bombarded with the thoughts of everyone around her -- including one student who appears to be planning mass murder.] (Oh, please let me insert a little "those of" in there!)
So, who hasn't ever wished they could hear what other people were thinking? That was a lot of fun, particularly when people were thinking random things. I loved the fact that Xander kept thinking about sex, and Oz has all these deep thoughts that never seem to make it out of his mouth, and that Cordelia basically thinks exactly what she's about to say and nothing more. Oh, and that Angel couldn't be read at all -- nice touch, because it really forces Buffy to trust him. She needs to do that, and she doesn't need any magical powers to reinforce her trust in him.
Buffy: "That was funny."
Angel, totally deadpan: "I'm a funny guy."
Absolute favorite line, though was Buffy to Joyce: "You had sex with Giles? On the hood of a police car? Twice?" Perfect! And heh, I knew it!
It was also interesting that there were several red herrings, and that in the end the killer turned out to be the lunch lady, just as Xander joked. Is he The Ron of this series or what?
Buffy seems not to be hiding the Slayer thing too much, or at least, people don't seem to notice her physical feats.
I loved the fact that it was Angel who went after the demon and cut out his heart, and then brought it to Buffy's house in the frickin' daylight. Then fed her the goo and held her through it all. Aww. *sniff* You gotta love a guy who'll do that sort of thing for you.
Buffy's comment to Giles at the end was hilarious: "If you're not too busy having sex with my mother!" and then Giles walking right into a tree. Hee! Actually, I really like Giles/Joyce. I'd like to see more of that. Or at least read some fic about it. ;-)
[The mayor imprisons Willow after Buffy and Angel steal a box containing demonic energy, which the Mayor needs for his Ascension Day.]
Hee, the couple angst between Buffy and Angel at the beginning was fun. I like how they've settled into a comfortable relationship. It comforts me, especially knowing they haven't got much longer.
Ah, an episode that really moves the plot forward! The theme of choices being made was an interesting one here. Every character had to either make a choice or face a choice made, and that added some really interesting layers to the story. I was particularly impressed with how Willow's and Buffy's decisions to stay in Sunnydale for college made sense. So often TV shows come up with remarkably contrived reasons to keep people around. And UC-Sunnydale? That made me laugh. I think you have to get the California university system to know why that's funny...
The Mayor is a really interesting bad guy. I like the combination of batshit crazy, evil, and Ward Cleaver. It's really endearing. It's also interesting that Faith is looking more and more fucked up as time goes on. That girl has some serious daddy issues.
This episode seemed to be Willow's chance to shine, and that she did. Her standing up to Faith would have seemed OOC, except that in the context of this storyline, it worked. Buffy and gang's immediate decision to exchange Willow for the box seemed a bit out of the blue to me. It was almost as if they made the decision that fast just because Wesley wanted to sacrifice her, as if they were rebelling. Of course, it was important for the plot that they get her back, and that she get her hands on the Books of Ascension so that they will now have an idea of what they're up against. It seems a bit weak in the writing department, but I'm not sure how else they would've done it. They accomplished quite a lot with that single storyline.
I also found the Mayor's monologue about Buffy's and Angel's future relationship bizarre. I mean, I know this is what they need to hear to set his move to LA in motion, but did they have to hear it from the Bad Guy? And in the middle of a prisoner exchange? That seemed a bit odd.
And OMG, billions of face-sucking spiders are going to be released??? That sounds like a nightmare I had once. And Cordelia has a job, apparently because she wants to buy that dress she keep fondling. I'm betting we'll hear more about that soon.
So in short, there were LOTS of interesting things happening here, but many of them felt like a bit of a stretch, almost as if the writers were trying to do too much in a single episode. This season seems to be one episode short, so maybe that's why. It feels rushed. Hmmm.
[Buffy battles three fearsome hell-hounds that another classmate has programmed to attack students during Sunnydale High's senior prom.]
Okay, since we're on the last three episodes, I was expecting tears. I even brought a box of kleenex along, because me + hormones + angst = a fucking good cry. I got one, and strangely, it felt so much better than the ones from the end of season two. Of course, I'm not done yet. *coughs*
I have lots of thoughts on this episode, and I think I'm just going to list them, more or less in chronological order.
• The couple talk at the beginning of the episode was sweet, with Buffy wanting a drawer and hinting that she could move in. Though it totally felt like we were being set up for something sad, waah.
• The whole bit with Anya asking Xander to the prom was hilarious. Even more hilarious was the fact that he said yes. And then had to endure all of her gory demon stories for the evening!
• I was totally convinced that the wedding dream was Buffy's, just as I imagine I was supposed to think. Finding out it was really Angel's dream was just as bittersweet, and that he then dreamed that he could walk into the sun and she couldn't -- it was a beautiful metaphor for his fears. Nicely done. And made me cry, oh yes!
• And then the break-up scene and the aftermath: wow, so good. So real. It reminded me of being Buffy's age and finding out that my boyfriend was moving away, and that it was basically over. And while I understood that he had to leave, my god how awful it was. When Buffy said, "this can't be real," it took me right back to being 17, I swear. And her grief with Willow -- ouch, man. Especially that she recognized in the end that he was right. Ouch.
• Giles's reaction to hearing Buffy and Angel had broken up was perfect. I love the relationship between those two. I've read a little Buffy/Giles fic, and it all kind of made me go "Ew", because I can't see him as anything other than a father figure for her. What really cemented it for me was Helpless, when she found out her dad wasn't coming to take her to the ice show and wanted Giles to take her. And he would have, under other circumstances. She needs a daddy. *sniff*
• Interesting twist for Cordelia that her family is suddenly poor. I know she's going to be on A:tS, so I guess this is part of the setup for that. I really loved the implication that Xander paid for her dress, without it being explicitly stated. That was all we needed, and it was a lovely moment as a result. It was great that he did it out of genuine affection for her, with no expectations. It seems that Xander has his moments of maturity after all.
• Cordelia/Wesley was a lot of fun to watch, especially when he first saw her and basically choked. And then when he asked Giles if he should ask her to dance, Giles was all, "Get the fuck on with it already!" The actors are probably about the same age, so the whole jailbait thing has been highly amusing.
• Where does Angel get money to buy blood and rent tuxes and stuff? I mean, it wasn't that long ago that he was homeless and living off rats. What, did he sell a book deal? He sure as hell doesn't have a job.
• The whole hellhound subplot was so "sub" that I wondered what the point was, except to delay Buffy's entrance to the prom and provide a little drama. It got resolved so quickly that I was convinced something more was going to happen. But I guess it can just be easy for Buffy sometimes, huh? And why didn't anyone wonder where a high school student got four hell-hounds? That seems a bit odd. Like something to look into. I guess they have other things on their minds...
• Buffy's classmates giving her an award was so, so sweet. I thought it brought some nice closure to the school years for the show. The other students couldn't have been so dumb as not to notice what was going on, after all. I loved the line about the class of '99 having the lowest mortality rate of any in recent memory. Heh. You'd think people would wise up and move away, you know? I guess someone has to win the Darwin award.
• When I was a senior in high school, I was dating a 25-year-old guy, and when prom time came around, he asked me about it one day. He looked really uncomfortable, and said that if I really wanted to go, he'd take me. Of course, I was so over high school at that point and the idea of going to a prom was not remotely attractive, so I laughed it off and said I wasn't interested, that I'd rather go out for an elegant dinner, then go back to his place and drink wine and have a glorious night of sex. Which is what we did, and it was great. But a little part of me regretted not going to the prom. If nothing else, I missed the chance to show off my hot 25-year-old boyfriend.
But anyway, I felt for Buffy in all of this, that she wanted that night to be perfect and then had to go alone. Of course, I knew Angel would show up. He just had to, because they had mentioned so many high school movie cliches by that point that this one just had to be in there. It had to be like all those Molly Ringwald movies, you know? And he came, and they danced, and there were tears. Oh, yes.
Now, on to the finale in two parts. *readies tissues*
[(1) To distract Buffy and keep her from interfering with the Mayor's ascension, Faith shoots Angel with an arrow whose poison can only be cured by the blood of a Slayer. (2) Buffy, her friends, and all the students of Sunnydale High prepare to face off against the Mayor and his hoard of vampires in a seemingly hopeless effort to save their town.] (Okay, hoard? Who writes the copy on these? Didn't anyone with a thesaurus bother to proofread the summaries? And "curing poison"? What the hell does that mean? Geez.)
I expected this one to be a tear-jerker, but it was more of a "Hell, yeah!" Interesting.
Giles out of the tweed? So very hot. My god that man can wear a sweater. Poor Amy is still a rat! And aw, Willow and Oz finally do the deed! None of the scoobies graduates from high school a virgin, how sweet.
The whole subplot with Angel was really interesting. At first, I thought the Mayor had to have set Faith up. I thought he must have known that the only cure for the poison was Slayer blood, and that he would have assumed they would come after Faith. But then he was surprised that Faith had been attacked. Or maybe his confidence in her abilities was too high? Maybe he knew they would come after her and just assumed she would win easily. I wonder if she's really gone? Even with the head injury, Slayers heal extra well, don't they? The Slayer Deathmatch was fun, though.
I had guessed that Buffy would have to sacrifice herself to save Angel early on, and though I'd hoped she'd catch Faith, when she went back to the castle alone, I assumed she'd do it. I just didn't think Angel would give in. It was interesting that they filmed it as a metaphor for sex, with the shot of his tattoo reminiscent of the sex scene back in season 2, and her legs wrapped around him, and the muffled moans and heavy breathing. There was a certain amount of eroticism to that scene that sort of caught me off guard. It also hammered home the point Angel made last episode when he said Buffy deserved a man who could make love to her. This is all he can give her, really, and it sort of cemented the end of their relationship. Handy that she could have all of her blood replaced so easily, though. I don't think that's medically possible, but considering that this is a show about vampires and demons, I'll suspend my disbelief.
The resolution of the Cordelia/Wesley storyline was hilarious. I think I wrote a scene like that in a fic once. *scratches head*
I LOVED the fact that Buffy's plan was hidden from us until it happened! That was great fun to watch unfold. When the whole graduating class stood up and stripped off their robes to reveal these medieval-ass weapons strapped to their chests, I was seriously a-squee! I was on my feet by the time Angel and whoever all he had with him rounded on the vampires from the other side. Oh, man, that was glorious! And again, there's the message of the show: strength in numbers. Like it said in that book that was mentioned, everyone had to overcome their differences and come together. Just like the Sorting Hat said in OOTP!! Isn't it cool how much overlap there is between great stories, even while they're totally different? And Giles didn't have to die, even.
The themes of coming of age and rebirth through the fire were pretty strong here, and all well-executed. Buffy quitting the influence of the Council was a great touch, and it was interesting that it came across as a reasoned decision, and not simply youthful rebellion. (Again, like Harry in HBP telling the MoM he was Dumbledore's man.) Giles supporting her was awesome, and it signaled that he sees her as a adult now. The school being destroyed was a great image of the past being completely behind them and the future being wide open -- this show is going to change, they're saying, and expect it all to be different next season. And then Angel disappears into the fog. *sigh* That moment didn't hurt me like I thought it would. I guess I was well-prepared for it after all of this.
Was that the longest frickin' eclipse ever, or what? Again, I can suspend my disbelief, but still. You know?
Ah, season three, how I adored you. I'm sorry it's over. I think this was my favorite season of the three I've watched so far. There was just so much character development and world-building in it. The characters really grew up, which was fantastic. I'm now torn between watching DVD extras and going on to season 4...
From here on out, I'm going to be watching episodes of Angel at the same time, so I'll be posting about season 4 of Buffy and season 1 of Angel together, at least as long as it makes sense to do so.
Author's Chapter Notes:
Episodes 16-22: Doppelgangland, Enemies, Earshot, Choices, The Prom, and Graduation Day (1 & 2).