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Stew’s Buffy The Vampire Slayer Retrospective: Season 3, Episodes 16 – 17

November 17, 2023 | Posted by Rob Stewart
Buffy the Vampire Slayer 3-16 Image Credit: 20th Century Fox TV

A PlayStation Commercial… Errrr, A Buffy The Vampire Slayer Retrospective, S3 E16-17


Episode 16

Image Credit: 20th Century Fox TV

It feels weird starting off with even number episodes. Stupid Xander! This is all your fault, too.

We start off with that Anyanka demon lady talking to her… boss, I guess? He is reprimanding her for losing her powers, and she asks for them back. He says no, which is just sensible. You can’t have your demon minions just losing their jewelry willy-nilly. She decides she will figure out how to get them back on her own.

At school, Buffy and Willow are chilling out on the lawn, with Willow magic-ing a pencil into spinning in the air. They talk a bit about Faith, giving us the line of “Faith will never be on the cover of Sanity Fair” from Buffy. Okay, that’s better than anything I’m going to write here today. Let’s pack it in.

This show occasionally remembers the Principal is a character, and he’s back! He wants Willow to tutor a failing basketball player named Percy. We… we’ve done this story before; I’m positive. Back when Willow was a teacher. He threatened her into passing another athlete guy. COME ON, BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER. Either make this an arc or remember where you’ve already been. No “Cordelia learns to drive”, this.

The group is meeting in the library, and Faith is just… back on the team? I know Buffy said she thought there was still good in her, but this seems sudden. Willow mentions to Faith that she is trying to hack into the Mayor’s computer files.

Faith, whose main characterization to this point has been her rebellious nature and disdain for authority, runs off to tell on Willow to the Mayor. He has given her a new luxury apartment, complete with a Sony Playstation. All right, Faith suddenly loving being under the Mayor’s authority is one thing, but NOTHING about her character leads me to believe she wants to play Final Fantasy VII. This is such weird product placement. Especially when Faith reacts gleefully to the news.

Oz tells Willow he is playing at The Bronze that evening; she agrees to go if she can finish her homework. Percy then approaches her and demands she just write his paper for him or the Principal will be mad at her. Thwarted!

But… the Principal pointed out that Willow is already accepted to every school she wants to go to when he said she has no time to help Percy, so if Willow just DOESN’T help this kid… what can he do to her? The show is out-logicing itself again.

Buffy and Xander find a frustrated Willow, and Buffy refers to her as “Old Reliable”, which sets Willow off (as much as she ever gets set off). She asserts that it is not a sexy nickname, which… should she really be upset about not being considered sexy right in front of Xander? She says everyone views her as a doormat.

Anyanka, still under the guise of Anya the school student, asks Willow for help with a spell to fold time, and Willow–who SHOULD know better, but just wants to do something for fun instead of being told to–is on board.

They start the spell, and Willow sees glimpses of the Cordelia-ized timeline from a few episodes ago, so she breaks off the spell. After seeing Anya trying to restore this alternate universe where everything was awful and vampires reigned, Willow does NOT conclude that Anya is evil; she just storms off.

What the spell HAS done before Willow stopped it is brought Evil Willow forth to our reality, though! While she searches this better existence for clues, we get a REALLY boring and shitty indie two-piece band playing at The Bronze. I really thought the show was done with these montages by this point!

Evil Willow comes across Percy in The Bronze, and she beats his ass for yelling at her. Xander intervenes, and her joy turns to anger when she finds out he is capital-A Alive. Buffy shows up, and Evil Willow reveals she is a vampire!

Outside the club, Evil Willow is attacked by vampires who think she is Vanilla Willow, and we finally (or I finally if “we” already knew this) learn the mayor’s name. Mayor Wilkins! Evil Willow kicks their butts and forces them to work for her.

At school, Buffy and Xander and lamenting to Giles Willow’s fate until… Willow shows up. So this episode WON’T be about them accidentally attacking their friend? I mean, I agree: good ideas ARE a terrible idea, BTVS. Let’s go with whatever you have planned instead.

Anya is at The Bronze being refused booze while Oz’ band is setting up. Angel drops in to talk to Oz, and while he is there, Evil Willow and her new minions start attacking people. Willow licks some girl’s neck all seductively because that’s what we folks who are more attracted to women get after two dozen episodes of shirtless Angel.

Angel rushes out to get help. Evil Willow feeds off a girl, then we get a close up of her face when she is done, and there is NO BLOOD on her lips, teeth, chin, etc. Did she use a straw, and I missed it? Oz almost gets himself killed by standing up to Evil Willow, but Anya interjects, having figured out what happened and who this new Willow is.

Angel tells the gang what is up, and they start heading out to The Bronze, but Evil Willow (HOW and/or WHY is she here all of the sudden?!) grabs Willow. She licks HER neck, leading Willow to question if she is gay after she turns the tables and tranquilizes Evil Willow. I mean, less “gay” and more “strangely egotistical”, maybe?

Either way, this episode has a LOT of neck licking, and I’m here for it.

To assuage Willow’s concerns, Buffy says that vampiric personalities have nothing to do with your human self. Interestingly, Angel seems to want to disagree, but thinks better of it.

Willow heads back into The Bronze in Evil Willow attire, and she gets into character pretty easily by making herself mad about everyone disrespecting her earlier. But Anya still figures it out pretty quick, so Willow screams for the team to come help.

Meanwhile, at school, Cordelia comes into the library while Evil Willow is in Library Jail. What is this girl’s deal? She is a popular girl who isn’t really part of the team any more, but she KEEPS SHOWING UP TO THE LIBRARY AT NIGHT TIME just to pick up or drop off books. After a tease that Cordy will outsmart herself by talking to “Willow” as a captive audience about cheating with Xander, she does end up letting the imprisoned vampire free. Timely interference from Wesley saves Cordelia. She hugs him and OH NO. This show has far too many inappropriate romances!

Big boring fight at The Bronze which our heroes win. We get a scene cut and SOMEHOW the Willows have changed clothes again, which, now that I think about it: they have to do that in full view of others, right? You can’t just send them off to a bathroom and hope Evil Willow doesn’t trick you somehow. So my headcanon is here is that the Willows just stripped and swapped clothes in front of the team at the library, and then in front of everyone at The Bronze.

It was Oz’ Best. Day. Ever.

They send Evil Willow back to her world, and she is INSTANTLY killed by her universe’s Oz. It really IS a good day for him!

Oh, and Percy wrote two papers out of fear of Willow. That’s our happy ending.

Episode 17

Image Credit: 20th Century Fox TV

Pre-notes note: I really shouldn’t be watching this silly ass show and leave thinking: Boy, the DIRECTING was weird on that one, but… Boy, the directing is weird on this one. Lots of oddly-framed shots and solo close-ups when people are talking. Maybe it’s all in my head, but this episode felt like a bunch of the scenes with people talking which were filmed miles and weeks apart. It never felt like the actors were in the same room as each other.

Come on, BTVS. I have bigger fish to fry than weird, amateurish directorial choices! Give me more of Mom being a useless putz whose characterization changes with the breeze instead!

Oh well. Let’s get into this episode that came SO CLOSE to pissing me off in other regards.

We start with Angel and Buffy leaving a movie (“Le Banquet d’Amelia”, which I looked up and it is NOT a real movie), and they use Network TV Language to say it was at least a softcore porn, which they did not expect. Angel reassures Buffy he is happy not having sex with her.

Honestly? This whole “He can’t experience one true moment of happiness, and that means SEX” thing? Really squigs me out. Like… is that implying having sex is the happiest I’ve ever been? INCORRECT. The happiest I’ve ever been was when I got married.

Or when the Seahawks won the Superbowl.

Definitely one of those two.

Like… it’s weird to say that sex makes you HAPPY. Like I could come up with adjectives for having sex, and I don’t think “happy” would be amongst them. Happier than literally anything else in the world? Weird, man.

Maybe it’s specific to Angel, though. That’s HIS one true moment of happiness. And that’s sad for him.

Now I’m picturing the night the Seahawks won the Superbowl and my turning into a vampire when it was over.


Buffy and Faith run into a weird, low-level demon while on patrol. He offers to get them the Books of Ascension for the low, low price of $5000. Faith is worried.

Faith tells on the demon to the Mayor. He orders her to kill the demon and steal the books. Faith initially balks at the idea, but then he implies he will KILL HER, and yeah, show. Sure. The Faith character we have seen up to this point would totally just be fine with that. He then orders her to drink some milk.

I have an image ready for that!

Faith busts into the demon’s house and smacks him around until he gives her the books. She kills him after a struggle that is a bit less one-sided than she expected out of him, and we get a shot of her expressing an emotion. I am not sure what it is. Maybe it’s HER one true moment of happiness? But it looks like regret.

The Faith The Vampire Slayer Show rolls on as she heads to Angel’s house with the demon’s blood on her hands. He tries to comfort her until she moves to kiss him, then he brushes her off. She kisses him on the cheek as she leaves and OF COURSE BUFFY SEES THIS. More forced drama!

Faith tells on… uh, herself, I guess… to The Mayor for her failure to bang Angelus out of Angel. He is okay with that; he has a backup plan.

At school, we get some Wesley and Giles with the team, and Giles feels like he was written by someone new to the series all episode. He keeps lamenting the demon Buffy and Faith found isn’t acting demon-y enough. In the good ol’ days it would be living in an underground lair instead of an apartment; it would want souls instead of $5000. Who cares, Rupert? What is this writing? He also… has the sniffles? Is this a plot point? I guess I’ll monitor it going forward.

At The Mayor’s office, he meets with… a zombie ninja? Some evil being dressed up like a ninja. Looks like a zombie. He has the ability to rob Angel of his soul. Is it with zombie ninjitsu? If he bites you, do you become a zombie or a ninja? Or both?! We need more zombies with shuriken in fiction.


Sorry, I just had to write something not at all related to what I just said on my notepad…

Anyway, Willow and Buffy talk about Buffy having seen Faith and Angel. Willow plays Voice Of Reason and reassures Buffy that Angel would never cheat on her, especially with FAITH. Buffy seems convinced and heads off to see Angel.

Faith appears to get to Angel first. She throws some blood on his chest, then the Zombie Ninja teleports in and casts a spell to revert Angel to Angelus*. He kisses, then attacks, Faith. But she offers him a place at the side of They Mayor, and he seems intrigued.

Faith brings Angelus to meet The Mayor. Lots of talking. Mayor reveals his immortality when Angelus throws a letter opener at him. Angelus just wants to torture and kill Buffy.

Oz, Willow, Wesley, and Cordy do some catching up on The Mayor and find out he has been alive for well over a hundred years. Willow reports she finally got into the Mayor’s files online, but everything had been cleared out. Hey, paying off that one line from last episode; good job.

Angelus and Faith KO Buffy and take her to his lair to shackle her up. Faith reveals she is jealous of Buffy, but we all know she just REALLY wanted a PlayStation so she could play NHL 99. She reveals The Mayor’s plan for The Ascension on Graduation Day.

Image Credit: WWE

Guys, I told you: it’s not about you!

After she has Bond Villain’ed away the plans, Angel reveals he was pretending and never was transformed back into Angelus*. Faith manages to escape both Buffy AND Angel. Come on, guys. Be better at your job.

After that, we get a bunch of mini-wrap-ups:

-Ninja zombie reveals he owed Giles a debt. Giles introduced him to his wife. I’m not sure if he’s joking or not, but it’s played seriously. And this episode is all Bizzaro-Giles.

-The Mayor is not particularly concerned about Faith’s failure and promises to kill the gang. Then he and she… agree to go play putt-putt?

-Angel and Buffy talk. She asked him to go through with the plot today so they could test Faith’s loyalty and learn stuff. But now DRAMA. Jesus. She wants a break from everything. God, why? What now?! None of this conflict feels natural!

* I was FURIOUS at this all episode until the late reveal it was all a sham. If they had really gone through with two seasons in a row with Angelus as an antagonist, I’d have lost my mind.

At least we are finally building to the resolution here, as most of Season Three was kind of meandering Monster Of The Week stuff. And don’t get me wrong: it was doing MotW FAR better than Season One or Two did, but it all felt directionless for so long. Now we have a definitive endgame: The Mayor, Graduation Day, and Konnor and Vik–I mean, The Ascension.

Faith is evil, but unrealistically so. And she seems torn over it, so I’m sure that will play out. Buffy and Angel are annoyingly back to Won’t They-ing. Wesley, Cordy, and Angel are all getting ready to launch a new show (right? Angel branches off after THIS, right? Or is it Season Four?). Things are happening!