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Stew’s Buffy The Vampire Slayer Retrospective: Season 3, Episodes 5-6

September 1, 2023 | Posted by Rob Stewart
Buffy the Vampire Slayer 3-5 1 Image Credit: 20th Century Fox TV

Wait, Xander AND Willow Are The Worst? A BTVS Retrospective, S3, E5-6


Episode 5

Image Credit: 20th Century Fox TV

It’s off to SunnyDale High School where we start this episode with our main characters sitting around talking about Homecoming.

So you know what that means!

It’s still way too early in the year for sunset to be 5:30, god damn it!

(Unless Homecoming is in January or something)

Scott has not asked Buffy to Homecoming yet, setting up a plot point that is immediately resolved when he, you know, asks her to Homecoming. Thank god we had those four to five sentences, phew. I have no idea where we’d have been without them.

After being asked, Buffy bails on the group, and Scotty doesn’t know she is off to bring Angel some blood. Seems he can talk a little more now, and Buffy tells him about Scott and moving on with her life.

Cut to Scott dumping Buffy the next day, and wow, this show makes me feel like I’m on drugs all the time. Didn’t we just waste time with a Homecoming thing? Whatever. He says she is too distracted for him. Some distance away, two guys in a van are spying on our slayer and her now-ex. They activate their DIAL-UP MODEM and connect to their boss, an old man in a wheelchair. Kokistos’ minion is with him.

Man, dial-up modem noise. I feel like I was one of the last people on Earth to get high speed Internet, and that still gives even me the nostalgia willies.

At the mayor’s office–hey, we’re finally meeting the mayor!–an aide brings news of the two guys in the van; they are wanted German terrorists! The mayor is busy being mad that the aide has… dirty hands? That’s a character trait, I guess. He tells aide to monitor the terrorists.

Cordelia is in full-on Homecoming Queen Fever, and she is scouting her opposition, two other senior girls. She slut-shames one of them, noting that one’slack of sexual restraint makes her a bigger threat.

Buffy and Faith are sparring in the library, and wait… does Faith go to school here now? Or is she just hanging around? Buffy can’t find any teacher to write her a glowing recommendation; the one she thought would do so does not even remember who she is. Buffy is getting existential about how popular she was in LA, but in SunnyDale, her high school experience seems to be progressing without her.

She even missed Yearbook Picture Day, and nope. That’s not a thing for seniors, show. Seniors get their own pictures professionally done. What kind of high school has its seniors just get generic yearbook photos?

Anyway, this causes a spat between Buffy and Cordy, and the race for Homecoming Queen is ON.

Minion Vamp is gathering his own squad for a planned assault on Buffy and Faith. Brad Paisley vampire is back! And he has a wife now, I guess. The terrorists are there with their wheelchair boss. Some… hunter guy. And a Stegosaurus Guy! He has Stegosaurus plates on his head! I love him! The show has no interest in telling me where he came from, and I don’t care. I want the whole show to be about him now. Stego-Man The Vampire Slayer Slayer!

Willow and Xander are trying on their Homecoming outfits, and Willow has one of those changing screens that people in movies and TV have, but I have never ever seen in real life. You know the thing: the foldy-up wall thing that gives a sexy silhouette of the person behind it changing? And they can throw their clothes over the top of it to hang there?

For the comments: Have you ever seen one of these in real life?

Anyway–and UGH, I can not believe I am about to type this–Willow and Xander and each mesmerized by how the other looks in their fancy dress, and they KISS. God, no, why? Why is this a plot point? How is this a plot point? I despise this show so much some times!

Buffy has a marker board full of statistics on her Homecoming Queen opposition, listing all their strengths and weaknesses. They each have a little… thermometer gauge next to their name, too? Is she fund-raising for them? She asks Willow, Oz, and Xander to work with her, but… they are all Team Cordy. You better support Cordy, Willow! You are moving in on her man.

As much as Xander is a “man”, I guess.

It turns out Cordelia is straight up paying people to vote for her. Buffy calls her a whore. Two things:

-Wouldn’t that actually make the people voting for her in exchange for money the more whore-ish ones?

-This show is awful fast-and-loose with that word this season. I’m guess Joss Whedon did a lot more script treatments in season three.

On the night of Coming Home, Buffy and Cordelia find themselves in the limo alone together. The rest of the group bailed so those two would have to talk to each other. They start bickering over who gets which corsage. How did Buffy get a corsage? She has no date.

The van terrorists are still spying on the two of them, and after a short drive, the limo pulls over and the driver runs away. The girls get out and find a TV and VCR set up in the woods (what is it plugged into?). Minion guy says they are about to be hunted. Seems he expected the limo to have Buffy and FAITH, not Cordelia.

Not that this scene is important, but we cut to the dance, and Faith is there sans date, so I guess she does go to school here now? Or the Homecoming Dance is open to the public. She finds Scott dancing with a girl and tells him right in front of her that she got STI results back after their time together. Oh, Faith. You whacky scamp.

Cordelia and Buffy take refuge in a Cabin In The Woods (Joss reference!) after defeating Hunter Guy. Cordy is having a break down–including mentioning that she truly loves Xander–but Buffy riles her up to distract her. They find a phone and start leaving Giles a message, but Hair Club For MeN Professor X back at minion guy’s lair deactivates the phone by computer.

Can computers do that? Could they in 1998, anyway? Remotely disconnect landline phones?

Stego-Man busts in and starts a fight, and the terrorist bros launch a grenade into the cabin. Buffy and Cordelia dive to safety, but Stego-Man eats it because he can’t jump through a boarded up wall.

I REFUSE TO BELIEVE HE IS DEAD. I love you Stego-Man! I look forward to your triumphant return in a few episodes. YOU HAVE PROTECTIVE PLATES!

Wheelchair guy is somehow tracking Buffy and Cordelia, and wouldn’t they have to have trackers for him to do that? Or is this guy’s technology just straight-up magic? The girls are heading to the school… where Giles has been KO’ed by Braid Paisley.

And then the cops break in and fucking arrested Minion Guy! This show sometimes! Are they taking him to Invisible Assassin School like that other girl? Show, you already did this once!

I’m not worried about Minion Guy, though. The cops in this town are from a video game. If he hides behind a wall for five minutes, the exclamation point over the cops’ heads will go away, and they will forget to pursue him for his crimes. It worked for Buffy, anyway.

Buffy slays Mrs. Paisley, but gets clobbered by Brad. Cordelia rolls for Intimidate on him, and… it’s a nat 20! She successfully scares him away. This guy is a loser who keeps getting his loved ones killed, but he just. Keeps. Escaping. He’s going to be a big deal later on, right?

OH, the corsages have the trackers in them! Okay, I am stupid and did not see that coming. Fair play, show. I still have so many questions, though:

So the limo driver was always in on the whole thing; that’s why the corsages were there and bugged, as well as why he drove them to the TV in the woods. Makes sense!


-Why did he pick up Cordelia instead of Faith? The bad guys wanted the latter, not the former.

-What would he have done if the rest of the gang DIDN’T decide to no-show and force Buffy and Cordy together? Was he going to drive around SunnyDale and pick up all these rando students, too?

There’s this weird implication that the driver was somehow both a part of Minion Guy’s plan AND Xander and Willow’s plan.

I do not know what limo drivers make, though, so maybe he saw two paydays and just went for it. Respect the hustle, limo driver!

Anyway, realizing the corsages have trackers, Buffy and Cordy trick the terror twins into shooting each other.

The cops bring the minion to the mayor, and we find out the former’s name is Mr. Trick, and that is, like, 15% better than Minion Guy, so I guess I’ll allow it. Mayor wants to team up.

Finally, at the Homecoming Dance, Buffy and Cordelia have bonded over the course of the night. When the winner is announced, it turns out there is a tie for Homecoming Queen! And it’s… THE OTHER TWO GIRLS.

That actually got me. Bravo, show. Great ending. I really bit hard on the fake cheesy resolution of B & C co-winning and being happy.

GUYS, ALSO: Stego-Man was played by the director of the John Wick movies! I should do more research on these episodes; that is crazy!

Episode 6

Image Credit: 20th Century Fox TV

It’s SAT prep time for Buffy, and she is studying with Giles while sitting around in a cemetery. He’s trying to help round her out and hopefully set her up for as much of a real life as is possible. A vampire attacks, dies.

The mayor and Mr. Trick are in his office working out their new partnership. The mayor reveals he has a whole… a whole…


I put this in Google: “what is that standing thing you open up and store things in called”. I feel like it is a fancy word, but Google just recommended “Shelves” and “Hatstand”.


What is that called? A curio? I’m going with a curio.

He has a whole curio full of arcane items!

In school, the gang is talking about the SATs, and Cordelia mentions she tests really well, then is upset when that doesn’t fit into the little box of what her friends think about her. You tell ’em, Cordy! Principal comes along and demands the whole school start selling candy bars to support the band.

Mom buys half of Buffy’s stash to support her. Buffy asks about learning how to drive, but mom flat-out refuses. So Buffy tells mom she is off to patrol with Giles.

Buffy does train a bit with Giles, but she ends up bailing on him after just a few minutes, too. She tells him that she needs to spend time with mom. It’s all a ruse, though, as she is off to check on Angel, who is doing shirtless tai-chi.

I like that the advertising of this show was all aimed at boys (“Look how sexy Sarah Michelle Gellar is!”). SEE EXAMPLE: here

…but the show KNEW its audience was actually teenage girls. So we get about 900% more shirtless David Boreanaz than SMG in “revealing outfits”.

Anyway, Angel can speak whole sentences now. She gives him some fresh butcher blood. He asks about Scott, and Buffy lies and says she is still with him.

Upon arriving at home, Buffy is teamed up on by Giles and mom, who coordinated their efforts to realize she was lying to them. Mom is POUNDING a chocolate bar here, so really? The CANDY is going to be evil? I mean, I guess that makes as much sense as anything. The two adults send Buffy to bed without bothering to force out of her where she was the whole night. I mean, that’s one way to punt on that plot, I guess. After Buffy leaves, Giles starts eating a candy bar, too…

In class the next day, everyone is waiting for Giles to arrive to teach his class. Look, I know a lot of teachers have died, but when did Giles have classes to teach? This is brand new. Why not just hire Willow on again? She’s RIGHT THERE.

Oh, and the reason they don’t hire Willow is because she and Xander and rubbing their shins together under the desk. Come on, man. Previously, they kissed in a heated moment and then felt bad. Now they are straight up touching each other sensually and on purpose in a non-sexy environment. I expect this from Xander; he’s an enormous piece of shit. But Willow? I am disappoint.

Outside the classroom, Principal is eating the candy, too. Doesn’t he KNOW it’s evil? What sense does this make? He sends a teacher in to sub for Giles, but she just tells the kids to do whatever they want and go ahead and leave.

At home, Mom and Giles are chowing down on candy and working out a schedule to arrange Buffy’s time so she can fit in everything she needs to. Mom gives Buffy the keys to her car and sends her away. When Buffy gleefully goes out to illegally drive without a license OR a permit, Giles and mom start smoking and drinking. And listening to record, which is the most evil thing of all. Don’t be vinyl hipsters, guys! They’re so annoying!

Buffy is, as expected, an awful driver. She’s no Cordelia! She and Willow hit The Bronze, but it is full of hard-partying adults, all voraciously eating the candy. Principal comes up and embraces them before leaving to chase some cute middle-aged women. Buffy, Willow, and Oz are confounded by what is going on and decide to head out to investigate.

Remember: this is the same show that previously this season had Buffy just magically intuit that the blood bank was evil and that Debbie and Pete were behind some maulings. But here, they see all these cranked up adults housing these brand new candy bars and acting strange, and oh yeah… THIS ONE is the real head-scratcher for them, huh, guys?

THIS is the episode where Buffy could have gone instantly gone, “Oh, the evil is [X]”, and I’d have been like “Yes, this deduction is reasonable”.

Principal hops in the car with them, and I kind of love the moron version of this guy being On The Team this episode.

Mom and Giles are out on the town, and Giles busts into a store and steals a coat for mom. A cop tries to stop them, but Giles clocks him, getting mom all hot for him, so they start making out.

Some guy eating candy wrecks his car into Buffy’s and flees the scene. When they all get out of the car, someone runs up and takes Principal’s chocolate bar, infuriating him. NOW the gang puts it all together! Buffy takes Principal with her to go investigate the source of the candy. They shortly pass mom and Giles, who are still in full PDA mode. Buffy scolds them, and they react petulantly.

My favorite team-up in the history of Buffy The Vampire Slayer occurs–Buffy, Giles, mom, and Principal!–as the four of them break into the factory where the chocolate is coming from. Oh, it’s that Ethan guy from Giles’ youth who is in on this caper. After some physical violence, he tells them the vampires are supplying the candy to get the town off-guard so they can provide a tribute to Lurconis, the new Summon Materia the bad guys acquired.

The tribute is babies!

Buffy and Giles go to the sewers, where all evil in this town resides. The vamps have the babies ready to sacrifice. The Mayor and Mr. Trick are there, though they separately flee as Buffy stakes the rest of them. Lurconis appears! He is a giant snake, and Buffy just Effortlessly (TM) burns him with some fire to defeat him.





“Oh no, we have to stop the vampires from summoning this great new threat! Oh no, we failed and the great new threat is summoned! Aaaand we vanquish it easily, nevermind”.

The Judge. Acathla. The Anointed. The Order Of Teraka. The Three. And those are the ones that just spring to mind.

At school on Monday, Buffy has already taken her SATs over the weekend, and all of the adults are back to normal. It’s left… ambiguous as to how much the adults recall of Friday night, which… come on! I want Principal to remember that shit.

It is implied Giles and mom banged, though, and they both seem to remember THAT. Huh.

I really loved doofball Principal, and I wish we had had more of him.

But I REALLY really loved Stego-Man, especially when I found our Chad Staheleski played him.

It looks like Mr. Trick and The Mayor are the season three ne’er-do-wells, and… I don’t know. They are middling. I’m really curious as to when Spike returns. I’m surprised he has, thus far, honored his word to Buffy. How long do we wait to see him again, I wonder? And when does Angel splinter off into his own show (I’m guessing at the end of this season, right?)?

And I hope–I hope I Hope I HOPE–this Willow/Xander thing resolved quickly. I don’t want to hate Allyson Hannigan.