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Stew’s Buffy The Vampire Slayer Retrospective: Season 3, Episodes 9 – 10

October 20, 2023 | Posted by Rob Stewart
Buffy the Vampire Slayer 3-09 Image Credit: 20th Century Fox TV

I WANT YOU SO BADLY!”: A BTVS Retrospective, S3 E9-10


Episode 9

Image Credit: 20th Century Fox TV

Season 3 episode 9 starts off with some Davey-Jones-From-Pirates-Of-The-Caribbean-ass monster choking Buffy out and just… letting Willow and Xander run around to assist her until she can kill it. The three of them talk for a second about Cordelia and Oz, but then pivot to Faith. They agree they need to invite her out more often, for her sake. She is lonely!

Cordelia is at home, cutting up and burning all of her pictures of Xander. She has a bandage over her belly to show you that the show takes being impaled at least 5% more seriously than it takes severe head trauma!

At school the next day, Willow laments that she has stalked Oz’ locker all day, but he has not used it. Cordelia arrives looking boss as hell. She is here to show up and show out! She meets up with her old friend group, including a new girl named Anya. They seem cool at first, but instantly start picking on her for being cheated on by XANDER. Why would Cordy publicize this? Why not “Yeah, I dumped him after I came to my senses”. Is XANDER running around telling people he cheated on her? Because that’s… that actually sounds like something he would do.

Willow finally corners Oz and wants to talk, but he says to leave him alone. He knows she just wants to talk to him to make herself feel better, and that’s not his job to handle for her right now. Oz is seriously too smart of a character to be on this show. He doesn’t just fall into stupid sitcom tropes. Who wrote him? They should write EVERYONE.

Later in the school day, we see Cordelia’s social station has COLLAPSED. She tries to talk to a boy in the hall, but he ridicules her and implies she would only be good for a private roll in the hay. She starts talking to Anya about everything going on, and the latter seems sympathetic.

At The Bronze, Cordy is laughing with friends (where did she get friends again?) to continue putting on a show for Xander. Xander says he is OVER trying to feel guilty! Guy, you ruined her life by dating her, cheated on her, and indirectly got her impaled. MAYBE a week of feeling guilty is the LEAST you could go through? He puts his hand on Willow’s innocently while they talk, and she says they can’t do that anymore, even as friends.

Xander, of course, takes this like a bratty little baby. OH MY GOD, this character.

Outside the club, Buffy tries to talk to Cordelia to see how she is holding up, but a vampire strikes. In the fracas, Cordy gets tossed into some garbage. Her former friends walk by and laugh at her. This causes Cordelia to decide BUFFY is the root of all her problems!

At school the next day, Anya gives Cordy a necklace? Says it is for luck. All right, that’s weird. You’ve known her for a day, and you are giving her jewelry. Coming on a bit strong, Anya! Cordelia says she wishes Buffy never came to SunnyDale. Anya’s face turns monstrous, and she says “DONE!”.

OH we are doing “It’s A Wonderful Life” here this episode. Except a character wished SOMEONE ELSE was not around. Okay, let’s see. This means the entirety of SunnyDale is dead, right? Between all the various unstoppable monsters and stuff.

Inside the school, Cordy’s friends are her friends again. The guy that dissed earlier is shyly asking HER to a dance! How Cordy Got Her Groove Back! Her friends note there is a curfew right after school ends and that SOMETHING tragic has happened to The Bronze (but we don’t see it yet). Cordy asks about Xander and Willow; her friends tell her they are dead!

Yes, in this reality EVERYONE should be dead.

Because of OH LET’S SEE:

-The preying mantis lady should have killed all the boys in the school.

-The monster in the basement should have them all mind controlled into distributing eggs.

-The baseball kid in the coma should have them all living in deadly perpetual nightmares.

-Hell, Lagos from, like, two episodes ago should have his thunder glove of doom.

I mean, those all jump IMMEDIATELY TO MIND, nevermind the dozen other things that aren’t vampires that I must be forgetting.

Here’s what I LOVE about this episode: A teacher says that they will be holding their monthly period of mourning. And that means there IS a limit for the number of dead students and teachers in this school at which point people will fucking acknowledge it, but THE REAL WORLD SUNNYDALE HAS JUST NOT HIT IT YET.

At night, Cordelia runs into Xander (dressed as a god damn greaser, and this show LOVES THAT LOOK) and Willow (dressed as a sexy evil lady). They are “dead” in that they are vampires. Giles, Oz, and two other characters roll up in a van and save her!

We see The Bronze is Vampire Central, and they have humans locked up in cages. Xander and Willow head through to the back and find The Master, who used one of the several “ONCE IN A LIFETIME” prophecies from season one to get free (but not the one that required the slayer, I imagine). No Anointed, thank god. I hated that kid. The Master tells them to go kill Cordelia.


They rush Cordy while she is in the library talking to Giles and straight up MDK her.

Excuse me, she was the main character this episode! How is she supposed to learn her It’s A Wonderful Life lesson if she dies?

Whatever. Giles takes the necklace off of her when he frees himself from library jail and starts studying it…

Back at The Bronze, Angel is shackled up in a back room. As a present for killing Cordelia before she could summon the slayer, Willow is allowed to go torture him, which mostly seems to involve just letting matches burn his chest. Extremely painful, no doubt! But I feel like she could do better. Hell, I’m pretty sure I’d just let evil Allyson Hannigan do that to me.

Giles figures out the necklace is from a wish demon. As he drives home to do more research, he sees some humans getting rounded up. He saves them, but he gets jumped in the process. Suddenly, he is saved… by Buffy! To show that this future is harsh and dark, she has a scar on lip!

Buffy finds Angel as she is searching for The Master, and he still knows her. That’s fair; remember: he fell in love with FOURTEEN YEAR OLD BUFFY from afar when the good guy demon brought him to California. But in this world, she went to Ohio instead of SunnyDale.

Which, I mean… Hellmouth. Ohio. Ohio. Hellmouth.

Kind of a fair trade either way.

Back at home, Giles summons Anya, who is actually a demon called Anyanka. She does NOT like men… or being summoned!

At The Factory, The Master seems to be happy to unveil a master plan, which involves… rolling sedated humans down a conveyor belt and extracting their blood via pumps? Okay, sure. I feel like we didn’t need this, but who am I to question the writers of this show? There’s a big brawl! Xander kills Angel. Buffy kills Xander. Oz kills Willow. The Master kills Buffy…

And then Giles destroys Anyanka’s necklace, ending the wish.

We cut back to Cordelia in our superior Buffy Timeline making off-the-cuff wishes to Anya, but Anya can’t make them come true anymore.

Hey, you know whose life is better in that other reality?


Episode 10

Image Credit: 20th Century Fox TV

We start off in Dublin in 1838, so… great. More Angel flashbacks. Haven’t we already shown enough of this guy’s life? Apparently not because here he has a MOUSTACHE! Not a great look, David Boreanaz! Has he had moustaches in previous flashback episodes? This feels new.

In the flashback, Angel kills a gambler who tried to cheat him, causing Angel to awake with a start. He heads out into the world, and we see it is CHRISTMASTIME! Have we had a Christmas episode yet? I bet we have, but I can’t recall one. He runs into a shopping Buffy, and while they talk, he sees the ghost of the man he killed in 1838.

At school, Buffy, Xander, and Willow discuss their Christmas break plans. Willow repeatedly has to remind everyone she is Jewish. I feel like I would remember that if there had been a Christmas episode last season because of that fact! Xander notes he sleeps outside Christmas night; a nearby Cordelia pipes up that he told her he does that because his family typically gets drunk and fights. That is a very low blow, Cordy. DID YOU LEARN NOTHING LAST EPIS–oh right, you died.

Willow and Oz finally talk, and Oz is willing to give her another go. He misses her a lot. So good job with that one episode of relationship drama, Buffy The Vampire Slayer.

Presumably later that night, Buffy and mom are tree shopping. Mom insists that Buffy invites Faith over for Christmas Eve so she won’t be alone. Buffy reluctantly agrees and also suggests inviting Giles. Mom kiboshes that RIGHT quick, so the “Giles and mom boned” angle seems to have some legs…

Mom apparently thinks they are in a horror movie and suggests they SPLIT UP to look for trees. How vast is this tree park that they can’t cover it all together? Most of the pop-up tree places where I am are in a parking lot. Buffy ends up finding a patch of trees that are all dead.

Buffy heads to Faith’s hotel room for an lightly awkward conversation. She invites the newer slayer to Christmas. Faith wildly unconvincingly says she has a big party to go to instead. Buffy clearly sees through this, but lets it go.

A disheveled Angel shows up at Giles’ home for a HEAVILY awkward conversation. Giles invites him in, but keeps a crossbow trained on him. Angel is clearly struggling with these bad dreams and visions. Giles seems to start to consider helping him, but Angel sees Ms. Calendar and flips the hell out and runs away!

Angel continues having nightmares, with the next one taking place in a large estate. And he still has a moustache. Man, they paid for this fake moustache, and they were GOING TO USE IT! He is pressuring a server at the party into sneaking off with him. When she starts refusing, he goes full incel and says he will call her a slut and get her in trouble with her boss. In his dream, he sees Buffy, causing both himself AND Buffy to wake up. When he is awake, Ms. Calendar’s ghost is there berating him. She morphs into the guy from the first dream.

Wait a second.

I know I questioned whether vampires retain their human memories back when Angel had Giles imprisoned, but the show DEFINITELY established that humans don’t retain their vamp memories! Why is Angel recalling things that Angelus did?!

(The episode does end up explaining this, but it was really getting my goat for a minute!)

Buffy meets up with Giles and persuades him that Angel is in real duress and needs their help or else… who knows what he might do? Of all people, XANDER walks in and says he wants to help Angel, too, and he blames it on the Christmas spirit. Willow gets roped in, too, and the team gets to work.

Angel has a very naughty dream about Buffy, and she is simultaneously having the same dream. And I don’t mean, like, they are each having a sex dream about the other. They are literally having THE SAME DREAM together. Buffy sees some kind of being with its eyes crossed out over Angel’s shoulder, but before she can do anything, he vamps up and bites her, causing both to wake up.

Waking up just keeps not helping Angel, though. The Ghost Of Calendar Past is there to tell him he has to bang Buffy and then kill her.

The team figures out that Angel’s tormentors are The Bringers, a.k.a. The Harbingers, and I’m not sure why they needed two names. This is apparently why the memories work for Angel; they are doing it to him. They work for The First Evil, an unstoppable (sure it is, show; just like The Judge was) entity that represents the appearance of all evil in the world. So it’s like Pandora’s Box: The Monster.

Buffy and Xander off to Willy’s bar for more info, and he tells them The Bringers are underground. Of course they are. 85% of the threats in this town are underground. Do you think they get together on their off days and play Sewer Uno or something?

While Buffy and Xander are on the case, Willow is preparing to seduce Oz. She has a dress on and candles lit and what looks to be Gatorade on ice. All with Barry White playing, and I love–genuinely, not making fun of this, love–that naive little Willow just went with every romantic trope she’s ever heard in an attempt to get sexytimes. Barry White! She really just Googled “What is sexy?” and went with it.

Actually, haha, this was 1998! So she actually probably YAHOO’ED “What is sexy?”. REMEMBER YAHOO?

(My email address is still Yahoo. Whoops!)

Faith shows up at Buffy’s house for Christmas Eve after all, but Buffy quickly finds Angel in her bedroom acting all squirrelly. He sees Calendar’s ghost, and she’s all “Kiss The Girl”-ing him, so he DIVES OUT THE WINDOW to get away.

Buffy asks Faith to stay with mom while she goes off to deal with this, and… what is going on here? Last episode there was talk of “We have to include Faith”, but they didn’t. This episode makes a deal out of inviting Faith over, but as soon as she shows up, Buffy bails (she still gets to have Christmas Eve with mom, I guess). Are they going somewhere with this? Some kind of “Faith is excluded” storyline? With this show, I can never tell if something is building or if the writers are about to get distracted by a cat toy.

Buffy and Giles put together that The Bringers live under the dead Christmas trees, and fair play to that; I had actually forgotten all about those trees. Buffy finds the baddies and attacks, which brings out Calendar, who says she is The First Evil. She turns into a big monster thing, then vanishes. Ohhh, menacing!

Buffy rushes off to Angel, who is outside, waiting for the sun to rise so he can be rid of all of his troubles.

What comes next is the clip Boreanaz and Gellar sent to the Emmy’s for that year. They cry and fight and rage against the unfairness of the world. Angel just wants to die! Buffy doesn’t want him, too! Angel says “I WANT YOU SO BADLY”, and nope. You ain’t winning any Emmy’s for that, Dave. To be fair, it’s an awful line, and no actor was selling that shit. The writers are never doing any actors on this show that aren’t Seth Green any favors.

As their arguments wind down, it starts snowing. And, oh yeah, they mention half a dozen times this episode how insufferably hot it is, so this is the Christmas miracle!

Angel and Buffy stroll together through the empty-but-now-snow-covered streets of the town as a news report in the background says the cold front will stop the sun from rising, and I don’t think that weatherman understands how weather or earth’s rotation works.

And the show doesn’t mean “There will be intense cloud coverage”. That weatherman said what he said! When Buffy and Angel were on the overlook fighting, sunrise was minutes away. But as the show ends, they are in the middle of town, with a foot of snow, and it is still completely pitch black except for the street lights. Like, the cold is ACTUALLY stopping the sun from rising here.

This feels so much more perilous than half the threats they face from underground! Get on this, Giles! Read a book!

We are, charmingly, STILL not moving forward with a plot to this season, despite being just about at the halfway point. This whole season is just Monster Of The Week debacles. The writers clearly knew how utterly unthreatening The Mayor and Mr. Trick and Principal all are, so it is burying them for now. Smart!

Is The First being set up as a future major villain? Maybe in, like, Season Four? This feels like what Supernatural used to do where a bad guy is introduced as a plot point in one episode, then circled back to later. That has to be the case, right? I kind of want to look up that being and see if I’m right, but I will refrain!

Final thought: I still can’t believe they offed Cordelia in her own Its A Wonderful Life episode.