BuffyWatch: Season 3, Episodes 16-18

Janes (a True Stan) and Nerdy Spice (a New Fan) are watching all of Buffy together and comparing notes. Warning: May contain spoilers for later episodes.

Season 3, Episode 16 “Doppelgangland”

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A Willow-centric episode! Sort of like Willow’s The Zeppo, but far more interesting. Willow is starting to get a complex about being the “good girl” all the time. Snyder basically forces her to tutor a dumb jock, who expects her to just do his homework for him. Giles asks her to drop everything to do research at the drop of a hat, and Buffy hits a nerve by calling her “Old Reliable.” Plus, her fashion choices have become 1000% more questionable since the previous episode, just in case you forgot she was nerdy:

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The only outlet for Willow’s nascent rebellious streak is magic (which is going to go so well in the long-term). But all she’s really doing right now is floating the fakest CGI pencil I’ve ever seen–not too satisfying. So when Anya, the now-powerless vengeance demon from “The Wish,” asks Willow to help her recover her “lost necklace” (AKA her power center), Willow jumps at the chance to do some “dark mojo.” Be careful what you wish for, Will. 

When they do the spell, which is supposed to create a “fold in time” and bring back the necklace from the moment it was lost, Willow sees flashes of that hellish parallel reality from “The Wish,” where the town is overrun by vampires and she and Xander are undead. This freaks her out, so she messes up the spell and pours the sacred sand stuff on herself instead of the necklace replica. When they finish, there’s no necklace. Anya is super upset, and Willow lectures her about how she shouldn’t do such dark magic and storms out.

Then we see that the spell did work–just not correctly. Instead of the necklace, Vamp Willow from the parallel universe has been conjured from the “moment she was lost,” aka when Oz killed her near the Bronze. She looks around in her dominatrix leather outfit, and says, “This is weird.” Whoops!

Vamp Willow wanders the streets of Sunnydale, hopelessly confused. Why are people on the streets in bright colors, at night no less? Why aren’t they cowering in their homes? She makes her way to the Bronze, presumably to find the Master, but instead finds the dumb jock, who tells “Willow” that she should be home doing his homework, because he “owns [her] ass.” Vamp Willow says, “Bored now” and throws him across the room. Hee! She finds Xander and starts feeling him up, but then gets very upset when she figures out he’s still human. Buffy joins them and asks Xander to introduce her to his “friend,” then says “Holy God you’re Willow.” Ha! She then spends like two full minutes calling her new look “extreme,” which–yes, it is, but also, could you let the girl live? Even if it was Willow, just let her wear some leather!

Vamp Willow is super hostile toward Buffy, which makes sense, but Buffy thinks she’s rebelling after the “Old Reliable” thing. “You didn’t have to prove anything,” she says (which, again, kind of condescending! Maybe Real Willow was onto something about how her friends treat her). Vamp Willow gets bored again and leaves, displaying her vamp face when Buffy tries to stop her. Buffy and Xander are shocked and heartbroken–they think Willow is dead.

They go back to the library and tell Giles, and there’s a sweet, funny little scene where they all earnestly mourn her, and then she walks in, back in her truly terrible sweater. “Hey guys,” she says. Xander tries to repel her with a cross, and then when they see she’s human, he and Buffy smother her with hugs. Willow, totally confused, looks to Giles for some rational behavior, but he hugs her even harder. Aw!! 

Meanwhile, Vamp Willow gets attacked by a bunch of other vamps who were sent by the Mayor to kill Willow (why does he want to kill Willow? Kind of unclear). She beats them down easily, and breaks their fingers until they start working for her. Awesome. She tells them they’re going to make everything “the way it was” in the other reality, starting with the Bronze. They take the Bronze hostage while Oz’s band is playing, and Oz tries to reason with Vamp Willow. She gets confused about why he’s talking to her so intimately (remember they didn’t know each other in the other reality), and Anya explains that he thinks she’s someone else. She offers to get Vamp Willow back to the other reality, but they need Regular Willow’s help. 

As everyone leaves to defuse the situation at the Bronze, Vamp Willow catches Regular Willow alone in the library. “Well look at me–I’m all fuzzy,” she says. She explains that Willow can help her get back to her own reality, but then says she likes the idea of “the two of [them],” and starts to get handsy. Whoa! Willow says, “This could not get more disturbing,” and she’s kind of right, she even licks herself at one point! When Willow turns down Vamp Willow’s invitation to “snuggle,” Vamp Willow gets angry, and Willow shoots her with a tranquilizer. The gang locks her up in the book cage (always a terrible idea. Always!), and Buffy says, re: the Bronze, “I have a really bad idea.” Cue evil twin hijinks.

Willow goes to the Bronze wearing the leather dominatrix outfit and tries to pass as Vamp Willow, channeling some of her own frustrations in the process. “She’s so weak and accommodating,” she says of the “other” Willow. “Always letting people walk all over, and then she gets cranky with her friends for no reason.” The idea is for her to trick a few vamps into going outside on their own so the Scoobies can take them out and thin their numbers, but yeah, it still seems super risky. Especially since Willow is not super stealth: she waves to Oz, and she encourages the vampires to let everyone go and “give them a 30-second head start.” 

Back at school, Vamp Willow is locked in the book cage, now wearing Willow’s horrible outfit. Cordelia finds her, and, thinking she’s Regular Willow, makes to let her out. But then, she decides that it would be more fun to “have a talk. Woman to woman. With [Willow] locked in a cage.” Ha! She then makes coffee for herself and has a long, one-sided discussion with Vamp Willow about the “ethics of boyfriend stealing.” Awesome. Finally, she decides to let Vamp Willow out, and she tries to eat her, but then Wesley saves her with some holy water and Vamp Willow slinks away. Cordelia is the only one who’s not particularly bothered that Willow is dead: she’s like, “Yeah, that’s a shame–are you doing anything tonight?” Never change, Cordy.

At the Bronze, Anya and the vamps quickly figure out that Willow is Regular Willow, so she uses the “signal”–screaming really loud–to get Buffy and the gang inside. They get the upper hand on the vampires, and Buffy almost stakes Vamp Willow, but Willow stops her at the last second. “This world’s no fun,” Vamp Willow complains. “You noticed that, too?” Willow says. All right, Willow.

They decide to send Vamp Willow back to her timeline, for–reasons? Because of Willow’s completely irrational wish to “give her a fighting chance”… to kill people? In the end, it doesn’t really matter, because the second she’s back in her world, she gets staked by Oz again. Well that was a waste of time.

On the plus side, dumb jock Percy is terrified of Willow now. I guess that makes it all worth it.


Notes from a New Fan:

  • Oh, yeah, Anyanka. What happened to her? I’d totally forgotten about her.
  • Wow, the CGI on this pencil that Willow is spinning with her mind powers is so unrealistic, I love it. 
  • So, if Willow loses control of her pencil and accidentally stabs a human instead of a tree, is Buffy gonna kidnap her and make Angel talk to her about not going to the Dark Side? (Although, I guess given that Evil Willow apparently becomes a thing later, from what I gather, maybe they should do that…)
  • Wow, Willow’s purse is very… sparkly. And fluffy. Sort of like My Little Pony meets astroturf.
  • The Mayor: “I’m a family man. Now, let’s kill your little friend.” Hee!
  • Where did Willow even find a giant pink sweater with a red square on the chest and three randomly placed butterflies and smiley faces appliqued on it and a chain of daisies glued to the neckline?Willow kneels on the ground looking cranky. Wears a pink chenille sweater with daisies around the neck, a red square in the middle, a smiley face, two daisies, and a butterfly appliqued to it.
  • I love Xander heroically “saving” Willow from the football player she was about to strangle.
  • Willow says that Evil Willow is kind of “gay” which is funny because actual Willow is gay. But is being attracted to yourself really gay?
  • Xander actually made me laugh making fun of Giles: “Can you believe the Watchers Council let this guy go?” 
  • Omg! Evil Willow turned Emma from Dawson’s Creek into a vampire!
  • Haha, I laughed so hard at Angel’s dramatic announcement that Willow was dead.
  • Willow is so bad at this. She WAVES AT OZ!
  • I missed Cordelia’s screaming. I love when she runs away from Willow screaming at the top of her lungs.
  • Ewww, Wesley, stop getting all pant-y and horny around Cordelia the HIGH SCHOOL STUDENT.
  • Wait, they’re sending Evil Willow back to the alternate reality? Doesn’t that mean that a bunch of extra people who do exist somewhere will be killed? Also, is Giles’ triumph when he took Anya’s necklace and restored “this” world kind of hollow now that we know the horrible other world just kept on going?

Notes from a True Stan: 

  • So wait, did destroying Anya’s power center reverse all of her wishes? Shouldn’t the world be different in like a hundred different ways?
  • After all that drama from Consequences, the Watcher’s Council is just making Buffy and Faith take a bunch of personality tests? So weird.
  • My partner and I are watching Jessica Jones right now, and every time Faith comes on screen, he says, “She could have been Jessica.”
  • The Mayor sets Faith up in some fancy digs, and they’re already starting to form a father-daughter type of rapport. This relationship brings me so much joy.
  • Giles, mourning Willow: “She was truly the finest of all of us.” Xander: “Better than me.” Giles: “Much, much better.” Giles is the best.
  • I love how weird and kinky Vamp Willow is. Why does she lick people?
  • OMG I love that moment where Willow says re: Vamp Willow: “I’m so evil. And skanky. And I think I’m kinda gay,” and Buffy reassures her that the vampire’s personality has nothing to do with the person it was, and Angel’s like, “Well, actually…” Ha! Do you think they had already decided to make Willow gay at this point?
  • Vamp Willow wakes up wearing the terrible pink sweater, looks at herself, and says, “Oh, this is like a nightmare.” Hee!
  • Alyson Hannigan is such a great actress. Vamp Willow’s mannerisms and voice are so vastly different from Regular Willow’s, even when she’s wearing that dumb sweater.
  • Cordelia is wearing a full glittery clubbing dress at school, presumably to seduce Wesley. Respect?Screen Shot 2020-04-18 at 6.12.34 PM
  • Willow says she “can’t bring herself to kill [Vamp Willow],” and it’s like–well, yeah let Buffy do it! And then Buffy says she can’t do it either, because Vamp Willow looks like Willow I guess, but she was willing to kill her boyfriend not too long ago! 

Season 3, Episode 17 “Enemies”

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So Buffy and Angel are kinda dating, in that they go on dates, and kiss, but can’t have sex (or, as Faith puts it, “Close but no cigar”). I’m confused! But anyway, Buffy and Faith (who’s been put back on duty by the Council who presumably don’t know that she went to the dark side) encounter a scrubby demon who offers them access to the Books of Ascension. He asks for $5K. Buffy is curious because it might help them “pin the Mayor down” and figure out all about this scary Ascension Day he’s planning. Naturally, Faith would prefer to kill the demon, considering that she’s secretly working for the Mayor, but Buffy wins. Of course, Faith immediately reports all this to the Mayor.

Buffy, on the other hand, reports to Wesley and the gang. Giles finds a diary of someone named Desmond Kane that references the Ascension. The entire town disappears from history immediately afterwards. Not a good sign.

Faith finds the demon on her own, checks out the books, and then STABS HIM. Omg! Now Faith has gone bad. I mean, I guess the demon’s not human, but still, this demon was kind of pathetic and clearly harmless. I bet Buffy will wish that she hadn’t freaked out and kidnapped Faith over a little thing like accidentally killing a human, because now she has no space left for a proportionally larger reaction to the fact that Faith has teamed up with an evil Mayor and is killing wimpy demons instead of paying them for their demonic goods.

Speaking of people who have kidnapped Faith, then she goes to Angel!! To tell him she’s in trouble! Isn’t she worried he’s going to tie her up and make Buffy talk to her? Omg wait, I think she’s trying to seduce him to get between him and Buffy. She’s even more evil than I thought! And though Angel turned her down with ease, Buffy stops by just in time to witness Faith giving Angel a lingering kiss on the cheek.

Yep, it turns out that the Mayor has sent Faith to try to seduce him to give him one moment of true happiness. (Does it count as true happiness if it’s just a hookup? Is every orgasm a moment of true happiness? And in that case, does Angel not jerk off? …Wow, I just went to a place in my mind that I really regret. Yuck.) Anyway, the Mayor says something super creepy about not understanding what Angel could be thinking by turning Faith down. Ewwww. Also, the Mayor determines that if they can’t take away Angel’s soul by giving him happiness, they’ll have to do it in a more painful way. 

Xander actually decides to be helpful in a way that doesn’t involve him talking to a pretty girl. Very out of character. But anyway, he gets the demon’s address. Buffy wants to go alone because she’s pissed about the Lingering Cheek Kiss, but Wesley insists that she and Faith should go together. It’s unclear why–maybe because he just exists to thwart everything that everyone wants? Anyway, they go together, with Buffy remaining frosty and distant. When they find the demon, Buffy remarks that it looks like someone had “a party” killing him, and Faith protests that he might have put up a fight. Not so good at being stealth, this one. 

The Mayor calls upon a red-eyed demon wearing what looks like… well, a burqa, but IMDB is calling it a “shroud,” so OK, sure. The Shrouded Demon warns the Mayor that he can rob Angel’s soul but that it’s kind of a big job. The Mayor is not concerned.

Meanwhile, Buffy tells Willow what she saw, but Willow flat-out doesn’t believe her that Angel would cheat on her with Faith. When it comes out that Buffy didn’t even ask Angel what had happened, Willow just sends her on her way to have a straightforward talk with him! Go, Willow.

But Faith gets there first, and she pretends to apologize just well enough to get the–fairly gullible–Angel to grab her shoulders to reassure her that she’s not a shitty person. For some reason this allows Faith to throw pig’s blood or something on him so they can do the spell, even though I feel like she could’ve done that without the whole apology rigmarole. Anyway, then the demon just… does the spell and turns Angel into Angelus. It’s surprisingly undramatic, considering it happens in the middle of the episode and there’s no huge race against the clock to save Angel or anything. So I mean, no way this lasts, right? [Spoiler: I was right!] But Angel sure does look like Angelus now. He alternately fights and makes out with Faith, and agrees to be introduced to “the real power in this town.” There’s also some bizarre lasciviousness about Faith “wiggling” that I won’t go into.

Next thing you know, the gang minus Angel and Faith–but with Cordelia, not that she’s very focused on anything but trying to seduce Wesley–gather in the library. Giles totally takes over the meeting, because Wesley is useless. Not sure if that’s an inherent characteristic or if the proximity of Cordelia simply reduces him to jello, but the point is, Giles is in charge and it’s great. He sends Buffy to try to find the Books of Ascension in the Mayor’s office, and the rest of the gang to look for information in the Hall of Records. Xander, perhaps bitter over the prospect of watching his ex fawn over Wesley and the girl he cheated on his ex with fawning over her rad boyfriend, bows out.

Faith brings Angelus to talk to the Mayor, and it gets a little awkward because Angelus thinks he’s in charge, and the Mayor thinks he is. When Angelus throws a letter opener at his heart and the Mayor neatly catches it in his hand because he’s “impervious,” Angelus backs down. Then he offers to torture, maim, and kill the Slayer that’s been giving the Mayor so much trouble. This is when I really start to suspect he hasn’t been turned–like maybe he’s just pretending so he can double-agent the Mayor. [Spoiler: yep, still right!]

Faith and Angelus go off to hunt for Buffy and find her in her room (they are invited in by the ever-useless Joyce). They tell her that the books are in the Mansion (poor Buffy does not look excited about the “we” pronouns they’re using throughout this bit) and once she gets there, Angel whips out his Angelus fangs and starts threatening Buffy. God love her, she tells Faith they have to get out of here. Poor Buffy. She is SO TRUSTING. Like mother, like daughter, I guess!

So then things get exciting. Faith and Angel tie up Buffy and Faith starts threatening to torture her, and to have Angel torture her (complete with an extensive, early-seasons-of-24-level collection of torture implements) and–worst of all!–makes out with him enthusiastically while Buffy looks on in pain. Faith gets way up in Buffy’s grill with a knife and complains that she’s done her job and yet all she hears about is how she should be more like Buffy.

Suddenly, though, before Faith can do any real damage, Angel reveals he’s been acting the whole time–and he and Buffy start fighting Faith. Just then the gang busts in, since Xander has told them that Evil Angel is back. Luckily, no one is on the ball enough to kill Angel in that early moment of confusion, since it seems like it would be pretty hard to be sure that Angel and Faith weren’t fighting on the same side. But anyway, Faith gets overpowered, but Buffy can’t bear to kill her. So Faith kisses her on the forehead and runs out. Later, we learn that the demon guy owed Giles a favor from Giles’s former bad-boy life, so the whole ceremony he did was secretly staged for Faith’s benefit. (Giles conveniently wasn’t around when Xander led the crew to save Buffy from Angelus.)

Then–because it hurt her too much to see him making out with Faith–Buffy goes and tells Angel she needs a break. Good Lord, it’s hard to keep track with these two.

–Nerdy Spice

Notes from a New Fan:

  • So, Buffy and Angel just go to see sexy French movies together now? Are they dating? I’m so confused.
  • Ew, Buffy and Angel talking about Angel getting “worked up,” aka horny, is kind of… gross.
  • Wait, so … they can kiss now?
  • Everything about this confuses me.
  • The Mayor says he wishes Faith would pull her hair back because she has such a nice face. Such a parental thing to say! And yet, from the Mayor, it just sounds creepy AF. 
  • Also, he feeds her a glass of milk… from a pitcher that’s been sitting out. I’m sorry, isn’t he a germophobe? Any proper germophobe would leave the milk in the fridge until the last possible moment before drinking it.
  • Giles eats a banana in the corner and snarks about demons not having “standards” since they’re asking for cold hard cash. He’s like a teenager now. When is he going to be un-fired?
  • Xander hears that there are hidden books in Giles’ book cabinet and immediately asks if there are pornographic engravings of nymphs in them. WHAT? God, Xander is the WORST. As Janes pointed out, they already have the internet. Just go look up some dirty nymph fanart and leave the rest of us alone.
  • Speaking of creepers, Wesley needs to stop being visibly in the grip of a paroxysm of lust every time Cordelia is in the room, and tell her no, he’s not going to go on the most obvious surprise date anyone has ever invited him on.
  • Faith stabs the demon and then stares at the blood on her hands. Gee… do you think it’s a symbol?
  • When turning Faith down, Angel says, “I’m with Buffy.” Oh, OK, so they are together. It’s kind of hard to keep track!
  • I love how beautifully Giles handles Xander’s request for reimbursement for the bribe he paid to get the demon’s address. “Did you get a receipt?” he asks very calmly. Thwarted, Xander gives up. Hee!
  • Buffy and Faith totally leave as soon as they discover the dead demon without even CHECKING to see if the books are still in his apartment. I understand that we know they aren’t, but Buffy doesn’t know that! Why doesn’t she check? So weird!
  • Why is Willow wearing an overall over her sweater? I understand they’re called over-alls, but I don’t think that was intended quite so literally! What if you get hot and need to take the sweater off? It makes no sense!
    Willow and Oz sit in the library. Willow is wearing a yellow shirt, a thick orange sweater, and overalls OVER the sweater.

    Even Oz looks pretty dubious about this outfit.


  • The Mayor reads the poetry in Reader’s Digest. That’s bleak.
  • Angelus notes that the Mayor is impervious, yet a germophobe. I had that exact same question!
  • Xander sees Faith and Angelus on their way to hunt down Buffy and yells excitedly at them. Angelus just punches him so hard he flops to the ground. “That guy just bugs me,” he says to Faith. Hee! This is by far the most I’ve ever liked Angel.
  • Speaking of which, have I mentioned that I still can’t get used to the fact that it’s pronounced “ANNE-jell-us” instead of “Anne-JELL-us” like I always thought? I had read the name in the descriptions of fanvids and stuff and just assumed I knew how to pronounce it. [Wait, I think you were right the first time! –Janes]
  • God, Mrs. Buffy is so dumb. Angel silkily compliments her new hair and she just smiles to herself instead of wondering why her daughter’s boyfriend is turning on the charm.
  • Why does Angel offer to carry Buffy’s bag of weapons for her? Why does she let him? She has super Slayer strength and she might need those weapons. It’s not like she’s a regular ninety-pound girl who wants her boyfriend to carry her suitcase for her.
  • Willow’s coat is actually great. I don’t know why she’s wearing it inside, but, maybe she realizes it’s way better than whatever outfit she’s concocted underneath.Willow sits in the library with Cordelia and Wesley. She has on a giant, fluffy shearling coat with stuff appliqued to it.
  • I couldn’t figure out what I knew the Shrouded Demon’s voice from, so I looked him up, and discovered that a) I didn’t know him from anywhere and b) apparently, in 1990, this happened. Let’s just say that cover does not give me faith that the movie was in keeping with the feminist spirit of the book. Jesus.
  • Is Buffy breaking up with Angel because he participated in her plan to defeat Faith and did too good a job? Jeez, these two. At the beginning of the episode I didn’t even realize they were officially back together and now she wants a break — they’re like Ryan and Marissa, there’s so much drama!

Notes from a True Stan:

  • “I have a paper to write for English, and… you’re English… so…” is my new favorite pick-up line. I wish early Wesley weren’t so gross though.
  • Faith says re: the blood on her hands: “It’s not human, not that that makes me feel any better.” Um, doesn’t it though? It’s a Slayer’s job to kill demons.
  • I do always like that Faith gets a little offended at the idea that the demon’s killer was “having a party.” “Maybe the guy put up a fight,” she says, defensively.
  • I hate that Willow gets all slut-shamey whenever a girl gets near Xander. “Does Angel live up to Faith’s standards for a guy?” she asks, cattily. “Let’s see, is he–breathing?” Willow’s the worst sometimes. 
  • Okay, I see what happened. Buffy actually was worried about Faith and Angel when she talked to Willow, and then she went to talk to Angel, and they concocted this plan. But how did they glean that Faith was working for the Mayor, just because she was trying to seduce Angel? Not to join in on Willow’s slut-shaming, but that’s not exactly out of character for her.
  • Faith and Angel have… pretty good chemistry? They’re a lot more interesting than Buffy and Angel, that’s for sure.
  • Aw, David Boreanaz is having fun again.
  • Angel punches out Xander for his “cover,” but I bet it was at least a little bit just for fun.
  • I love that Faith interpreted her arrival in town as “everyone could only ever talk about Buffy,” when Buffy spent that whole period jealous of Faith. They really are like sisters.
  • I always get chills when Angel says, “Second best.” So good.
  • So Giles guessed that the Mayor would call upon this specific demon, who just happened to owe him a favor? This whole plan seems pretty contrived and extra, but the episode is so entertaining, it’s hard to care.
  • “Miniature. Golf.” Hee!
  • Ugh, this is one of Bangel’s silliest non-breakups yet. She’s mad at him because he did exactly what she asked him to do? Come on, Buffy.
  • Angel asks Buffy if she’s still “his girl.” Ew, what? He’s 241 years old, why is he talking like he’s about to give her a Letterman jacket?

Season 3, Episode 18 “Earshot”

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We open on Buffy fighting a couple of ugly, mouthless demons in the park and making snarky comments, as per uzhe. She kills one of them, but then its glowy blue blood gets on her hand, and is immediately absorbed like a moisturizer commercial. Uh, oh. 

The next day, her hand is all itchy, and Giles tells her that she might be “infected” with an “aspect” of the demon, or it might be “new laundry detergent.” Helpful. When she expresses anxiety about growing a “demon part,” Willow asks, “Was it a boy demon?” Also unhelpful. Then she runs into Angel, and they’re still awkward after that whole pretending-to-be-evil thing. He tries to reassure her that nothing will happen, and then finishes it with, “I’ll still love you, even if you’re covered in slime.” No one is being helpful!

As it turns out, Buffy doesn’t grow a tail, or any other physical part of a demon. Instead, she can hear other people’s thoughts. Like Mel Gibson, except not sexist and terrible. She hears Xander thinking jealous thoughts about Cordelia and Wesley, a guy thinking gross, pervy thoughts about her, and a teacher thinking, “If we could just get rid of all the students” (heh). She tells Giles, and he’s somehow skeptical (even though he literally just told her she was going to grow an aspect of the demon, and also it’s Sunnydale and also can everyone just start believing Buffy please??), so she says, “When I walked in here, you thought, ‘Look at those shoes. If a fashion magazine told her to, she’d wear cats strapped to her feet.’” Hee! 

At first, Buffy is kind of psyched about this, like it’s just a fun new Slayer power. Or, more accurately, Giles thinks it will be tactically advantageous, and Buffy wants to use it to steal all the answers from a studious girl in class. (Uh, rude!) They’re studying Othello, so we’re treated to that classic 90s WB trope where the homework relates exactly to what’s going on in the character’s lives. The teacher goes on a long awkward rant about how we all have “internal Iagos” that whisper paranoid things in our ears about our loved ones, and then says, “We can never really see what’s in someone else’s heart.” Except Buffy! See what they did there?

Buffy is inspired by this inspirational lecture to go see Angel and use her new power to figure out once and for all if he was secretly attracted to Faith. (Wait, that’s what she’s upset about? I thought it was all about him pretending not to have a soul. Also–not cool, Buffy!) Unfortunately for Buffy, she can’t invade his privacy because her new power doesn’t work on vampires. “It’s like the mirror,” Angel says, “the thoughts are there, but they create no reflection in you.” Which is a totally lame and convenient explanation, but I’m glad that Buffy has to do the hard thing, and–um, have a conversation with her boyfriend. She tells him she feels insecure about Faith, and he reassures her that he’s “lived a long time” and has been with “dozens” of girls like Faith (not super reassuring so far!), but he’s past it, and now he wants the good girl. That’s sweet–or in the general neighborhood of sweet.

Right after Angel tells her that there could be a dark side to her new power, Buffy quickly starts to see the dark side of her new power. Her friends are uncomfortable that she can hear all of their thoughts, especially Willow, who’s threatened that Buffy knows Oz’s thoughts when Willow doesn’t, and Xander, who literally only thinks about naked girls (quel surprise), including Buffy. Ew! Why is she still friends with him? The power also starts to take a toll on Buffy mentally: as time goes on, she starts to hear more and more people’s thoughts, until a trip to the cafeteria is deafening. In the pandemonium, she hears an unidentified voice think to themselves, “This time tomorrow, I’ll kill you all.” 

Most terrifyingly of all, Buffy hears her mother thinking about her deepest darkest secret: “You had sex with Giles?!” Buffy screams as Joyce tries to explain about the band candy. “On the roof of a police car? Twice??” Hee!

Buffy rests at home while the gang investigates who the voice belonged to. Willow dusts off her interrogation skills that she used in “Go Fish”–interviewing Jonathan, again!–but no one seems to be a likely candidate, except for the super pretentious newspaper editor, Freddy, who writes headlines like “Apathy on the Rise, No One Cares,” and columns about cheerleaders being “pseudo-prostitutes.” (Honestly, they should murder him even if he’s not the culprit.) The Scoobies gang up on him and accuse him of making the threat, but it turns out he was only hiding from them because he wrote that Oz’s band played like they had “sausages taped to their fingers.” Buffy arrives–after a gross but very convenient cure where Angel force-feeds her the mouthless demon’s heart–just as they find that Jonathan (!) sent the newspaper an ominous note: “By now you all know what I have done… And while death is never easy, it’s the only way.” Dark!

They split up to find him, and Buffy sees him loading a big-ass rifle up in the clock tower. (Sunnydale High has a clock tower? Fancy.) Buffy does a cool trick where she runs up the railing of the school steps and bursts into the clock tower. She tries to talk Jonathan down, and even does the hostage negotiator trick of saying his name a bunch of times, but he says, “Stop talking to me like we’re friends. You all think I’m an idiot. A short idiot.” He says she, being “beautiful and athletic,” could never understand his pain, and she schools him: “My life happens to, on occasion, suck beyond the telling of it. Sometimes more than I can handle.” And since she just spent an entire episode listening to a running soundtrack of teen angst, she tells him with authority that everyone else around him is having a hard time, too. “Every single person down there is ignoring your pain because they’re too busy with their own.” Eventually, she tells him softly that she could have taken the gun by now, but she’d rather him give it to her willingly. He does, and she thinks all is well, but then he tells her that he wasn’t there to kill other students, just himself. Poor Jonathan!

Back in the lunch room, Xander sneaks into the back of the lunchroom to steal Jell-O and eat it with his bare hands (why? Just why?), and finds the lunch lady pouring rat poison into the food. (In case you’re wondering how I know it’s rat poison, it’s a giant box that says “RAT POISON” in giant letters.) He runs around the lunch room, upending all the tables, and the lunch lady tries to murder him with a cleaver. Oh shit! Buffy gets there in time, and easily punches her out. 

All is well, for real this time, and Buffy’s happy she got to help someone in a “non-slaying capacity.” Jonathan is doing okay, and is starting to give Buffy the googly eyes like he wants to ask her to prom, but she’s not having it. “What am I, Saint Buffy? He’s like three feet tall!” Aw. 


Notes from a New Fan:

  • Ha, when Buffy did the “run and stumble” to trap the demon, I thought to myself, “How does she not know to look out for that swingset pole while she’s running?” I should’ve known it was a ruse. Silly me.
  • Aw, Buffy got “infected” by a demon. How timely!
  • It’s endearing that the cheerleaders are all wearing sweaters when it’s clearly late spring and the rest of the kids are wearing light sweaters.
  • I admit I laughed out loud when Willow suddenly got worried Buffy was going to grow a demon penis as a result of her infection.
  • I also laughed when Angel deduced, after Buffy JUST TOLD him that she wanted a break from him and got incredibly hostile as soon as he mentioned Faith, “Something’s bothering you.” Yeah. You think?
  • I also like Angel’s line, “I won’t let anything happen to you… if I can help it.” Way to not overpromise, Angel.
  • Willow: “Buffy did the reading?” Ouch. “Buffy understood the reading?” Ouch!!! But, hee.
  • Hmm… are we sure Buffy’s powers don’t work on Angel or is it possible he just has no thoughts?
  • “I’ve been with dozens of girls like her” is… not usually the way to assuage someone’s jealousy. Nice try, Angel.
  • The contrast between Oz’s hilariously deep pothead musings of “I am my thoughts, therefore Buffy contains me and I don’t exist” and Xander’s “I think about sex constantly. Sex. Help!” is hilarious. Also, I love that Xander thinks that Buffy wasn’t already aware that he thinks about sex every second of every day. If he wanted to hide it, maybe he should stop being such an effing CREEPER all the time!
  • I know that Willow has computer skills and all, but wouldn’t it be better for them to just try to get the school shut down till they find the murderer instead of trying to haphazardly recreate Silence of the Lambs in 24 hours?
  • Poor Jonathan. He’s like the punching bag of the show. Now everyone even thinks he’s the killer!
  • Ah, so, it’s hilarious that Joyce tries not to let Buffy realize that she slept with Giles, but this puts the lie to my pet theory that they’ve been secretly sleeping together this whole time. Boo.
  • This is a fun episode and all, but like, we definitely have known Freddy Iverson was the bad guy of the episode since the minute he had that weird thought about the kids begging for breadcrumbs, right? He sounds sort of like a 4chan kid who’s been reading Ayn Rand. [Whoops, turns out I was wrong!]
  • Oh wow, it IS Jonathan! That’s crazy! [ETA: Ok, no it’s not. Tricked again!]
  • Shouldn’t Buffy get everyone out of the courtyard before going after Jonathan? This climbing up the stair railing + backflipping onto the roof thing is cool but it seems to waste a lot of time.
  • Xander discovers the real killer… while eating Jello WITH HIS HANDS. What is wrong with this person.
  • I like how Buffy waits and whips out her knowledge of Giles sleeping with her mom till the best possible moment.

Notes from a True Stan:

  • This first fight is really awkwardly edited. There are like, three shots of Buffy just sort of looking at them while she raises a knife in the air.
  • You know, I always thought that Oz’s joke about “skipping to the obits” in the school paper was just an Oz joke, but knowing Sunnydale, they probably do need an obits section in the school paper.
  • Ew, Xander goes on a rant about how there are so many “healthy young women” around, and he doesn’t know why he ever “wasted his time” on Cordy. As if he could ever get anyone better! Ugh, actually, it’s a TV show, so he ends up dating way above his station several more times.
  • Wesley is sort of like the TV version of Pierce Brosnan.
  • Love the newspaper kid’s “profound” thoughts: “Look at them, scrambling for approval like pigeons for old bread crusts… Bread crusts. That’s deep. I should write that down.”
  • Willow explains this kid to Buffy with a pithy, “He’s sardonic.” Is that the right word??
  • I love that it takes Buffy like, five minutes to figure out that she can’t hear Angel’s thoughts. Did she think he just didn’t have thoughts most of the time?
  • Oz’s thoughts are the best: “I am my thoughts. If they exist in her, Buffy contains everything that is me, she becomes me. I cease to exist.” Then he says, out loud, “Hm.” Love.
  • Wesley makes a speech about how they’ll all be thinking about what they least want Buffy to hear, as he has pervy thoughts about Cordelia. Gross! All the men are gross.
  • Cordelia thinking exactly what she’s about to say is an easy gag, but funny.
  • Xander tells Cordelia re: her obvious lust for Wesley that she “has no shame,” and she answers, “Oh please, like shame is something to be proud of?” She’s such a treasure.
  • Okay, I know that we talk about how terrible Xander is every episode, but seriously–why is he hitting on random girls when he’s supposed to be investigating a potential mass murder?? He makes it too easy.
  • Larry is out now! So out, he’s “having [his] grandmother set him up with guys.” Meanwhile Xander still can’t even bring himself to say the word “gay,” because he’s the worst person in the world.
  • Buffy’s wearing sweatpants! Is this the first time we’ve seen her in a slaying-appropriate outfit?
  • I love that Jonathan doesn’t question her when she says she could have easily taken his gun. I guess they’ve all just accepted that she’s freakishly strong? God knows she doesn’t hide it very well.
  • I know it’s corny, but I always find the scene with Jonathan kind of touching.
  • A piece of trivia: this episode was scheduled for April of 1999, but the Columbine attacks happened that same week, so it didn’t air, for obvious reasons. It was eventually aired, out of sequence, sometime during the fourth season.

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