BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER
Buffy Summers -
Sarah Michelle Gellar
Rupert Giles -
Anthony Stewart Head
Willow Rosenberg -
Xander Harris -
Joyce Summers -
Cordelia Chase -
Wesley Wyndham Price -
Mayor Wilkins -
OTHER BUFFY SEASONS
OTHER VAMPIRE SHOWS
Season Three of BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER is the best yet as the show goes from strength to strength and continues to grow in quality and confidence. All of the elements that we have come to expect - the wit, the humanity, the cleverness and observation - are all present and correct whilst the cast are clearly having a great time and really are making the most of being given increasingly grown up things to do amongst all the the carnage.
The darkness within is the theme of the season so, whilst the big evil of the season is the Mayor who wants to be a big snake thing, many of the shows concentrate on the dark side that we all have. Giles becomes a dangerous rebel when he reverts to being a teen in Band Candy, Xander's fear of being a total loser almost gets him killed in The Zeppo, Willow is an evil vampire in Doppelgangland. Angel gets to face up to the evil that he has done in Amends and even Buffy's mother gets in on the act trying to burn her daughter in Gingerbread.
But the dark mirror is held up to Buffy most directly through the appearance of Faith, deliciously played by Eliza Dushku, a slayer who is wild and exciting, reckless and, ultimately, a killer with no conscience. Through her, we (and Buffy) see the path that she could have taken had she not been blessed with her friends. She also makes for a fine henchwoman to the Mayor. Mayor Richard Wilkins III is a wonderful creation, as likely to lecture on the importance of dental hygiene as planning the end of the world. He is wonderfully played by Harry Groener and provides a great deal of entertainment value without losing the all important scary factor.
There are very few misfires here and so many good episodes crammed with fabulous moments. We are blessed.Top
Following the traumatic events of the climax of season two, Buffy is found working as a waitress called Anne in a rundown section of a big city. There, she is recognised by a girl that she saved back in Sunnydale (Lie to Me) and is asked to find a missing boyfriend. Relucatantly, she agrees and finds that the boyfriend is now an old man. She further investigates and finds herself in a parallel dimension where she is destined to work out her life as a slave, whilst only minutes pass at home.
A terrific start to the third season that doesn't play down the emotional devastation Buffy has suffered, but also comes up with a new and original story with plenty of action. The only thing missing is the witty repartee because the gang back in Sunnydale spend the whole time wondering where Buffy is and hoping that she's OK rather than cracking jokes.
Sarah Michelle Gellar continues to impress with her ability to play the depth of the character's despair as well as the lighter, comedy view of Buffy.
Welcome back Buffy.Top
Dead Man's Party
Back at home, Buffy is finding it hard to pick up the disparate strands of her life, not least because all of her friends are still filled with anger at her for running away without a word and scaring them so much. These emotions bubble over at a party held to welcome Buffy back, but are swiftly resolved when a group of zombies summoned up by an old mask attack the house.
BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER is straight back into its stride with a story that is as much about the feelings of the characters as it is about ancient masks and zombies. The reactions of everyone are perfectly understandable and recognisable and show just what a fine show this has turned into.Top
Faith, Hope and Trick
There's a new slayer in town (so much for the introduction about 'she alone can stand against the vampires....' that used to start the show), this one called Faith, apparently called when Kendra was killed last season (Becoming-Part One). She's called Faith and seems as filled with life, energy and the thrill of slaying that the death of Angel has knocked out of Buffy. She is also being chased by an ancient vampire called Kakistos, a vampire that slaughtered her slayer.
Hello Faith, and Elisha Duzshku makes a hell of an impression as the apparently irrepressible newcomer with a zest for life and slaying. Xander's reaction to her is obvious and most male fans will echo it wholeheartedly. As for the rest, the plot is pretty lame and seems to be there solely to introduce Faith to the mix, so it looks like we might be seeing her again, hopefully for a while.Top
Beauty and the Beasts
A student is ripped to pieces and there are two candidates - Oz who is in full werewolf mode and was being watched by a sleeping Xander and Angel, mysteriously returned from his hell dimension in a state beyond reason.
OK, it had to happen sooner or later. This is a substandard episode of BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER with a, quite frankly, dull storyline and a script missing much of the wit and zing that we have come to expect from the show. Even so, it's a step up from most series' substandard episodes.Top
The end of the senior year is coming, SATs are just around the corner and the pressure is on. Cordelia is ramping up her quest to become the homecoming queen, but when she annoys Buffy once too often, she finds that she has a new rival in the race. There's another contest in town as well. Assassins are gathering to take part in Mr Trick's Slayerfest 98, the targets being two slayers, but fate intervenes to leave Buffy and Cordelia facing the music.
Back on song with a vengeance, this is a very entertaining episode that has lots of zest and action and still finds time for a little character development along the way. Buffy's yearning for a normal life is to the fore, but there is also an insight into Cordelia's need to be liked and popular and her relationship with Xander. He, however, has found a whole new level to his friendship with Willow, one that threatens to shatter the hopes of both Cordelia and Oz. There are sure to be broken hearts ahead.Top
Mr Trick is now working for the Mayor of Sunnydale and has roped in the talents of Ethan Rayne. A tribute is needed for a snake demon and in order to get that tribute, Sunnydale has to be turned upside down. The catalyst for this is the titular Band Candy that has the effect of sending adults back to their teenage years and revealing to an aghast Buffy what both her mother and Giles were like when they were her age.
Absolutely fantastic! Just about the best episode that the series has produced in the three seasons to date. It's a welcome return for Ethan Rayne as last season's Halloween was one of the best episodes there. Band Candy also sheds some more light on the character of the Mayor, turning into something of a major player this series and a delightfully bizarre character, as much at home lecturing on the importance of personal hygiene as sacrificing babies to snake demons.
The snake demon is the one let down in the episode, being less than a technical marvel in the execution and being very simply dealt with, creating a bit of an anticlimax, but that really wasn't the point of the episode and the rest of the show makes up for that one quibble.Top
Faith's new watcher arrives and makes everyone feel like little kids that haven't done their homework. Also arriving in town is a powerful demon looking for a magical glove capable of harnessing the lightning. The rest of the gang find out about Angel's return and are less than happy about it.
Just one episode after some seriously brilliant fun, here comes something of a revelation - Buffy can be by the numbers as well. The plot is so perfectly structured that you are more likely to be impressed by the structure than the content.Top
Spike rides back into town. Drusilla's dumped him and he's a broken down mess as a result. When he hits on the idea of a love spell, he goes one better and takes a witch instead, Willow. With their lives in the balance, she and Xander give in to their mutual attraction.
A big step up from Revelations, this is a quintessential BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER. There is lots of fun, some brilliant dialogue (mostly for Spike) and some real drama in the lives of the main characters as well. There are also some surprises, painful ones in the case of Cordelia.Top
Cordelia traces back the root of all her problems to Buffy and wishes that she had never come to Sunnydale. Thanks to the presence of vengeance demon Anyanka, she gets her wish and finds herself in a parallel Sunnydale where the vampires rule, the Master is free, Xander and Willow are vampires and, worst of all, she can't wear bright clothes.
Season three is ramping up to be the best one so far. To have an episode of the quality of Band Candy in a season is glorious, but to then add The Wish is gilding the lily to the point where it sinks. This is marvellous stuff. The parallel world is compelling and in many ways you're left wondering if there's any chance of a spin off series because this is a world at least as exciting as the normal Sunnydale.
Sarah Michelle Gellar gets to have a blast as the cynical, deadly alter-Buffy, Nicholas Brendon makes for a great vampire, but the stand out is Alyson Hannigan as the demon version of Willow, disturbingly sexy and, well, just plain disturbed.
It's episodes like this that put Buffy so far ahead of her peers.Top
Angel is being haunted by visions and dreams of past victims. When Buffy is dragged into one of those dreams, it becomes clear that this is not paranoia or regret, but the work of an ancient evil, perhaps the very one that brought him back from the demon dimension that Buffy sent him to.
A christmas episode of BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER seems somehow incongruous, but this is a class episode with the accent on character and emotion rather than special effects, tricks or games. This is Buffy writing at its best, so it's no surprise that Joss Whedon himself penned this episode. It has a depth that Buffy at its best does so well and other shows can only aspire to.Top
When two small children are slaughtered in a playground, the town of Sunnydale finally rises up against the occult. Giles's books are taken, Willow is imprisoned as a witch and Buffy's own mother drugs her. The fanaticism comes to a head at the school where Willow, Amy and Buffy are to be burned at the stake for witchcraft.
BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER at its best is not about monsters, demons and vampires. There may be demons causing all this chaos, but it is about good intentions gone bad, the horror that happens when what's right is sacrificed for what appears to be a greater good. It's a message that is always timely. OK, it gets a bit laboured when Nazi Germany gets namechecked, but on the whole this is a clever and witty story with some real depth to it.Top
Buffy loses all her strength when Giles drugs her without her knowing. She's 18 and the Watcher's Council have ordained that she must be tested. Stripped of her strength, she is to be imprisoned in a building with a crazed vampire to see if she has cunning and guile as well. When the vampire breaks free and takes Buffy's mother, things get a little out of hand.
Trust is a tricky thing. It's difficult to earn and once it's abused it can never be truly regained. The bond between Giles and Buffy is not just tested, but brought to breaking point. She survives but he's fired. It's what's going on beneath the surface here that matters, the performances from Sarah Michelle Gellar and Anthony Stewart Head hinting at far more than the writing suggests. Angel's declaration of love is a peice of appallingly oversweet writing, but is saved by a suitably pithy comeback.Top
Xander always seems to be the member of the gang that gets beaten up. He's no slayer, or witch, or werewolf, or watcher. When Cordelia teases him about it, he has no answer, but after a night when he joins a gang of the undead, sleeps with Faith, faces down a psycho killer and defuses a bomb saving the whole of the world (unbeknownst to the others) he finds the essence of cool is, in fact, self assurance.
Playing with the established format of a show is a tricky thing to pull off and this is an object lesson in how to do it right. Making Xander the centre of the show and putting everyone else (and the impending apocalypse) into the background is inspired and gives Nicholas Brendon a chance to show off his comic timing. The story zips along and is a lot of fun. The creature from the opening Hellmouth, however, never looks anything better than very fake.Top
Buffy is tempted by the free spirited ways of Faith's lifestyle when the new watcher turns up and proves to be even more dull and pompous than Giles was at the beginning. They face off against a grossly overweight demon out to prevent the Mayor's rise to power, but a human killed by Faith in the crossfire.
Since her arrival, Faith has rarely been a force in the show, disappearing from episodes at a time, but now she seems to be gaining more of a position, leading Buffy astray and committing the ultimate sin. It's a set up episode, but it will be interesting to see how this develops.Top
Faith tries to set Buffy up as the killer, but when nobody believes her and everybody tries to help, including the Watchers' Council who try to imprison her, she breaks out and decides to run.
There's dramatic meat in this episode for many of the characters, but it is still part of a story arc that doesn't stand up on its own very well. Buffy is still trying to help Faith whom she sees as a dark reflection of herself and Faith is rejecting every attempt to help her, each one forcing her closer to the dark side. Her last second offer to sign up to the Mayor's side is a real gut punch.
And spare a thought for poor Willow. Barely featuring in more than a couple of scenes, it is a testament to Alyson Hannigan that her breakdown in the girls' toilets when she learns that Xander slept with Faith is one of the most moving moments of the show. This really is quality stuff and it is definitely leading somewhere.Top
Anya, ex-vengeance demon and now high-school student asks Willow to help in a spell to get her amulet and powers back. Instead, they summon Vampire Willow from an alternate hell dimension. Whilst the gang mourn Willow's loss, the vampire Willow decides to fashion this world into a copy of her own.
Sequel to very fun episode The Wish, Doppelgangland is equally as much fun, especially thanks to Alyson Hannigan playing the role of Vampire Willow. Just as in the previous episode, she is so much fun that you can't help but want to spend more time with her than with everyone else. It's a funny, witty part and she plays it extremely well.
As for the rest, the plot is tightly drawn, the script is a delight of comic one-liners and real emotion (the scene where the gang mourn her loss just before she walks into the library moves from one to the other without missing a beat) and the characters get moments of progression. This is one of the very best episodes in a truly great season.Top
A demon offers to sell Buffy and Faith the books of Ascension, but the Mayor gets Faith to kill him before decisions can be made. She then turns her attention to Angel, looking to sleep with him and set Angelus free, not knowing that it is the happiness, not the sex, that is the issue here. She, it turns out, is not the only one betraying people.
OK, the truth is out, the battle lines are drawn. The Mayor will have his Ascension (still unclear) on Graduation Day and it will not go well for the world. The gang know that Faith's on the other side and she seems to revel in the role of bad girl. The events of the episode are more psychological than action orientated, but that is something that this show can cope with and it sets up a lot more fun to come we're sure.Top
After a fight with a pair of telepathic demons Buffy finds that she can hear the thoughts of those around her. This makes them more than a little uneasy, but matters turn a bit more serious when she hears someone thinking about killing everyone in the school and then falls ill when she can't shut out the babble of the telepathy.
The idea of telepathy overcoming the unprepared mind is pretty much standard stuff in science fiction, but rarely has it been treated with so much wit and fun as with this episode of BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER|. It all starts off light and funny and what Buffy learns about her mother and Giles is laugh out loud funny twice (see Band Candy), but as matters get more darker it gets more serious and the shooter in the bell tower subplot has immense bite considering the ongoing problems that the US is having campus shootings. It's all treated with respect and has an interesting slant on the causes of such events.
So, sharply topical and bright and breezy - that's a hard combination to pull off. Most shows wouldn't even try, but this is no ordinary show and whole new standards need to be employed after this.Top
Buffy decides to take the fight to the Mayor rather than reacting all the time and learns of a box that is vital to his plans for Ascension. Staging a break in at Town Hall, she gets the box, but Willow is captured by Faith. An exchange is planned, but is it fair to trade the life of one friend against those that might be lost in the Ascension?
Choices is the title and choices is what the episode is all about, but not until very close to the end. The rest of the episode is pretty ordinary (by BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER'S remarkably high standards), but then the questions arise about how much one life is worth and can you weigh one life against many? The Mayor's speech to Angel and Buffy about the future of their relationship shows the power of the truth, however unpleasant or meanly intended and Faith's realisation of what she has lost is keenly played.
We're getting closer to the end of the series and this is a setup episode leading towards the finale. As such, it doesn't really stand up on its own with many of the others, but as part of the ongoing story it is compelling stuff.Top
Graduation is growing ever closer, but before that there is the tradition that is the Prom. This means that the terror of being without a date, a dress, a witty remark are all at their highest. On top of that, someone has trained a hellhound to feast on anyone dressed in formal wear. Oh, and Angel just dumped Buffy (for her own good, of course).
The Prom is an American tradition that perhaps we in the UK don't get, although more and more schools are trying to introduce it. Thus, the whole stress of it and the importance that it seems to play in American life is lost for us, no matter how well, wittily and cleverly it is played. This doesn't mean that we can't enjoy the episode or some class moments (such as the reason(s) for the training of the hellhound).
In fact we have, by this point, invested enough in these characters to make what's important to them important to us. The time when Buffy is called up to the stage to be saluted by her class is a genuinely moving moment and you don't get many of those in series about demons and monsters.
The personal stuff is far more important than the tacked on tale of the hellhounds, which is barely thick enough to register, but these characters are fun enough to spend time with even when they are not in full on slayer mode.Top
Graduation Day - Part 1
Time is running out. The mayor's ascension is at hand and he can't afford any screw ups. In order to distract Buffy, Faith shoots Angel with a poisoned arrow. When the Watcher's Council refuses to help Angel, Buffy quits from having anything to do with them. There is a cure for the poison, but it's the blood of a slayer. Fortunately, Buffy knows where she can find a spare one.
The penultimate episode of any show is a set up for the finale and is, therefore, usually not one of the best, but this episode has as much plot, action and character development that you could possibly ask for, not to mention the usual quotas of witty lines and fine performances.
It also contains the full on fight between Buffy and Faith that's been brewing since the day that the dark slayer rode into town. And that doesn't disappoint.Top
Graduation Day - Part 2
With Faith gone, Buffy gives Angel what he needs, her own blood. Fortunately, he manages to stop himself before he drains her. She recovers and now she has a plan. The Mayor can be killed, though it's far too big a job for Buffy. She calls upon the entire graduating class to stand up for themselves for possibly the last time.
The main plot arc of the season comes to fruition as the Mayor is turned into a huge, badly matted, demon. The special effects here are pretty poor, especially considering the usual standard we have come to expect from the show. It is fortunate that the beastie isn't on screen for long enough to ruin the whole season.
Still, the whole of the final stand-off with the Mayor is a bit of a patchy affair. The manner of the victory is well-plotted, the character strings are neatly tied and there is plenty of action, but where did those flamethrowers come from? Still, the season as a whole has been great and we'll be back for any more without question.Top
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