Drinks Taken: 28
Vamps Dusted: 0
Follow the whole rewatch here!
We discussed in the comments last week how some of us were surprised by the unevenness of season 3 (having remembered it differently), but I think starting with the previous Doppelgangland episode that we’re now moving upwards in the right direction. This week’s episodes may not the flashiest, but they are 85-ish minutes of solidly good Buffy.
The Buffy Season Three Drinking Game Rules
Drink once every time:
A vamp is dusted
A scene takes place in a cemetery
Cordelia says something cutting but true
Principal Snyder hates on students
Oz is ridiculously low-key cool
Spike has mad swagger
Willow gets witchy
You roll your eyes at Faith
The Mayor is a germaphobe
Drink twice every time:
We see the entrance to Sunnydale High
Giles drinks tea
Jonathan appears in a scene
There’s an extremely outdated pop culture reference
A vampire is invited into a house
Someone wears leather pants
It’s gonna be a twisty turny ride, so keep your eyes peeled and your ears clear.
Buffy and Angel inadvertently spent date night watching what sounds like a very sexy movie, which makes Buffy feels bad since they can never bone. Faith interrupts to take Buffy on patrol, where they run into a not-very-scary demon slling the Books of Ascension for a cool 5K. As Faith is now the Mayor’s henchwoman, she immediately runs to her boss and is tasked with acquiring the books.
While Buffy gets her own marching orders from Wesley, Faith stops by the demon’s apartment and gives him a bellyful of steel in exchange for the books. She isn’t expecting him to put up a fight, so between the extra stabby-stabbys and his corpse collapsing on top of her, she’s suddenly feeling a little fragile.
Faith heads straight to Angel’s and asks if he was serious about trying to help her be, you know, less murdery, because she’s starting to scare herself. Angel is supportive, but, uh, perhaps TOO MUCH SO, because Faith goes in for a lingering hug and a kiss. Angel stops her, saying, “I can be here for you, but not like that. I’m with Buffy.” Speaking of the #1 Slayer (yeah, Faith, I said it), Buffy happens to witness Faith and Angel being all chummy, so she immediately tucks tail and runs.
Don’t fret, Buff. Save us the time and just go kick her boyfriend-stealing butt now.
Y’all, we know Faith is up to something, because there’s NO way she would’ve taken rejection that well unless ulterior motives were involved. And they were! Mayor Wilkins tasked Faith to seduce the soul right outta Angel. He gives a good ole Dad-like pep talk after she fails: “What could that boy be thinking?!” Since Faith can’t come close to offering Angel true happiness, they decide to steal his soul the good old-fashioned way: magic.
Meanwhile, Xander paid bartender Willie for the location of the demon’s apartment (down by the bus station, which Giles finds abhorrent: “See? No standards. Any self-respecting demon should be living in a pit of filth or a nice crypt.”) so Wesley sends Faith and Buffy to get the books. Buffy, sickened, finds the demon’s dead body as an anxious Faith looks on.
At their favorite study spot, Buffy and Willow have a heart-to-heart about Buffy’s concerns over Faith and Angel. Willow reasonably questions if Buffy spoke to Angel about her worries, but Buffy is a teenage girl on a TV show, so of course she hasn’t. Willow’s such a great friend in this moment, reassuring Buffy that Angel has only ever had eyes for her: “Buffy, I, too, know the love of a taciturn man, and you have to look at their actions.” “I was,” Buffy retorts glumly.
Faith goes back to Angel’s again, spouts some stuff about him not trusting her, then tosses blood on him. A blue, turbaned demon-magician slinks in from the shows, performs a fancy light show, and rips Angel’s soul from him. He’s back to Angelus! Le gasp! Then the first thing Angelus does is grabs Faith and kisses her. Le ew!
The kissing doesn’t last long, as Angelus’ true interest is kicking the snot out of Slayers, so he roughs Faith up until she actually looks concerned with what she’s created. She convinces him to play nice and takes him to Mayor Wilkins. Angelus isn’t super impressed until he witnesses the Mayor’s healing powers and learns he was brought back to torture and kill Buffy. He and Faith head down the road to go find her when Xander walks up and this happens:
Angel: *punches Xander* “That guy just bugs me.”
I know I’m supposed to feel outraged, but…this is kind of glorious. We should just use this gif whenever Xander says something dumb.
So Xander runs right to the Scooby Gang and (rather gleefully, I must add) tells them Angelus is back and that “he told them so.” STFU, Xander. They gather up weapons to go and take care of a vampire problem.
Angel and Faith lure Buffy to the mansion with promises of the Books of Ascension. Angel turns his vamp face on her, which is, of course, devastating for Buffy. You can’t help but see her terror at the thought of Angelus returning. Faith goes all in on the gloating and is truly her own worst enemy; she pouts that Buffy has all the friends, the accolades, and loving parent and Watcher, and that even when Faith tries her “best” she’s never good enough. “Do you think you’re better than me? Do you?” Faith rages.
Faith: “Say it! You think you’re better than me.”
Buffy: “I am. Always have been.”
Stone cold, Buffy, but SO DAMN TRUE.
Faith throws Angel in Buffy’s face, but Buffy is unflappable, which infuriates Faith further. She makes that villain mistake and monologues, revealing important information she shouldn’t: “No one can stop the Ascension. Mayor’s got it wired, B. He built this town for demons to feed on, and come Graduation day, he’s gettin’ paid.” Then this happens, and we all breathe a sigh of relief, because, honestly, no one wants to go through an Angelus stage again:
Turns out, after Faith’s little performance at Angel’s, he and Buffy got suspicious and concocted this ruse. The demon-magician was an acquaintance of Giles’ and performed the light show sans actual magic, so Angel never actually lost his soul. Buffy and Faith exchange blows, but Buffy, ever the more tender-hearted one, can’t bring herself to actually kill Faith, so Faith escapes.
Xander is bitter that Angel’s acting meant his jaw took one for the team (honestly I’m going to pretend that Buffy had previously told Angel about how Xander had lied about Willow failing to get his soul back, so that punch was retribution). “He was only acting, Xander. It was just an act,” Buffy assures him, but the look on her face tells us she’s trying to convince herself too.
She stops by the mansion, where Angel is brooding up against the fireplace, and tells him she knows he only pretended to be Angelus because she asked him to, but that ultimately it was too triggering for her, and she needs a break to get her head on right. Angel is quietly devastated, but he understands. As she walks away, he sadly asks, “You still my girl?” Buffy turns and, with her voice breaking, responds, “Always,” before leaving.
I know Angel ultimately breaks up with Buffy in a few episodes, but this always felt, to me, like the moment they were really, truly over. With their piano love theme sadly plinking along in the background (no shade; I actually love the song), Buffy’s decision to step away from Angel for her own mental health feels so mature. I think it’s also the moment Angel begins to realize the damage he did to Buffy will never heal if he stays around her, and that he’s got his own guilt and redemption to work through. (Plus, you know, a spin-off show that’s about to start.) They’ll always love each other, but, in this case, love just isn’t enough.
How many times do I have to take a drink?
12 (I rolled my eyes at Faith a LOT)
Giles For Life
I’m still loving embittered Giles who says whatever’s on his mind:
And this IDGAF look he gives Wesley:
Sticky Fingers Willow
Giles needs to find a better hiding spot, apparently:
Mayor Wilkins’ Idea Of A Good Time
This would be really cute if they weren’t evil. As much as I dislike Faith and her antics, I always find Eliza Dushku delightful, especially her helpless grin in the face of the Mayor’s goofiness.
The Truest Thing Anybody Said This Week
Stylish Yet Affordable Boots
The shoulder looks a little wonky in this picture, but this long sheath dress that Buffy wore for part of the episode looked really pretty on her. The colors were very flattering.
Apocalypse of the Week
The Scooby Gang finds evidence in City Hall that Mayor Wilkins is actually more than 100 years old. He’s been planning this Ascension on Graduation day for a LONG time.
We’ve got a break in the Mayor/Faith/Ascension drama for a good ole monster of the week. Buffy slays one of two demons sans mouths and gets a little bit of its silvery blood on her hand. Throughout the next day she absentmindedly scratches said hand, through fruitless library meetings (Giles has no idea what the Ascension will entail), Willow actually becoming a fan of high-school basketball thanks to her tutoring of Percy, and a very involved pep rally.
Giles determines that she’s been infected by the blood and will take on an aspect of the demon. WHAT said aspect will be, no one knows. Perhaps claws, scales, tails, horns? Buffy is a little freaked out since this isn’t something she can control or fight. How will it change her?
Willow’s face when she suddenly asks, “Was it a BOY demon?” is HIGH-larious.
The next day the Scoobs are waxing poetic about last night’s basketball game they attended while Buffy was out patrolling. Buffy’s feeling excluded from normal high-school shenanigans, so Cordelia takes it upon herself to rub salt in the wound. As she flounces off, Xander idly thinks, “I wonder if she and Wesley have kissed yet?” and Buffy tries to comfort him. “Man, you read my mind,” Xander says, and Buffy’s eyes go wide because OH, CRAP, she did!
Giles sees all the practical slaying benefits of this newfound ability, but Buffy is WAY ahead of him: she uses her gift to pown the students in her English class, pulling the answers to the Othello reading from the brainy Nancy Doyle. Everyone is surprised, including Willow: “Buffy read the reading? Buffy understood the reading?” Ouch. Buffy also overhears the snotty thoughts of a red herring jerky student, Freddie Iverson, editorialist for the school newspaper and future misanthrope.
The next mind-reading item on Buffy’s agenda is to determine once and for all what Angel feels for Faith. She lays it on thick but Angel stops her, telling her she can’t get into his mind because he’s a vampire. He assures Buffy that he hated hurting her, and that while he’s had bad girls before (LOTS of them. Sharing is fun, kids!), no one holds a candle to the only girl he’s loved in 243 years.
Don’t worry, Buffy, many of us would’ve gone the mind-reading route too.
Buffy tells the Scooby Gang about the mind-reading, and it goes over like a lead balloon. Xander suddenly thinks about sex every two seconds and Willow internally freaks out because Buffy will know Oz better than she ever could. I love that Cordelia’s the only one whose inner thoughts reflected her speech. Buffy’s initially upbeat about how this power “opens up all these little worlds” she can walk right into, but by the time Willow runs away from her in a panic, the shine is gone. Giles learns that the last time a human had this power they had to live in complete isolation, which doesn’t work for a Slayer.
Buffy heads to the cafeteria—though being in large crowds seems like a resoundingly bad choice—where the barrage of thoughts quickly becomes overwhelming. A single, creeptastic voice suddenly stands out, whispering, “This time tomorrow, I’ll kill you all.” Buffy frantically grabs people, trying to isolate the killer, but eventually it’s too much and she faints.
Help her, Jonathan!
Giles sends Buffy home, where a strangely anxious Joyce tries to tend to Buffy without actually being near her. This moment is such good payoff after so many awkward Joyce/Giles encounters post-coitus.
The jig is up, Joyce.
Willow puts on her taskmaster hat and hands out lists of students and staff from the lunchroom to the Scooby Gang. “Use the sample questions,” she orders, as she plans on cross-referencing their answers with profiles of mass murders on the FBI database. “Oh! And write neatly and label your worksheets.” Bossy Willow is a fun Willow. Each person’s way of asking the questions is so perfectly them, but Cordelia, once again, takes the cake:
Reader, I laughed.
Xander hits up former bully Larry, thinking he may have snapped from having to hide his sexuality, but Larry is actually out and happy. Good for you, Larry! He offers to help Xander with his own coming out by putting an announcement in the paper.
Angel kills the last telepathetic demon so they can boil his heart for Buffy to drink, as this is the only cure. She’s in a bad way, completely drowning under the weight of everyone else’s thoughts, but the cure works, and soon she heads to school to try and stop the school shooter…who is setting up his rifle in the clocktower. And it’s…Jonathan!?
With no time to waste, Buffy parkours herself up to the clocktower—”I could’ve done that,” Nancy Doyle scoffs, and goes back to her studying—and confronts the would-be killer. She tries a gentle approach, but Jonathan knows she thinks he’s a short idiot, and Buffy bluntly tells him he’s right. She doesn’t think about his pain at all. Everyone has pain, so nobody pays attention because they’re trying to deal with their own. Jonathan eventually hands over the gun and apologizes, buuuut it turns out he wasn’t planning on killing anyone but himself. A killer is still on the loose!
But never fear, it’s Xander’s insatiable hunger to the rescue! While on the hunt for Jonathan in the cafeteria, Xander spies an unattended cart of Jell-O. He’s about to shove the gelatinous mass into his mouth like a heathen when he looks up and spies the lunch lady pouring a comically large box of rat poison into a pot.
It’s mostly amusing, but, uh, Xander, you WERE supposed to be looking for the person you thought was the killer and instead stopped for Jell-O. *scrolls back up to the gif of Angel punching Xander*
Buffy arrives just in time to kick the lunch lady into oblivion. The next day, Buffy gives Giles an update on Jonathan, who’s one moon-eyed look away from asking Buffy to prom. Giles suggests going with her would be good for Jonathan’s self-esteem, but Buffy protests: “Oh, come on! What am I, saint Buffy? He’s like three feet tall!” Not her best look, but her next quip lands perfectly:
How many times do I have to take a drink?
16 (lotsa Jonathan!)
The Sadly Still Truest Thing Anybody Said TWENTY-ONE Years Ago
Wesley Is A Bad, Bad Man
Xander’s Worst Shirt
Dear, God, what is this? An ode to all red, white, and green flags? Is he going to a fiesta? A pizzeria? It’s an assault on my eyes and he wears it for so long.
Is Amy Still A Rat?
There was zero mention of her in these episodes so, yep, still a rat.
Did you believe Angel had actually turned bad, or did you suspect a bait-and-switch? I’m pretty sure I believed it at the time! Anyone else just shaking their head that the school shooting storyline is sadly still so relevant?
Let’s meet back here next week as Sarah ponders the Mayor’s creepy box in “Choices” (not to be confused with Meghan’s creepy box) and the heart-breaking yet heart-warming classic “Prom”.