About:

Title: Buffy S3.E19 “Choices” + S3.E20 “The Prom”
Released: 1999

Drinks Taken: 33
Vamps Dusted: 4

 

Follow the whole rewatch here!

Y’all, it’s finally TIME FOR PROM!! BEST NIGHT EVER! At least, on Buffy it is. 

But first, about last week: Angel fooled Faith and the Mayor into thinking he had gone full Angelus–the upside is that they found out a little more about the Mayor’s Ascension plans. The downside is, Angel had to make out with Faith, and Buffy had to watch. Gross. Oh yeah, and then Buffy got ESP for a little bit and saved Jonathan from committing suicide, because she’s a true hero.

And this week, we won’t be the only ones toasting in her honor!

Buffy eagerly watching a pitcher of beer being poured into her glass.

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There’s an extremely outdated pop culture reference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

I know you’ll drink to Jonathan anyway, but his scene on the prom stage certainly deserves a resounding cheers. (What, I’m not already crying! YOU’RE crying!)

Faith, holding Willow hostage

3.19 “Choices”

Tis the season for college acceptances! Buffy got into Northwestern, which is legit awesome; Willow got into Oxford, which is even awesome-r; aaaand Xander is doing his best (worst) Jack Kerouac impression, a.k.a. a road trip to nowhere.* Sadly, Buffy feels the same–it doesn’t seem possible to have a future outside of Sunnydale, and even Giles’ pride in her accomplishment doesn’t take the sting away. (But man, I love seeing how proud he is!) Then there’s the fact that she and Angel seem to be in a bit of a rut, with the same ole same ole of patrolling every night. 

*I do want to take a minute to acknowledge Xander’s trajectory here. Rather than go the route of all other 90s teen TV shows, the writers chose to actually let the guy who sucked at school… stop going to school. It fits with Xander’s character, obviously, but it’s a pretty bold move on the writers’ part.  

Meanwhile, the Mayor is expecting a special delivery from Central America, and even though he fears that Faith is getting a little spoiled, he gives her a fancy knife (mixed message much?) and asks her to insure that the package arrives safely. In true Faith fashion, she shoots the delivery guy (literal overkill) and takes the box to the Mayor. Buffy, who caught wind of this transaction, later attacks the driver and discovers that the package is known as the Box of Gavrok–it houses a “great demonic energy.” So, not your average Amazon Prime order! The Scoobs immediately form a plan to steal the Box: Oz and Xander work on a spell to actually destroy it, while Willow, Buffy and Angel head to the Mayor’s Office. After Willow disarms the protective spell (drink!), Angel lowers Buffy down Mission Impossible style via ropes and a pulley, and she grabs the Box, which sets off an alarm. The rope gets caught, leaving Buffy to fight off some vampire security guards in an extremely tame action sequence, and eventually she and Angel escape with the Box.

But hold those victory cheers, because Faith has captured Willow! Dammit! Buffy realizes they have to trade the Box for Willow, but Wesley isn’t sure it’s worth sacrificing the entire population of Sunnydale for the sake of one person. For once, I understand his perspective, but it’s all moot, because Oz loses his shit.  

I mean, that’s like, the regular human version of blowing up a building, and it’s clear the decision has been made: Operation Trade Willow is in effect! 

But Willow, god bless her, isn’t entirely helpless. When a vampire guard tries to bite her, she stakes him by magically moving a pencil (drink, and also, that practice came in handy!), then she sneaks into the Mayor’s office, where she finds literal skeletons in his closet along with the Books of Ascension. I’m totally impressed but also, like, GTF out of there, girl! Faith finds her, of course, and they face off, with Faith snidely expecting Willow to give her “the speech,” i.e. we’re still friends, we want to help you, blah blah blah. But Willow is having NONE OF THAT. She tells Faith, “It’s way too late. You made your choice,” then straight up says, “Boo-hoo! Poor you!” It is AMAZING and worth a thousand fist pumps, but I’m glad those aren’t Willow’s last words–the Mayor arrives and stops Faith from slaying our badass little Wiccan. 

The two sides meet up that night at Sunnydale High for the handoff–“I feel like we should all be wearing trench coats,” jokes the Mayor. He then takes a minute to provide unsolicited romantic advice to Buffy and Angel. As an immortal, he knows that the road ahead for them will be rough; he should know, since his wife, old and senile, cursed him for his youth on her deathbed. He may be evil, but he’s not wrong. The couples therapy is cut short when Principal Snyder, assuming some kind of drug transaction is happening, arrives with security guards, who seize the Box. Once he spots the Mayor, Snyder immediately apologies (I love the look on his face!), but unfortunately, one of his guards opens the Box, and a giant spider/alien facehugger jumps out and kills him. (Did anyone else notice the “dead” guy blink?) Chaos ensues, but after Buffy and Faith kill a few spiders, things calm down enough for the Mayor to walk out with the Box. Faith has to leave her fancy new knife in the wall, where she impaled a facehugger with it. BOO-HOO, POOR YOU. 

Sure, the Mayor now possesses a great demonic energy, but the Scoobs got Willow back (yay!), and she comes with a bonus: pages she tore out of the Book of Ascension! “This is your night for suave, Will,” Buffy says, and I couldn’t agree more. 

The episode ends with Buffy coming to terms with the fact that she’s never escaping Sunnydale. It’s a grim, adult moment, softened by the fact that Willow has decided to stay with her, because she wants to keep fighting evil and helping people. In the scheme of things, that makes sense, but I can’t help feeling like it’s a waste of that big brain! Later, while Buffy and Angel are cuddling against a tombstone (drink!), she tells him that the Mayor is wrong, and they’ll be okay. But it’s easy to see that our girl doesn’t believe it.  

While all of this went down, Xander noticed that Cordelia’s been busy shopping for a prom dress–but what he doesn’t realize is that she’s actually working in the store. More on that in the next episode! 

How many times do I have to take a drink?

19

Vamps Dusted

3

Oxford’s Gift to Humanity

Major Milestone in Willow Fashion

Willow is rocking that Wiccan style for the first time. Suck it, overalls and bucket hats!

Willow, wearing a long sleeve wine-colored velvet dress with a celestial design on it

The Square Mileage of Sunnydale

Apparently, Buffy and Willow need to stay in the dorm, because UC Sunnydale is “too far to come home every night.” Uh, how big is this town?!

Scooby Feels

Is Amy Still a Rat?

Yes indeed! Hopefully she can defer her college admission for a year. 

Buffy, smiling and standing in the crowd at prom while holding a glittery parasol

3.20 “The Prom”

Y’all, I cannot emphasize enough how EXCITED I am to recap this episode (a.k.a. gif the shit out of it). When I saw the schedule for Season 3, I legit yelped with glee, because “The Prom” is one of my all time favorites. Sure, the monster of the week is lame, but everything else about this episode is so very high school, in the most bittersweet way. Anyway, enough of my rhapsodizing. Let’s get to it! 

So, as the title indicates, prom is just around the corner, and Buffy is stoked. Angel, on the other hand, gets weird when she brings it up, but she’s too enthused to notice. And guess who else can’t wait for prom? Our resident man-hating ex-demon, Anya! She asks Xander to be her date, and he begrudgingly agrees. Ah, the beginning of a beautiful… something.

Flush with love and prom anticipation, Buffy dreams of marrying Angel, and it’s a lovely, typical teen girl’s fantasy–until they walk out of the church, into the light, and she combusts. Joyce is clearly picking up on these signals, because she pays Angel a visit and reminds him that they’re from different worlds. Buffy, she tells him, is just starting out in life, and “you’re all she can see of tomorrow.” She gently but directly asks him to make the hard choice, because she knows Buffy can’t. “I know you care about her, I just hope you care enough,” she says, and MAN, she is such an incredible mom. And Angel knows she’s right. 

So, later that night when he and Buffy are patrolling, he shares that he’s been thinking about their future–and their relationship isn’t fair to her, just like the Mayor said. “You should be with someone who can take you into the light,” he says, clearly tortured by that knowledge. And then things get absolutely heartbreaking. 

SMG’s performance is gutwrenching here, especially when she puts this into teenage terms, i.e. breaking up, when it’s so much bigger than that. I’m not even Team Angel, and yet this scene shook me hard. 

Thankfully, Buffy chooses a healthy way to process: she talks to Willow, who does “the best friend’s job” and makes him out to be the bad guy. But Buffy tells her that he’s right–he’s 243 years old, and they can’t have that perfect future she dreamed about. But that doesn’t help with the pain. “Right now I’m just trying to keep from dying,” she sobs, and GAH it’s like a knife through the heart. (Yes, I teared up.) 

Meanwhile, something nefarious is afoot–we see a weird, hairy demon in a cage inside someone’s ramshackle house, and then the beast escapes! And runs… straight to the dress shop where Cordelia works. Minutes before, Xander realizes that she’s not just browsing, and she admits that she’s working there to earn a dress, because her dad “made a mistake on his taxes for the last 12 years,” and now the family is broke. Then the beast (known as a hellhound) crashes through the window and attacks a guy trying on a tux. 

The Scoobs get access to the security footage (Xander covers up Cordelia’s employment at the store, which is sweet) and discovers that the hellhound is being controlled by a dude named Tucker Wells. He has plans to attack students at the prom–“once again,” Oz quips, “the Hellmouth puts the ‘special’ in special occasion.” But Buffy refuses to let Tucker ruin the sacred ritual of prom. 

I adore Buffy so much in this moment. 

And she’s not the only one doing good works: Xander pays off the remaining amount due on Cordelia’s dress! Awww! And then there’s Giles, listening as Buffy tells him that Angel is leaving her and being the solid, supportive father figure she needs right now. 

While Buffy tracks down Tucker’s address by finding the local butcher who sells him animal brains (yuck), prom has begun!! Fatboy Slim is playing! Willow is smokin’ hot! Anya regales Xander with tales of her vengance! Cordelia looks drop dead gorgeous! And Wesley offers her his arm *record scratch.* 

Buffy finds Tucker in the basement, and we discover the motivation behind his evil plan: every girl turn him down when he asked them to prom. Ugh, such an incel move. Utilizing prom films, he’s trained all three of his hellhounds to attack teens in formalwear, but they’re no match for our Slayer, who dispatches them as easy as 1, 2, 3 before pulling a dress out of a bag in true Buffy style. She was right–Angel is going to lose it over this dress, because she looks absolutely stunning. 

The senior awards are winding down (Xander lost Class Clown, harsh!) but there’s one more left, and Jonathan (drink!) steps up to present it. “A lot of weird stuff happens here,” he declares, and then points out that the Class of ’99 has the lowest mortality rate of any graduating class in Sunnydale history, and clearly, that’s because of one person and AHHH I’M ALREADY CRYING. (Then remember that she just saved him from committing suicide and WATERFALLS.) He pulls out a golden parasol and calls Buffy up to the stage. 

Buffy deserves this moment SO MUCH, and her expression fills my heart to bursting. The camera pans over Cordy and Wesley dancing (blech), then Xander and Anya, who admits, “This isn’t so bad,” as The Sundays’ “Wild Horses” begins to play. And that’s my cue to tear up yet again, because this happens: 

Angel asks her to dance, and she knows they’re together, just for this one night, and our Slayer finally gets her perfect, magical, high school moment. A-MEN.

How many times do I have to take a drink?

14

Vamps Dusted

1

Angel’s It

Never Change, Anya

Never Change, Cordelia

Xander and Cordelia make peace over her dress, in the only way they know how. 

Seriously, though, this exchange makes me so happy. 

Giles for Life

When Wesley asks Giles if it’s okay to ask Cordelia to dance, Giles responds: “For God’s sake, man, she’s 18.”  

Giles, rocking a tux and admonishing Wesley
Giles: You have the emotional maturity of a blueberry scone.

Just have at it, would you?” he continues. “And stop fluttering about.” PREACH. 

Jonathan’s Got Game

Anyone else spot Jonathan hanging with a very tall date? Way to go, buddy!

Scooby Feels

Look at those loving, proud faces! Look at Buffy basking in the light! GAH now I’m crying again. 


Anyone else enjoy Sunnydale’s prom more than their own?! And how do you feel about the Buffy and Angel break-up? I’d particularly like to know how you feel now versus how your younger self felt the first time you watched it. For the record, I feel about the same–as I have overstated, I was never Team Angel, so while the emotions in this episode felt (and still feel) very real to me, I never saw Buffy and Angel as being forever. 

Join me in the comments for any and all prom rehashing and respectful OTP disagreements, then tune in next Wednesday as Kandis closes out Season 3 (!) with “Graduation Day Part 1” and “Part 2”!

Sarah splits her time between Dallas and Austin, and believes there is no such thing as a guilty pleasure, which is part of why she started FYA in 2009. Growing up, she thought she was a Mary Anne, but she's finally starting to accept the fact that she's actually a Kristy.