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08 October 2015 @ 01:36 am
Rewatch time - Choices  
It is totally my fault that the schedule has been interrupted of late. A new Shakespeare course has sucked all my energy, in a really, really good way, but not helpfully. My apologies to all.

On we go now, to

The Mayor knows his Faith and gives her the sort of girly present anyone would want. Though it turns out it’s advance payment, and there’s an implicit threat. She works for him, and the word means something.


Meanwhile Buffy and Angel have a bracing vamp-staking; she feels they may be in a rut. They never go anyplace new. Is this their future?


Buffy has a place at a really good university. Joyce is proud.


And in a state of denial. Buffy really can’t go anywhere. Willow could go to Oxford, where they make Gileses, she could learn and have scones.


Xander is going on the open road, with Kerouac as his bible. Cordelia is unimpressed. She won’t be going to college anywhere near the other losers.


Buffy goes so far as to tell Wes she wants to go away. He forbids it, which is not going to work. Giles agrees with Buffy that they should take the fight to the Mayor.


The box arrives. There is sudden but inevitable betrayal, Faith-style. This is a chance to use her shiny new knife, which may not cut steel, but cuts hands off really well. The Mayor is impressed by her initiative and skill.



Buffy watches the box arrive and encourages the vamp to tell her what was in the box. Plans are made almost wholly excluding Wesley. He’s not a happy bunny.


Xander spots Cordy in the shop and nearly but not quite discovers her big secret. Interesting that he actually seeks her out to jeer at her. She has a lot of really good college offers.


Team Scooby raids the City Hall.


Oz and Xander (why that combo?) sort out the ingredients for the spell to depower the box back at the library.


There is exciting Mission Impossible action.


The box is secured, after some fisticuffs, but Angel and Buffy have to use the street exit, and Willow is not with them. Faith has her instead.


Buffy is determined to trade the box for Willow. Wesley is outraged that they would even think of it. Oz destroys the means they have to destroy the box, thus making his point firmly.


Willow stakes a vampire by magic and seems to be able to escape – at least as far as investigating the Mayor’s office. choices0524

There are a lot of stinky things in there, amongst which are the Books of Ascension – she is distracted enough to be discovered by Faith. She goads her into fighting, but the Mayor intervenes.


The trade takes place in the school cafeteria. The Mayor finds it quite exciting – he’s clearly read all the LeCarré novels. He also gives some fatherly advice about the Buffy/Angel relationship. It hits uncomfortably close.



Snyder interrupts the action with some cops – he had no idea his boss was there.


One cop opens the box. Not a good move. There are spidey-things which eat faces. Fun. Fighting. Spidey-things attack and are killed.



Faith has one final moment when she looks back, but then follows the Mayor.


Snyder is annoyed. “Why couldn’t you be dealing drugs, like normal people?”

Willow can’t recall much of what she read in the Books. So she brought some pages with her. Wesley just points out that they are right back where they started.


Buffy knows she is doomed to Sunnydale. But Willow has decided to join her at UC Sunnydale. It’s not about Buffy; she knows she wants to stay in the fight against evil.


Cordelia loves the dress. But the shop manager warns that she needs to get on with working. All is not as it seemed.


Angel and Buffy are smooching by the gravestones. She is sure the Mayor’s warning was stupid. Really?


Lots of choices in this episode – what to do with the rest of your life, what to do in the next thirty seconds. Willow chooses to stay in Sunnydale (odd that Oz is not a factor) and Buffy recognises that she has no real choice. Angel is faced with a choice he is going to have to make – at least, if he wants his own show he is. Faith chooses to go further and further into the dark side, yet is hurt when Willow points out the result of her choices. Xander has chosen to go on his road trip. Oz chooses to make sure the ritual cannot be performed. The only character who has no effective choices is Wesley, because everyone now behaves as if he is not there for most intents and purposes.

There's also an important theme of things not being what they seem, whether it's relationships, characters or situations, including what choices are open and what is definitely already off the menu. A touch heavy-handed, but an issue we will return to.

It’s a workmanlike episode, but to me it feels heavy on the plot mechanics, setting everything up for the finale, drawing the battle lines to some extent, rather than working as an episode in its own right. Even so, there are some lovely moments, like Buffy tackling Willow to the ground and the Mission Impossible moment going so badly wrong.

What worked best for you? Am I selling it short? Comments not just invited but craved.
readerjane on October 8th, 2015 01:20 am (UTC)
It just occurred to me: why didn't Cordelia take out student loans? I mean, it's not a wise choice unless you have a reasonable expectation that your degree will allow you to pay them back, but Cordelia wasn't all that wise at this stage. She would have been in character to assume she's marry a frat boy with a trust fund who could pay off her loans.

I guess the Doylesian reason is that Cordelia needed to go to L.A. to work at Angel Investigations. But I wonder what the Watsonian reason was?

Also, I'm still impressed at how much damage the Mayor could do simply by speaking the truth. He tells Buffy and Angel things that might have been said with concern and affection by someone who cared for them, but his words are clearly meant as weapons.
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Sandy: willow oz werewolf in love by mesandy_s on October 8th, 2015 02:08 am (UTC)
I also really liked Oz in this episode...in addition to the things you pointed out!

But I agree with you, too. It's definitely an episode that sets things up for the finale and next season(s).
velvetwhip: Angel Saves Willowvelvetwhip on October 8th, 2015 02:42 am (UTC)
I'm reminded a phrase from Joe Bob Briggs. Too much plot getting in the way of the story (though, admittedly, he meant it rather differently and in quite another context). There were themes here and character moments which would have been better served not to be sandwiched in the midst of all this "move Character A to Point F so that Thing Y can happen" stuff.

Butterflysnogged on October 8th, 2015 02:46 am (UTC)
I absolutely love Oz in this episode, but I'm actually not surprised that Willow's decision to go to college UC-Sunnydale has nothing to do with him. Willow's not the sort to choose her academic pursuits based on her proximity to a guy. She chooses them based on where she can best help Buffy fight evil.

One of my favorite moments in this episode is when Willow's goading Faith.

Another favorite moment is when Faith gets her shiny new knife. It's a beautiful piece of handiwork.
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Shapinglight: buffy and angelshapinglight on October 11th, 2015 01:17 pm (UTC)
For the first time, I really got how deeply Buffy feels about Angel.

Yes, that struck me very forcibly on this rewatch too. Though I also feel that their closeness in this episode is particularly emphasised so as to make the events of the next episode that bit more devastating.
Trepkostrepkos on October 8th, 2015 08:09 am (UTC)
Am I alone in wondering why we never see any sign that Buffy would be capable of securing a good - or even any - college place? Nearly every time we see her in an academic situation she seems to be struggling, or at least not paying attention, usually for comic effect, but still; she never seems like one of the brightest buttons in the box.
And am I also alone in feeling that the way the Scooby Gang treats Wesley verges on what would now be considered bullying?
I was sad we didn't see more of the vamp that Faith grossed out by cutting off the courier's hand. He was cute.
Poor Snyder.
I don't really see the point of Willow baiting a known psycho. Seems like it would have been more sensible to keep her mouth shut.
I think Faith is only looking back with regret at losing her lovely knife.

Edited at 2015-10-08 08:10 am (UTC)
Sandy: buffy then and now by mesandy_s on October 8th, 2015 01:29 pm (UTC)
Remember...Buffy got high SAT scores...honestly, I think most of her struggles in school were related to distraction due to slaying. But I could also see where her grades could override her SAT score (depending on how high it was), preventing her from getting into a good college.
Trepkostrepkos on October 8th, 2015 02:40 pm (UTC)
I'm just not convinced by her SAT scores either. Are they not dependent on intelligence?
Sandysandy_s on October 8th, 2015 03:14 pm (UTC)
I believe it...she studies with Giles (I forgot about that)...and yes, they are somewhat dependent on intelligence. I think Buffy is smarter than she gives herself credit for...but nightly slaying...not so conducive to keeping up in classes. She's not a genius but she's not unintelligent.
Shapinglight: buffy faithshapinglight on October 11th, 2015 01:28 pm (UTC)
I agree this is very much a connecting the dots episode, though of course there is also important forward plot development. Not a favourite of mine (none of the arc episodes this season are). The scenes I remember best from it are all the Buffy/Angel ones.