Buffy 3×16: Doppelgangland

[Review by Mike Marinaro]

[Writer: Joss Whedon | Director: Joss Whedon | Aired: 02/23/1999]

Here represents another Whedon-written success. This episode is everything we’ve come to expect from BtVS. Willow’s self-confidence is the focus and it manages to be hilarious, witty, fun, exciting, and fascinating. There’s significant character development and foreshadowing going on and the entertaining Vampire Willow is the reason why it all gets forced out. Plot threads from the season are also seamlessly woven into the story along with development for a reappearing Anya now stuck in a younger body and forced to live as a human again. This is simply wonderful television.

Early on Buffy is talking about how if things had turned out differently for her she might be just like Faith is now. Willow responds, “some people just don’t have that in them.” This is ultimately a correct statement. Some people just don’t have an evil bone in them and Buffy, for all her issues, is fundamentally a person who will not do evil.

Ever since the S2 episode “Halloween” [2×06] Willow has been slowly gaining and retaining confidence boosts. The problem is that these boosts have been confined within her circle of friends. To the outside world, as iconified by Percy here, she is still weak and accomodating. Her natural growth of confidence just isn’t fast enough. All of this explodes to the surface when Buffy calls her “old reliable.” She acts out by breaking her routine and turning to black magic. Willow herself fully realizes her perceived problem through Vampire Willow’s influence on everyone around her.

Willow says about herself, “She bothered me. She’s so weak and accommodating. She’s always letting people walk all over her, and then she gets cranky with her friends for no reason. I just couldn’t let her live.” And with that statement she actually has killed off her innocent persona. Percy’s newfound respect for her is a confirmation to her that having power makes you important in the eyes of other people. Although her change won’t be instant, she takes action to rid herself of this persona as early as “Choices” [3×19] when she volunteers for a dangerous mission, proactively uses her magic in the field, and then stands up to Faith at knife-point.

By the time Tara comes into the picture (“Hush” [4×10] ) Willow’s built a new personality for herself where she is confident in the outside world. The problem is that most of this confidence stems from the power she gets when using black magic. In “Wrecked” [6×10] she says, “if you could be … you know, plain old Willow or super Willow, who would you be? … I mean, Buffy, who was I? Just, some girl. Tara didn’t even know that girl.” That just highlights how much of a turning point this episode actually is for her.

If someone had for some reason been reading this review up to this point without seeing the episode, they’d probably be under the impression that this was a serious episode. All of the huge issues that are going on with Willow are expertly wrapped up in a genuinely fun package. Nothing exemplifies this fact more than the scene in the library where Willow walks in when Buffy, Xander, and Giles all thought she was a vampire. Xander runs up to her and sticks a cross in her face, hilariously shakes it a bunch, and then sticks it in her face again. Buffy and Xander then run up to hug her as she asks Giles what the heck is going on. Then Giles runs up and hugs her! After getting a hilariously worried face she poses a question to the group, “Say, you all didn’t happen to do a bunch of drugs, did ya?” There are really too many hilarious scenes to even count in this one including Anya’s chat with D’Hoffryn, her failure to get beer, Wesley’s boyish fright, and the outfit exchange with Vampire Willow.

When seeing this episode for the first time I had a genuine good time but didn’t think the episode held any lasting importance to the series. Upon review I realize that this has a ton of lasting importance involving Willow’s character. All of this wonderful development and foreshadowing is cleverly camoflauged by Whedon as a hilarious throw-away episode. Whedon is a genius (I’m curious how many times I’ll end up saying this by series end). Enough said.

 


Minor Pros/Cons (+/-)

+ D’Hoffryn is amusing from his very first appearance.
+ Snyder mentioning “last year’s debacle with the swim team.”
+ Faith playing the spy. Also, I find the father/daughter relationship between her and the Mayor weird, touching, amusing, and most of all, fascinating.
+ Willow saying the words, “magic is dangerous, Anya, i-it’s, it’s not to be toyed with.” When you know what’s to come, that line is hilarious coming from her.
+ Vampire Willow beating up Percy. Very fun.
+ Buffy and Xander’s initial reaction to Vampire Willow.
+ Both Willows’ interacting with each other. Serious fun.
+ Willow not only putting on the leather outfit but bothering to put the fuzzy outfit she had onto Vampire Willow.
+ Buffy’s highly entertaining plan to have Willow ‘send’ vamps outside one by one for them to kill.
+ Willow noticing her breasts when in Vampire Willow’s outfit. “Gosh, look at those.”
+ Cordelia chatting with Vampire Willow about the “ethics of boyfriend stealing.”
+ Wesley being terrified but Cordelia warming up to him anyway. “Yes…uhh…yes.”
+ Vampire Willow dying the moment she gets sent back to her reality.

– Vampire Willow is trying to strangle Willow. With vampire strength there’s no way Willow would have lasted that long.


Foreshadowing

* In the beginning of the episode Willow mentions how the magic she’s using to float the pencil is all about emotional control. When the topic of Faith comes up she loses control and the magic becomes erratic and violent. This happens again and again in upcoming seasons and to much more severe degrees.
* Willow says, referring to Vampire Willow, “I’m so evil and… skanky. And I think I’m kinda gay.” Angel then starts to correct Buffy when she says that a vampire’s personality is nothing like the person they originally were. In the course of the series we never see Willow become outright ‘skanky,’ but she does become evil (S6) and she does become gay (S4).


[Score]

95/100

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54 thoughts on “Buffy 3×16: Doppelgangland”

  1. [Note: buffyholic posted this comment on July 26, 2007.]

    This is a really great episode. It had everything working for me: comedy, action and great development for Willow. Anya is just wonderful, she was really a great addition to the show. All in all, a success.

    Like

  2. [Note: MikeJer posted this comment on June 18, 2008.]

    Yes Jaden, because my Top 25 is more of a personal favorites list (with a little objectivity thrown in) while my reviews are mostly me trying to be objective with a little bit of favoritism thrown in (with some exceptions). But look for a some score tweaking to many of my reviews after I’m done with S7.

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  3. [Note: BtVSobsessed posted this comment on September 29, 2008.]

    I got interested in Buffy through iTunes and continued with DVDs. Never saw an episode during the series run and regret it. Now I’m totally hooked and love re-watching episodes. It is a really wonderful show with great depth and complex characterizations, as your reviews clearly show.

    This is one of my favorite episodes. It’s so much fun to re-watch. Alison Hannigan’s performance is very impressive. There is such a different tone when she’s playing Vamp Willow vs. Willow. There are just two distinct characterizations and it’s always clear which one we are seeing, though it seems plausible that the other characters can’t tell them apart when they don’t know there are two of them.

    However, one thing that’s always bothered me is Faith and Wesley coming cheerfully into the Library joking around after some training. The last time we saw them interact Faith was violently escaping from being transported back to England by Wesley to be tried for killing the Deputy Mayor. I know Faith appeared to turn back to the good side by staking Mr. Trick at the end of Consequences, but this playful camaraderie between Faith and Wesley just doesn’t fit. Why doesn’t Faith still have to go to England to see the Watcher’s Council? Why is Wesley treating her with such ease? Did she really absolve herself of all of her misdeeds (killing Allan Finch, accusing Buffy of the murder, etc.) simply by killing Mr. Trick?

    Is anyone else bothered by this or am I nitpicking? Or did I miss something?

    Thanks for the great reviews.

    Like

  4. [Note: bigmoneygrip posted this comment on October 22, 2008.]

    Favorite parts:

    The look that Giles and Xander exchanged not only after Willow said “Gosh, look at those” and when Willow jokingly talked about dominatrix, leather and Oz. That was precious.

    The main guy vamp in the Bronze was amusing.

    Xander bolting to rescue Willow when he thought she was getting beat up.

    The quick smile and wave Willow give Oz when she’s pretending to be a vamp.

    When Willow says “bored, now” bad things happen (Angel’s torture, Percy getting beat up, Warren losing his skin).

    Like

  5. [Note: Sam posted this comment on November 27, 2008.]

    This is a great episode–really great. I think it’s Whedon’s best in S3. It’s witty and sexy [Vamp Willow licking Willow=yummy]. She ends up learning a lot about herself as a result, and I think it’s about time we got a good Willow-centric ep. Go Joss!

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  6. [Note: Nathan.Taurus posted this comment on April 18, 2009.]

    I agree with your comments and myself enjoy the episode, although I rate ‘The Wish’ higher because you have to suspend belief longer in this episode than the other. The people at the Bronze forget about the expendable vampires who attack them, but it seems more difficult to forget that Willow killed someone as a vamp. I know we find out that the residents know strange things happen in Sunnydale in ‘The Prom’ but it still hurts the episode for me a little.

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  7. [Note: willtyler posted this comment on April 21, 2009.]

    This is one of my favorite episodes.
    I think that its great when the vamp willow and the norm willow are hugging and the vamp willow smiles and the norm willow jumps back and says “HANDS”
    classic
    The other clever instance is when norm willow grabs the tranquilizer gun (her trademark weapon) and shoots vamp willow and all she says is: “bitch.”

    Like

  8. [Note: gilbert posted this comment on September 20, 2009.]

    The thing I loved most about this episode is that it REALLY gave Alyson Hannigan a chance to show off — playing, essentially, four different characters. Normal Willow, Vamp Willow, Normal Willow pretending to be Vamp Willow (in the Bronze), and Vamp Willow pretending to be normal Willow (to trick Cordelia). She had to play not just these two very opposite types, but also extrapolate to what each of those people would act like if they were trying to pass themselves off as the other, and she pulled it off brilliantly.

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  9. [Note: Scoobasteve83 posted this comment on September 20, 2009.]

    Now I don’t know if this can really be considered as forshadowy (GOD, I obviously watched this series too often… ;-)).
    Vampire Willow has one particular line she uses in both “The Wish” as well as in this episode which is “Bored now!”

    (SPOILER ALERT) which is exactly what Dark Willow says at the end of Season 6 just before she skins Warren. (SPOILER END)

    Maybe you should put that one in the foreshadowing section as well, MikeJer.

    Like

  10. [Note: Christian posted this comment on September 23, 2009.]

    I didnt care much for this ep whn I first saw it, but now I really like it. I think its hillarious and has great moments. I like the “Bored now” observation. Willow rocks!! In any of her forms =)

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  11. [Note: Shannon posted this comment on February 10, 2010.]

    This is definitely one of my favorite episodes of the whole series. I agree that Willow’s little wave and smile to Oz when she first comes into the Bronze in vampire costume is priceless- she is so adorable (and tough!) in this episode. So based on the fact that Anya is doing a spell to try to get her necklace back, it makes sense that she must be aware of the alterna-Sunnydale – I wonder why she never mentions it to anyone.

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  12. [Note: fray-adjacent posted this comment on May 26, 2010.]

    The first time I watched the series, I was delighted to see Willow grow in confidence and in her skill as a witch. I didn’t recognize the foreshadowing of Willow using her power to manipulate people and emotions, or to rely on her magical talents and the power they gave her as her source of confidence. Now, as I re-watch, it’s very interesting to see how these develop.

    I think that Willow does undergo quite a bit of “natural” (non-magical) development and confidence-building. We see this really start, as MikeJer has pointed out, in “Halloween” (2×08), but it continues in “The Dark Age” (2×10), when Willow figures out how to solve the demon possession (get it to possess Angel), and in numerous other small moments throughout the next few seasons. Willow’s relationship with Oz, who is probably the most emotionally mature of the Scoobies (besides perhaps Giles) at this point, is important too. This is one of the reasons why, even after Tara leaves Willow and she quits magic, Willow still has a self to fall back on, a self that is stronger and more confident than the person we saw in “Welcome to the Hellmouth,” even though Willow herself doesn’t seem to believe it in “Wrecked.” That is the Willow that Tara loves and comes back to in “Entropy,” though this Willow is still too fragile to withstand the shock and horror of Tara’s death one episode later.

    But I think there is even more to it than that. Willow has inherent magical talent, a talent that she cultivates into a considerable skill through long, hard work and a desire to do good in the world. In this sense Willow is not so different from Buffy. Yes, Willow sometimes gives in to the temptation to manipulate relationships and people through her power; this is her main failing, and a damn scary one. (Buffy, by comparison, doesn’t face this temptation because she doesn’t have the power to do those things anyway.) A major part of Willow’s growth and increased confidence is through magic, but I don’t believe this is always bad. Willow discovers that she has a skill that can contribute enormously to the important work that the Scoobies do, and she loves doing it. That Willow gives into the temptation to use this power unethically shows the ways in which she still is not confident in herself. But that doesn’t mean that magic, or the confidence (and even joy) that Willow derives from practicing it, is inherently bad. We see this in Willow in Season 7. Although Willow is afraid of her power, she knows it is an inherent part of her, and she develops the strong solid core self that she needs to use that power for the good instead of for selfish reasons.

    (Sorry this comment isn’t really about “Doppelgangland,” which I agree is a marvelous episode, a fantastic mix of great humor and important character development, though the latter’s not apparent on first viewing. This just seemed like as good a place as any to put in my views on Willow’s development.)

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  13. [Note: nathan.taurus posted this comment on August 22, 2010.]

    The Good:

    Willow and Percy. “You want us to breed?”

    Double standards Willow saying that magic shouldn’t be toyed with.

    Xander saving Percy, but thinking he is saving Willow.

    Buffy’s reaction to seeing vamp Willow thinking it’s Willow. “Oh my God, you’re Willow.”

    Vamp Willow breaking the attackers fingers. I cringed.

    The great library scene when Xander/Buffy/Giles realise Willow is not dead.

    Willow shocked by her own cleavage.

    Wesley and Cordelia. Wesley screams. “Men in combat, grrr.”

    The Bad:

    Willow’s pink flower sweater. Maybe in season one, but not now.

    Willow somehow knowing the words to the spell. Anya had to explain who they were praying to.

    Why are people still sitting at there tables when the vamps are there?

    Willow survives Vamp Willow choking her.

    Too many extras not acting anything.

    How could they ever explain Willow killing someone. There should have been half a dozen extras.

    Like

  14. [Note: Susan posted this comment on August 26, 2010.]

    I laughed out loud many times during this episode which I would have been tempted to give a “P” if I were the one doing the rating. I loved the look on her face when Snyder was talking about the perfect marriage between her and Percy at the beginning of the episode and she said : “You want us to breed????????” Also, Willow uses the exact same line “…and I think I’m kind of gay” in the season 6 episode “Tabula Rasa” just before the spell is broken.

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  15. [Note: Tuna posted this comment on January 4, 2011.]

    Great things:

    “She was truly the best of us.”

    “Way better than me.”

    “Yes, much, much better than you.”

    “So, in your universe, I’m like this badass vampire, huh?”

    *exasperated look*

    “Oh yeah, I’m *bad*.”

    Like

  16. [Note: deadlego posted this comment on April 26, 2011.]

    @Mikejer

    Could you please explain to me why this episode isn’t a ‘P’ considering you don’t mention a single thing that you find problematic in it. From reading your review I would presume that you would score it ‘P’. I love this episode and would give it a ‘p’.

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  17. [Note: MikeJer posted this comment on April 26, 2011.]

    @deadlego: Good point. There is an inconsistency there. In general, the earlier the review, the more inconsistent it is. Precisely because of this I am currently in the process of polishing up all my reviews from the start. This will include revisions to some reviews and a re-evaluation of the scores, which is why I have recently redone all of my Season 1 episode reviews. Expect everything to be a lot more consistent after this process is completed across the entire series. My updated comprehensive Season 1 Review is about to be released, which is where I’m currently at.

    As for “Doppelgangland,” I will definitely re-evaluate both the episode and the score when I get to it on the ‘polish pass.’

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  18. [Note: deadlego posted this comment on April 27, 2011.]

    Great! Thanks for taking the time to explain, I love your updated season 1 reviews. It is so refreshing for a site to have retrospective reviews which cover how the episodes relate to each other without having to leave things out for fear of spoilers. So much more insight can be taken away from an episode when one is free to make comparison to any other episode in the series, or point out foreshadowing even if it is in relation to an episode from several seasons later.

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  19. [Note: MikeJer posted this comment on April 27, 2011.]

    I couldn’t agree more. This is partially why I decided make the site in the first place. While I saw plenty of reviews on the internet from people who were watching the episodes for the first time, I couldn’t find very many that were doing retrospective reviews. Of all the reviews I had read, retrospective or not, I found the vast majority of them to be very wanting. Either they were way too analytical to the point of not even knowing if the reviewer liked an episode, or they were way too superficial to the point where there was no substantive analysis. Plus, at the time at least, I couldn’t find anyone who looked at seasons as a whole (outside of entirely casual review sites like IGN). Hence my season reviews were born. I craved a reviewer that offered all of these things, as I felt strongly that a show like Buffy truly deserved this kind of attention. Since I couldn’t find it elsewhere I had to try to do it myself. 🙂

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  20. [Note: Gemma posted this comment on January 23, 2012.]

    This is one of those episodes up there with the Zeppo and Bewitched Bothered and Bewildered, Earshot and Band Candy for laughs with character development being an underlying prominent theme.

    Loved the scene with Buffy, Giles and Xander expressing grief over Willow being ‘dead’! And then the hugs! Angel’s reaction to! priceless.

    Another moment that i enjoyed was Cordelia’s and Vamp Willow’s encounter, the listening to the boyfriend stealing and then the presence of Wesley! Great!

    Oh and the Apple scene! Percy giving his teacher an Apple! HA!

    I value this season highly, looking retrospectively i’m of the opinion that this season is probably the strongest for stand alone comedy value moments and episodes all be them screened in the middle of one of the cohesive and poignant big bad’s of Buffyverse! The Mayor and Faith.

    Truly great viewing.

    its a shame we didn’t get to see the results of the Buffy vs Faith Slayer test and from this point on i will miss Vamp Willow. I remember her fondly! Oh and i wonder what with Angel sort of being aware that Willow is sort of going to be gay…what his thoughts were towards Oz?

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  21. [Note: Odon posted this comment on February 10, 2012.]

    @ BtVSobsessed “However, one thing that’s always bothered me is Faith and Wesley coming cheerfully into the Library joking around after some training. The last time we saw them interact Faith was violently escaping from being transported back to England by Wesley to be tried for killing the Deputy Mayor. I know Faith appeared to turn back to the good side by staking Mr. Trick at the end of Consequences, but this playful camaraderie between Faith and Wesley just doesn’t fit. Why doesn’t Faith still have to go to England to see the Watcher’s Council? Why is Wesley treating her with such ease? Did she really absolve herself of all of her misdeeds (killing Allan Finch, accusing Buffy of the murder, etc.) simply by killing Mr. Trick?”

    They’re not joking around – Faith has run Wes ragged in PT and Wes is trying to maintain his demeanor. And there’s no proof Faith has been absolved as yet. Buffy mentions a Watcher psychologist evaluating both Slayers, so apparently the Council are still looking into the matter. A likely scenario: Wesley realises now that he doesn’t have control over either Slayer, and that the only way is to work with Giles. Giles wanted the Council kept out of matters; failing that he prefers Faith not get hauled off to England in chains. So the two work out a compromise – Wes will persuade the Council that Faith is best kept in Sunnydale where her friends can be a positive influence, while an investigative/evaluation team flies out from England to investigate Finch’s death. Meanwhile Giles will use his influence on the Scoobies to make them to work with Wesley. And from Wesley’s point of view it’s working – Buffy is repentant after her ‘bad girl’ phase and Faith is pretending to be to hide her role as the Mayor’s spy. Things are still awkward between them however; despite her desire to reach out to Faith Buffy clearly doesn’t know how to do so, and her desire to ace Faith in the physical hints at some lingering anger over Faith’s actions in “Consequences”.

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  22. [Note: joaquin posted this comment on February 28, 2012.]

    i love the last part when anya talks about returning her powers

    and both willows laught about that

    knowing what will happen in s6 is very fun

    Like

  23. [Note: Gemma posted this comment on April 10, 2012.]

    I find that in this episode Faith hasn’t been absolved for her killing the mayor but i think instead she has been given ‘the benefit of the doubt’. Giles said that in the line of battle the Slayer is lost in a world fighting and so accidents do happen, You could even go as far to say that they have passed Faith’s escape attempt as acting out of fear? She is scared and not wanting to be cornered. Her saving Buffy and then opting to come back to town with her were said to be of the good at the end of Consequences.

    In this episode, her not being completely trusted in battle and perhaps in herself is mentioned when Buffy asks Giles if they should get Faith and he responds by saying that he doesn’t want her back on active duty this soon after events.

    Like

  24. [Note: MonaLIsa posted this comment on April 12, 2012.]

    Did anyone else notice that in one of the first scenes were Oz and Willow is walking together Oz has a bee knit on his shirt that keep touching the neckline of flowers on Willows shirt? My mind immediately went to places foreshadowing Graduation Day II…

    Like

  25. [Note: Ryan O’Neil posted this comment on May 13, 2012.]

    We have established that Xander hates Angel when Angel is a GOOD guy, is willing to have Angel killed when Angel is a GOOD guy, etc etc, and yet Xander is so mind-screwed when he finds out that Willow is-or-isn’t a vampire that he resorts to calling Angel “Buddy.” Clearly, he is pretty messed up about what’s happening and his brain isn’t working. More than usual.

    And of course, the character development with Willow learning that she can actually be confident, assertive, and kinda gay.

    I had to.

    Like

  26. [Note: Dave posted this comment on May 26, 2012.]

    I can only imagine how many times Tony/Nick creased up laughing in that scene in the library.

    “something… something very strange is going on.”

    *deadpan*

    “can you believe the watchers council let this guy go?”

    Like

  27. [Note: Dave posted this comment on May 26, 2012.]

    Ooo! Anyone notice the girl “Sandy” that Vamp Willow toys with, is the “Sandy” that takes a nibble from Riley?

    Like

  28. [Note: Ryan ONeil posted this comment on May 27, 2012.]

    Something I put in the discussion forums without even thinking:

    “Good thing they tried crosses on the real Willow before crossbow bolts, right? Actually, after writing that down, that doesn’t seem so funny, that was just horrifying. And Joss Whedon probably would’ve. AAAAAAAAA”

    Like

  29. [Note: Eden posted this comment on July 14, 2012.]

    I’m still, after all this year, laughing while remembering the scene where Willow tries to pose as Vamp Willow, and stroke the hair of that girl, while saying “I’m so bored–” and gets her fingers stuck at the girl’s hair.

    Like

  30. [Note: RaeScott posted this comment on September 21, 2012.]

    I really do love this episode. The foreshadowing is great, Willow & Vamp Willow interacting with each other is hilarious. But for some reason I have a problem with the scene in the library when Buffy, Xander and Giles are expressing grieve over Willow and then Willow shows up and is alive after all. I don’t know, there’s something about the acting that just doesn’t sit right with me. Maybe it’s because as viewers, we KNOW that this is indeed the real Willow. To me, especially the lines “I’m not a vampire!” and “Say, you all didn’t happen to do a bunch of drugs, did ya?” kind of felt a bit over-acted by Alyson Hannigan. Kind of as if Hannigan couldn’t contain her excitement over playing this scene since she (as an actress) of course knew Willow was alive. I don’t know how to explain this really. This scene just felt weird to me. Other than that I love the episode.

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  31. [Note: Arachnea posted this comment on February 25, 2013.]

    I agree with you except for you last sentence: “despite her desire to reach out to Faith Buffy clearly doesn’t know how to do so, and her desire to ace Faith in the physical hints at some lingering anger over Faith’s actions in “Consequences”.” I’d say she wants to surpass Faith for two reasons; she doesn’t want to become Faith but most of all, she wants to be The One. She has self-confidence issues – not at the level of Willow’s – and can be pretty obsessive when she’s decided to do something, as seen throughout the series.

    Do you remember how she feared that Kendra would become Giles’ favourite slayer ? And how she reacts when everyone tells her she could live her life and let Faith take over ? Or when we first meet Faith, she’s thoroughly jealous because her friends find Faith very entertaining. Buffy dislikes being in charge and the chosen one. But she also craves for it, she loves the power and being the center of attention. She can’t accept to be the second, she must be the best. It’s a paradox, but a very understandable one.

    This episode was a great deal of fun and a great piece of character development.

    Like

  32. [Note: Ellie posted this comment on May 29, 2013.]

    Did anyone else notice that Snyder had a picture of a child on his desk when he’s talking to Percy and Willow??!! He has family?? Wow

    Like

  33. [Note: Amadan posted this comment on July 1, 2013.]

    did anybody notice that when human willow screamed to buffy not to kill the vampire willow she immediatly stopped in contrast with buffy screaming at faith to stop when she was killing the vulcanologist and faith didn’t

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  34. [Note: Jeremy posted this comment on March 2, 2014.]

    Another fun quote from right after Willow and Anya tried the spell to summon Anya’s necklace:

    Anya: I swear, I am just trying to find my necklace.
    Willow: Well, did you try looking inside the sofa in hell?

    Like

  35. [Note: FlyingPenguin posted this comment on May 19, 2014.]

    This is, of course, a super-fun and all-around fantastic episode (got to get that out of the way first). But it also begins to bring into the open aspects of Willow’s overall character arc that I’ve always been deeply ambivalent about (at best).

    Another commenter kind of touched on this already, but I feel like the show was never very clear on the metaphor/significance behind Willow’s developing magical skills. Does her magic symbolize her growing self-confidence and personal power, or is it a crutch that she leans on to compensate for her lack of “genuine” confidence and power? I mean, I’m not saying that the answer can’t be “some of both”–but it often comes across (to me) less as interestingly ambiguous and more as just plain muddled. After all, both before and after this episode, we do see Willow gradually growing in self-confidence and assertiveness, and in ways that aren’t limited to just her magical prowess.

    I will readily confess that part of my difficulty stems from a personal dislike for the whole “dark Willow” storyline in season 6. Willow is the character with whom I most strongly identify in the earlier seasons, yet I can’t really relate to much of what she does in season 6 at all. Defenders of the latter will probably want to argue that I simply lack the imagination or insight to see how her season 6 behavior grows out of traits shown earlier in the show, but to me, season 6 has just always seemed like a huge (and unpalatable) distortion of the character. Thus, despite my love of this episode, things like the link between vampire Willow saying “bored now” here and Dark Willow saying the same thing later on do leave me a bit cold. (Also, I have to say that I must be about the only person who doesn’t find vampire Willow especially visually appealing or even generally much “fun” as a character–though regular Willow trying to pretend to be vampire Willow *is* hugely fun.)

    I mean, I’m on board with the idea of magic being a kind of can of worms that can be both useful and dangerous, and with Willow having to struggle with control and with where to draw lines as she delves further and further into it. I liked the opening scene of this episode, where “emotional control” translated into control of her magic–and I also like the very beginning of season 6, where she shows herself willing to do some disturbing things and channel some really dark powers toward the end of resurrecting Buffy. Good thematic and character material there. But I have real trouble with the whole manipulative, violating-others’-agency, easy-solution-favoring side that she develops in season six (erasing Tara’s memories to resolve their argument, for example); this just seems radically inconsistent with who Willow was prior to that. (Though I’ll admit that I had somehow never really picked up on her “cast a spell to make her and Xander stop lusting after each other” scheme in “Lovers Walk” until my current (i.e. umpteenth) rewatch. This is admittedly a clear precursor to her season 6 behavior–but it doesn’t really improve things much for me, becaus it in itself already seems out of character to me…)

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  36. [Note: Joy posted this comment on May 19, 2014.]

    I hear what you’re saying about Willow’s issues with magic, power and self-image being more muddled than interestingly ambiguous. But Willow demonstrates several times that she has poor personal boundaries and zero tolerance for emotional pain. These two characteristics are hallmarks of addictive behavior. She repeatedly tries to take emotional shortcuts by using magic to control her friends and lovers.

    She first tries to do a de-lusting spell on Xander without his knowledge or permission in Lover’s Walk. When Oz breaks up with her after Lover’s Walk she can’t bear her grief; she wants the pain to be over immediately. Oz demonstrates very clear boundaries by telling her that her pain is her problem, not his.

    She reacts this way again when Oz leaves her in Season 4. In Something Blue, Buffy tells her that grieving takes time but eventually the pain will go away and she will feel better. Willow grows angry and says, “that’s not good enough!” She then says she could have done a spell to make Oz stay with her.

    Her boundary issues haven’t improved by the time she is with Tara. If anything they’ve grown worse. She never did a spell to make Oz stay with her, but she twice tried to wipe out Tara’s memories in order to make their conflict go away. She did it the second time even after Tara explained to her why it was so wrong. (Tara, like Oz, had excellent boundaries.)

    Until season 7 Willow can’t understand why it’s wrong to try to control others, to use others for her own pleasure and convenience. That is a *huge* character flaw.

    Did she always have this character flaw, or did dabbling in black magic bring it out in her? Remember Giles back in Becoming part 1 telling her that doing black magic could awaken dangerous forces in her that she might not be able to control.

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  37. [Note: FlyingPenguin posted this comment on May 19, 2014.]

    I certainly acknowledge that the de-lusting spell idea, her reaction when Oz leaves her in season 4, and her behavior in season 6 are all examples of a consistent and very disturbing pattern. My problem, though, is that each one of these examples seems inconsistent to me with pretty much everything *else* about Willow, at least over the course of the first few seasons of the show. No tolerance for emotional pain? That just doesn’t fit with someone who has been rejected and unpopular for most of her life, and has coped with it as well as Willow generally has. Poor boundaries and a tendency to try to control others? She’s always been a compulsive rule-follower who seeks the approval of authority figures and tends to let others walk all over her! To me, it seems like Willow was consistently characterized as studious, hard-working, compassionate, thoughtful, and a generally admirable (if not very confident or assertive) person–until, that is, the writers decided it would be cool to take her down the “dark magic” path, at which point they started tossing in instances here and there of the kinds of behavior that you described, even though it really didn’t fit with who she was very well at all.

    (I wouldn’t really consider her actions when she is temporarily estranged from Oz after Lovers Walk to be an example of the same pattern, by the way. All she really did there was try to talk to Oz when he had expressed a need for space, and talk to Buffy about her feelings–both pretty normal reactions to what was going on. She was mostly acting out of guilt, and Oz was right on in pointing out that her repeated attempts to talk things out with him were more about making herself feel better than about respecting his needs–but still, pretty normal stuff…)

    Your final question–did she always have this flaw, or did the magic make her this way–gets to the heart of my issue. I mean, sure, we could make sense of what I see as the inconsistencies in her characterization by going with the “the magic made her this way” theory…but that’s not very interesting or satisfying, is it? Then her story essentially boils down to: “she was this great person with all this potential, but then she started developing magic as a way of helping fight evil, and unfortunately the magic ‘magically’ changed her into a different, less admirable person.” Bleah. For Willow’s descent into darkness to be interesting or meaningful, it would need to have represented an extension of traits that she had always had–and personally, I just can’t see that as being the case.

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  38. [Note: Alex C. posted this comment on May 20, 2014.]

    Interesting comment, and I can see the point that you’re looking to make, but I have to disagree with the thrust of it.

    Willow is, as you put it, a “studious, hard-working, compassionate, thoughtful” person in the main. However, I would hesitate before describing her as “admirable”. She certainly has many qualities that are commendable, and she’s a decent young woman at heart. But I also think that she is characterised quite consistently as being the least ethical of the Scoobies, and the one of them with the biggest moral blind-spots. Her reaction to Oz leaving her in S4 is far from being the only example of pre-S6 behaviour which feeds into the “consistent and disturbing pattern” surrounding the darker side of her character, and which foreshadows the end-point eventually reached in the 6th season.

    Is Willow a “compulsive rule-follower who seeks the approval of authority figures and tends to let others walk all over her”, as you put it? I would argue that she is nothing of the sort. Remember, even pre-S1 she was spending her down-time in illegal computer hacking on a fairly routine basis. It’s true that Willow does often allow people to walk over her in the earlier seasons, but I think the show did a very good job of making clear that she loathed herself for letting them do it, and that her ‘goody-two-shoes’ personna was rooted more in a crippling lack of self-confidence than anything else. The most important authority figure in her life for most of the show was Giles (her parents being mostly absentee), and her relationship with him was anything but submissive – from Season 2 onwards we see her straining against the limits he tries to place on her, beginning the growing tension that eventually erupts in the 6th Season. (It’s also noteworthy just how much Willow resents her percieved status as Buffy’s “side-kick”).

    Nor do I see a lot of evidence that her personal experience of being unpopular and rejected (which she really didn’t cope that well with, as we see) gave her much empathy or tolerance for other people in the underdog position. She shows compassion and understanding toward Buffy or Xander if they’re in pain, but the people outside their circle don’t seem to merit much consideration from her – we don’t really see anything from Willow that echoes the sort of connections with strangers that Buffy occasionally forms, for example. In fact, we see with Anya that Willow can become quite hostile to those she percieves as outsiders trying to come inside that circle. I think it’s also quite significant that through Season 3, out of all the Scoobies it is Willow who carries the biggest grudge against Faith – despite having been the one who was least hurt by her. The tirade that she unleashes on her in “Choices” feels like a triumph for Willow in the moment, but in hindsight it’s not without a layer of dark irony to it.

    There’s also no getting around the streak of manipulativeness underlying her relationship with Tara a good deal of the time (beginning right off the bat in Season 4), or how often and easily she makes the assumption that her superior judgment means that the normal rules don’t apply to her. I think that “Restless” forms the ultimate statement on the subject: Willow was always carrying a lot of darkness in her, with roots stretching all the way back to the beginning, and sooner or later it was going to find an out.

    (Interesting aside: for anyone who thinks that the plotline in S6 wherein Willow altered Tara’s memories came out of left field, I would point out that in her “Restless” sequence, the words that she’s painting on Tara’s back are from a poem by Sappho, which ends thusly:

    Thou, blessed one, smiling with immortal countenance,
    didst ask what now is befallen me, and why now I call,
    and what I in my mad heart most desire to see.
    “What Beauty now wouldst thou draw to love thee?
    Who wrongs thee, Sappho?
    For even if she flies she shall soon follow,
    and if she rejects gifts shall yet give,
    and if she loves not shall soon love, however loth.”

    “If she loves not, shall soon love, however unwilling.”?? There’s no way that isn’t a sign that something troubling lurks in Willow’s subconscious.)

    Bottom line: I fall very much into the camp which says that magic didn’t change Willow – it just facilitated certain aspects of her personality being brought to the fore. A lot of the traits half-concealed under her cuetsy personna do make her a much less admirable character – but they do make her a more interesting one.

    Her characterisation was not always rock-solid in its effect (there is no way to see the drugs-metaphor as anything but a mistake, in my book), but I do think that it was consistent.

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  39. [Note: Freudian Vampire posted this comment on May 20, 2014.]

    I agree with the majority of your post, Alex, but I think that in your haste to point out the more unsavoury aspects of Willow’s character you are forgetting some of the things which showcase her in a more positive light. You claim that

    She shows compassion and understanding toward Buffy or Xander if they’re in pain, but the people outside their circle don’t seem to merit much consideration from her – we don’t really see anything from Willow that echoes the sort of connections with strangers that Buffy occasionally forms, for example.

    in response to Penguin’s assertion that she empathizes strongly with other underdogs and outcasts, and while I agree that Buffy in particular was far better in forming bonds with others, there are several moments in the series where we see Willow becomes very defensive when her friends or people she relates with are criticized. To take an early example, her reaction to Cordelia and Harmony’s comments about Buffy in “The Harvest” provoke her to stand up and state her support for someone she has only known for perhaps a day. Or, to take another season 1 example, how about “Out of Mind, Out of Sight”? Before it is revealed to the Scoobies and the audience that Marcie is nothing less than a full-blown psychotic, Willow stands up for her, clearly because she herself understands the feeling of being ignored and forgotten. If I recall correctly, she is also supportive of the boy in “The Puppet Show” when he is suspected of being the heart-stealer.

    Since all three of my examples are from the first season, it’s quite possible these aspects fade into the background as the series progresses – not improbably, as Willow’s increase in confidence means she is less likely to identify with and project onto underdogs or social outcasts. But the trait is very definitely there.

    I would also like to stand up in favour of “Wrecked” and the magic addiction plotline from season 6, as I feel it is far too vociferously attacked and that it’s bad reputation is (mostly) undeserved. There is no denying that their approach to the topic is hamfisted at best, and that this flaw is one of the main contributors to the mid-season slump. However, I strongly disagree that this is out-of-character for Willow, and more importantly I think that however the execution may have wavered, it was in fact a natural and necessary step in the build-up to the unleashing of Dark Willow in “Seeing Red” and “Villains”. Much of the frustration with her arc is that people feel it simplified her character, and turned what was an interesting story about insecurity and control into a simple parable about the dangers of drug addiction.

    I agree only in part with this sentiment. On the one hand, I think the troubled execution of this storyline, mainly in “Wrecked”, was a severe flaw and damaging to not only that episode but the cluster that follow it. I do not, however, agree that the concept was inherently bad. I am of the belief (and this seems to be supported by Giles’ comments in early season 7, specifically “Lessons” and to a lesser extent “Beneath You”) that the Rack addiction was a mislead, and that the characters completely misinterpreted Willow’s problems. This meant that the underlying causes were not in fact resolved, and is a large reason for why Willow would so easily lose control at the end of the season.

    Communication and understanding between the Scoobies has been rocky at best since “Becoming”. In “Dead Man’s Party”, the very important argument they were having is interrupted by the pack of zombies and as a result the issues brought up were never really dealt with (not a mistake, but a deliberate move on the part of the writers, and a large reason why I think season 3’s subtle follow-through from the Angelus arc is not a weakness but an incredible strength, but that’s a rant for another review.) Since then, Buffy conceals Angel’s return from her friends, Xander does not tell anybody about having sex with Faith and the group’s bond gradually deteriorates over the course of season 4, culminating in the fight in “The Yoko Factor”. Then, much like “Dead Man’s Party”, a bigger issue comes up (the Adampocalypse) and so the group settle their differences without having actually sorted out the problem.

    This ripple, beginning with Xander’s lie and Buffy skipping town in “Becoming”, subtly changes the group dynamics and is a huge influence on everything that occurs for the last five seasons. Thus, I find it perfectly believable that Buffy and co. would not know Willow well enough any more to realize that her addiction to magic was merely a symptom of her real problem, and not the issue in and of itself.

    The vitriol thrown at “Wrecked” is incredible, and I feel that most of it comes from the fact that people really misinterpret what the episode was actually meant to achieve. This is also how I feel about, as said before, the criminally underrated “Dead Man’s Party”.

    Wow, that was a bloated response. TL;DR version: Willow is occasionally nice, and “Wrecked” is better than most think.

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  40. [Note: Other Scott posted this comment on May 20, 2014.]

    FV, did you see the Defending Wrecked thread on the forum, where I pretty well argued the same thing you did here? It predated you on the forum by about a month I think.

    I also agree that Willow can be supportive to those around her, or at least tries to be. In fact, she can often try too hard by using her own flawed morality to solve other people’s problems (Forever). In fact, I think what she did to Tara and tried to do to Oz wasn’t a sign of not having much empathy or tolerance for them, she just truly doesn’t understand what’s wrong with what she’s doing. I think most if not all of Willow’s problems stem from a lack of knowledge of boundaries, even moreso than selfishness.

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  41. [Note: FlyingPenguin posted this comment on May 20, 2014.]

    Wow. You (and, it would seem, numerous others on this site) definitely have a very different view of Willow than I do!

    If I tried to respond to you point for point, I’m not exactly sure how I’d fare. I mean, a few responses do come to mind right off the bat, but I might struggle to come up with enough evidence to really make my case. Whether this is because my case is un-makable, or just because I can’t easily call to mind all the evidence for it, is hard to say. Certainly, though, the exercise would require more time and effort that I can devote to it right now. So I guess I’m more inclined to think this over as I continue re-watching (though part of me also now wishes I’d been more explicitly thinking about this question while re-watching up to the point I’m at now…), and see what I end up thinking.

    I will, though, just throw this out there: In this episode, when the rest of the gang thinks Willow is dead, Giles says “She was truly the finest of all of us,” and Xander agrees, adding “Way better than me.” And these lines ring true–not literally, in that I think Willow is “better” (whatever that might actually mean) than Giles or Buffy or Xander (who all, of course, have their individual strengths and weaknesses, as does Willow), but I totally buy that they feel this way, and it relates to how I see the character. Am I alone in this? Because I can’t reconcile this reaction (mine or that of the other characters) at all with a view of Willow as the “least ethical” member of the group. Would it be your view that she has, in some sense, pulled the wool over the eyes of her friends, then?

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  42. [Note: Alex C. posted this comment on May 20, 2014.]

    I wouldn’t say that she’s “pulled the wool over the eyes” of her friends – because that implies a conscious deception, which I don’t think is what’s going on. Willow’s friends simply don’t recognize the darkness that’s in her, and this falls quite neatly into the larger pattern that we see play out through the show wherein the Scoobies frequently fail to understand important things about each other – often because they’re too close and emotional to see things that are right under their noses. It doesn’t help that Willow herself doesn’t recognize it – and she’s smart enough to delude herself about her own actions a lot of the time.

    Giles’ line about Willow being “truly the finest of all of us” doesn’t really ring true to me as a statement about the character beyond being the sort of thing that you’d expect grieving friends to say and agree with about the (percieved) loss of a beloved and admired companion. I think that a much more telling moment from this episode – in that it speaks to how her friends have an imperfect understanding of her – is when Buffy tries to tell Willow that she shouldn’t worry about what the vampire version of herself is like, because a vampire’s personality has nothing to do with the person they used to be – and Angel goes to correct her. In the moment it’s humourous, but to borrow your own words from #39, the most important takeaway of this episode is that it marks the point when a number of aspects of Willow’s character arc, which had previously been semi-concealed, start to come out into the open.

    I would also note that when I say that Willow is the “least ethical” of the Scoobies, this does not mean that she is an unethical or amoral person per se – just that she is less ethical than Buffy, Xander, or Giles. In a given situation, she is simply quicker than they are to dispense with concern for doing the *right* thing in favour of what she thinks is the *correct* thing (which in her mind can mean quite the same thing) – and she wouldn’t hesitate as much as they would to cut corners to get there (in fact, she tends to revel in the subversive thrill of rule-breaking). This is dangerous, because her awareness of her own brilliance gives her the confidence to think she always has the right answer, when in fact her judgement is a lot more flawed.

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  43. [Note: Sasukespecialman posted this comment on May 20, 2014.]

    Nah, you are not alone. I also notice a pretty palpable tension in the presentation of Willow’s character throughout the series. When the writers want to hint at her potential dark side, they go all out, and then kind of return to normal when it’s over. There is also a noticeable difference in how she is presented in the first three seasons vs. the last three. The self-confidence = desire for control narrative isn’t so apparent to me in the early going. I think “Restless” does a great of exploring the self-loathing that Willow maintains as a character trait, but I am not sure that Dark Willow ever struck me as a “natural” result of her tendencies. Before season 6, I can’t think of any time that she used her powers in such an abusive manner – except by accident or when something backfires. When she fought Glory, for example, her rage and power was quite focused and never felt as if it was beyond her control. I think the particular arc that the writers put together in season 6 adds a new reading to older events, and makes the viewer look at the them in a new way. That can be a great thing, but can also retroactively justify a direction that wasn’t necessarily the only one to take. I also want to thank Alex for the poem contextualization. That is mighty interesting!

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  44. [Note: Freudian Vampire posted this comment on May 20, 2014.]

    We have to remember that Willow copes very badly with pain and loss, which is why she so swiftly resorts to magic to change things to her liking. There are numerous examples of this littered throughout the series (“Wild at Heart”, “Something Blue” and “Tabula Rasa” foremost among them, but to a lesser extent “Tough Love” as well). Willow does not seem to grasp that grieving takes time and goes to the spellbook to make the hurting stop immediately. In “Wild at Heart”, she showcases her capacity for vengeance with her attempt to curse Oz and Veruca; she stops short at the last moment, but the intent was there. In “Something Blue”, she first turns to the relief of alcohol, but when that is taken away from her she uses magic to stop her pain – I wonder what Tara would have said about abusing her power for such selfish motives. The rest, Ii’m sure, I do not have to go into.

    So when Warren murders Tara in front of her, it’s no surprise she flies off the handle. But this time, she has a clearer focus for her hatred than ever before and is also, despite her brief hiatus, far more powerful than ever she has been in the past.

    The only place where I think the Dark Willow arc seriously falters is with the Proserpexa plot and the attempt to destroy the world, but that’s another discussion entirely.

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  45. [Note: FlyingPenguin posted this comment on May 22, 2014.]

    FV, I agree both that the attempt to destroy the world thing was the least plausible/most problematic aspect of the Dark Willow story…and also that that’s a whole other topic. 🙂

    Alex, I hear what you’re saying in your clarification that “less ethical than the others” doesn’t necessarily mean “wildly unethical”–but it’s still different from how I’ve always seen the character; I would have inclined toward calling her one of the most ethical of the group (at least, prior to season 6 and outside of the scattered instances when, from my perspective, she seems to behave out of character because the writers are trying to set up/forshadow her season 6 arc). But as I said, I will think this over as I continue my current re-watch!

    (I had a little more to say here, but ran out of time–so I’ll have to get back to this later…)

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  46. [Note: Lydia posted this comment on May 31, 2014.]

    This is probably one of the most foreshadowy episodes of Season 3! I wonder if this was intended by the writers or not, nonetheless, an episode like this one is extremely fun in retrospect!

    We finally got a great Willow centric episode, and the idea was truly great and you can tell that the writers had fun playing around with it. It was hilarious from start to finish, and laced with hidden character development, perspective and foreshadowing. Which just makes it even more awesome! Love Anya here, trying to get a beer and then just adjusting with Coke. Angel unleashing into an emotional riot about the death of Willow and then going “Hi, Willow” was also equally hilarious. Then finally Willow’s cute smile and wave towards Oz!
    Also, Willow gets her hand stuck in a girl’s hair. I don’t know if it’s just me but that girl looked a lot like Tara!

    Anyway, this is a highlight episode in Willow’s development and this is where you truly come to understand her character arc. She’s letting go of the last shreds of insecurities she has over here for something better. It was executed really well by the means of the Vamp Willow arc. I love how the minute she’s transported back to her ‘world’, she gets killed off. Great consistency by the writers. I almost felt bad for her and then remembered she was an evil fiend.

    Also, Cordelia’s monologue about the ‘Ethics of boyfriend steal’ was a long time coming in my opinion. Sure, it wasn’t to the right Willow, but it was still something that I think Cordy needed to get out of her system. We only see cold dialogues from Cordy and only a few glimpses at her nice-self throughout this season, but it’s fundamental for her to get over the whole Xander fiasco before she can allow herself to truly move on. So I think she needed that.

    I love how the writers can squeeze in these subtle character moments into episodes that are entirely about something else. It’s done effortlessly and plays in well with the character and seasonal themes. I think that’s the perk of having amazing writers.

    Also, I made a tiny discovery that I’m not sure is plausible or not. Wesley and Willow have quite a few similarities. They both will do anything (whether right or wrong) to get done what they believe is correct, so their moral limits are a little hazy. They both are outlandishly smart. They both seem like these totally ethical, holier-than-thou type characters that can do no wrong. But they seem to mess up the most! Most of the times, even when their intentions are pure, they end up doing unfavorable things. They both fall hopelessly in love (Tara, Fred) and then retaliate to their deaths with huge emotional outbursts. They both have a hard time trying to become accepted again after their respective fall-outs with their groups. Both of them get addicted and drawn to the dark side (Lilah’s black and white makes grey speech comes to mind) Wesley got his throat cut and all his friends abandoned him, after which he felt drawn to Lilah for emotional and physical comfort while Willow was feeling drawn to dark magic for the same. And, they’re both very conflicted characters, who have a lot to learn, have made a lot of mistakes, but are just very flawed yet pure-hearted human beings when all is said and done. This makes for great, very complex characters. I wish they had interacted a bit more on the series, a heated discussion between them would’ve made for golden television.

    Anyway, that’s all I’ve gotta say for now. I can’t believe the numerous amount of giant comments I’ve posted on this site. Hahaa.

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  47. [Note: FlyingPenguin posted this comment on June 8, 2014.]

    Here’s a question which admittedly has little to do with this episode, but does relate to the discussion we were having about Willow above (“least ethical member of the Scoobies”): Why should we judge Willow’s actions–either in Wild at Heart when she almost curses Oz & Veruca, or in season six when she kills Warren, any differently from how we judge Buffy in Graduation Day for her decision and attempt to kill Faith? I mean, I don’t approve of any of these decisions (nor am I sure I quite find any of them “in character”), but they do seem fairly similar to me. They’re all cases where a character, under the influence of severe emotional trauma, decides/tries to hurt or kill another person. You might argue that Buffy’s case is slightly different since she was doing it in part to cure Angel and not purely for revenge–but since it clearly wasn’t the only option available for curing Angel (and since it’s hard to imagine her having tried it if Faith had been innocent), I’m not sure that really excuses it very much.

    Thoughts?

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  48. [Note: Dylan posted this comment on August 28, 2014.]

    My favourite line from this episode is when vamp Will chucks him over the snooker table uttering “bored now.”

    Perfect line when rewatching with obviously what’s to come!

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  49. [Note: nathan.taurus posted this comment on November 15, 2014.]

    It just occurred to me: why did Giles and the gang return to the library straight after they left? Willow couldn’t call them.

    And who stripped vampire Willow? They had to strip her and then put Willow’s cloths on her which would take some time. Probably Willow and Buffy… that would have been awkward.

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  50. [Note: Bored Vampire posted this comment on November 20, 2015.]

    I don’t think the Dark Willow arc was out of character at all. We see a progression from Willow throughout the entire series. In season 2 we see Willow grow in confidence and then perform a pretty powerful spell. We see that Willow struggles to deal with her emotion, and makes poor choices. She tries to do a de lusting spell without Xander’s permission, in this episode, out of anger performing she performs a dangerous spell. Then we have Vampire Willow showing that there is darkness in Willow, as she isn’t just any regular vampire, she is a big bad vamp. And as Angel says a vampire does take your personality.

    Willow by this stage is increasing in power. Season 4 D’Hoffryn offers Willow Anya’s old job of a vengeance demon after not being able to control her emotions and, well causing havoc. Accompany this with Giles numerous warning about how dangerous Magic is, indicating that it can take over you. What happens in season 6 isn’t far fetched.

    In season 5, we have Glory who sucked Tara’s brain, and what does Willow do, she goes to the black magic section, and despite Buffy’s warnings attacks Glory. That was basically suicide, highlighting that she can’t control her emotions. And throughout this season, Willow has become the most powerful member of the scoobies and she knows it.

    While Buffy is dead, the scoobies are definitely more down, and Willow’s power is still forever increasing, and manages to ressurect Buffy. This spell if not already, was the defining moment for Willow that she can do anything, there isn’t anyone who can stop her. As seen when Giles calls her an amateur and calls her very lucky. Right off the bat in season 6, before it is even mentioned you can see Willow using many more spells to solve problems. This is her growing confidence. And when she has a big fight with Tara, as she struggles to deal with her emotions she wipes her memory and again in Tabula Rasa. This is different to Oz, as now she knows she has the power to do anything.

    Another big factor is, none of her friends really notice, or help her out with magics when she is clearly struggling. This is because they have separated a lot from the first 2 seasons. All focusing on the problems in their own lives. This eventually leads to Tara’s death right in front of her. She waste’s no time trying to ressurect her, and the moment she realises that there is no possible way to save Tara she snaps. All the emotion building up over years, and this year in particular knowing she is stronger than almost everyone, can’t save Tara. Goes on an ultimate vengeance spree, with the dark magics and grief controlling all her reason and logic. Her mind is so clouded, she simply doesn’t care anymore and wants it to end. Also a bit of a superiority complex going on here with her fight with Buffy, she doesn’t want to be known as the side kick.

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