Buffy 3×17: Enemies

[Review by Mike Marinaro]

[Writer: Douglas Petrie | Director: David Grossman | Aired: 03/16/1999]

I’ll just say outright that I’m not a big fan of this episode. Like all of BtVS there is always good stuff within a poor plot which is exactly what happens here. I just hate the idea of making us think that Angel lost his soul again because we’ve seen Angelus so recently. While I’m glad they were faking it to trick Faith and the Mayor, I’m still not pleased with most of the execution. I didn’t like how Giles just happened to know the guy who the Mayor used to yank Angel’s soul. Not all of it was poor though! I adored the stabilizing relationship between Faith and the Mayor along with the new information we got about the Mayor himself. So lets gets started with the specifics.

The episode begins with Buffy and Angel coming out of what appeared to be an erotic foreign film. Not the best choice of entertainment for this couple as Buffy pointedly observes. This entire little conversation between the two of them is very amusing. She thinks she’s getting him “worked up” when doing stuff like this with him. I can sympathise with Angel when he says just being with Buffy is all he needs to get worked up. I also appreciated seeing him show Buffy that he is in complete control of his emotions.

The Mayor’s relationship with Faith continues to grow more fascinating. It is now very clear that he sees himself as a father to Faith. She’s not sure she’s comfortable with this but soon warms up to the idea. She then begins to show that affection in reverse. It’s so unique and odd to love the bad guys so much you almost hope they win. I’m pleased that Faith still hasn’t completely lost it yet by her reaction to violently murdering a demon. She does, however, repress her feelings very easily to be able to use that experience to try to seduce Angel. It’s also interesting to see Faith throwing nonstop jabs at Buffy once she thinks she has her chained to the wall later on.

It’s unfortunate, but that’s about where the major positives end. I’ve got some real fundamental problems with the way this episode was handled. First off is Buffy’s reactions involving Angel and Faith. Buffy and Angel have been through so much together that there should be a level of trust between the two of them. Unless Buffy sees some indisputable evidence that Angel for some reason doesn’t love her completely anymore, she shouldn’t assume he doesn’t! This annoying behavior arises twice here. I could understand it when she saw him with Drusilla back in “Lie to Me” [2×07] because their relationship was still largely unexplored at that point. At least Willow points out that she’s acting insane over this. Not only is her reaction silly, but the fact that she walks in on Angel and Faith right when Faith briefly kisses him on the cheek is simply poor writing. The other time Buffy acts in an annoying way is at the end when she needs to “break it off” with Angel because of what she had to watch him do with Faith. She still thinks that he might rather be with Faith than with her. Come on Buffy!

The main plot is simply completely unnecessary. Why does the Mayor even want to remove Angel’s soul? Is this just something to pass the time to his ascension? Why wouldn’t he be even more focused on killing Buffy now that he knows that she knows he’s up to something really bad? I also didn’t care for the fact that we’re led to believe that Angel actually lost his soul again until the end of the episode. I would have preferred it if we’d known he was playing Faith from the start. It would have made the episode fun which would help offset the uselessness of it. The scene where Buffy first thinks Angelus is back is frustrating to watch. We’ve seen Angelus so recently that even Angel faking it isn’t interesting to see right now.

So overall it’s a pretty mixed bag. The main plot isn’t terrible and it does provide some admittedly fun moments including Angel punching Xander out, Angel throwing a letter opener at the Mayor, the group finding out that Faith is now working for the Mayor, and Angel’s “second best” moment. But ultimately it’s a waste of an episode because the important material could have easily been wrapped up in a more important plot. It’s really difficult to give an episode of this series a really low score because the character interaction is always so entertaining and interesting. That holds true here as well.


Minor Pros/Cons (+/-)

+ A demon wanting money for the Books of Ascension.
+ The Mayor offering the hooded guy a mint.
+ Cordelia’s nonstop flirting with Wesley.
+ The additionaly information on the Mayor. He’s been the Mayor for a hundred years.
+ The Mayor comforting Faith with fatherly love and the prospect of minature golf. My reaction is exactly what Faith’s reaction is.




78 thoughts on “Buffy 3×17: Enemies”

  1. [Note: CinnamonCarter posted this comment on April 18, 2007.]

    I re-watched this episode last night and agree totally with your assessment of it – seeing Angel pretend to be Angelus is unnecessary and uninteresting in the light of the major threads of this season. We’ve been there, done that, gone to hell and back and now there’s more important things to focus on! At first I thought it was just poor plot execution by Douglas Petrie, but no – Angelus has no place here, real or fake. I just felt bored seeing Buffy’s reaction to thinking he was back! The only good thing to come of it was seeing Faith drop all charade when she thought she had Angelus on her side. The side of her character that really ISN’T as self-reliant as she would like to believe (as Buffy says, she needed to chain Buffy up to beat on her) really comes out in force here, which I love. She comes across as weakest when she’s acting her toughest. THAT is good writing!


  2. [Note: Latoya posted this comment on May 1, 2007.]

    I don’t think Buffy doubted Angel loved her. She knew she couldn’t make love with him but maybe a apart of her knew that since it was a “perfect happiness” clause and not a “really good orgasm” clause, he could still have sex if he wanted to. She saw how sexually frustrated he was and was just afraid that maybe in a moment of weakness he would end up sleeping with Faith, who it had been established was a get some/get gone, overtly sexual, person who had no problem having one nighters with friends/allies.


  3. [Note: Jackie posted this comment on June 15, 2007.]

    Wow, Latoya – I have *never* heard that explanation in relation to Faith/Angel/Buffy, and suddenly eveything makes sense. Buffy wasn’t afraid that Angel *loved* Faith – she was afraid that he was a GUY. That completely changes my perspective on the relevence of this episode for me. I gotta say, for once, the subtlety went way over my head. The Angel/Buffy thing, despite the crazybadendingstarcrossedlovers aspect really IS still a metaphor for a “relationship with an older guy.” Thank you for that explanation!


  4. [Note: LibMax posted this comment on August 23, 2007.]

    I don’t have a problem with The Return of Angelus in this episode. The end of the episode makes it sort-of clear that Buffy, Giles, and Angel were all in cahoots from the beginning, which raises complicated questions of who told who what when. But it means that Buffy wasn’t being victimized, that she was in on the plan from the beginning. That does make it a bit unreasonable that she would blame Angel for playing up to Faith when that’s exactly what he was supposed to be doing, but since when has love been reasonable?

    The Mayor’s motive in taking Angel’s soul is fairly clear. His path to Ascension is far from a done deal – he needs the Box of Gavrok, for one thing. Buffy and Angel could stop him. Subtract Angel and add Angelus, and we have Buffy dead (with Faith’s help), maybe all the Scoobies dead, Angelus on the Mayor’s side, and clear sailing ahead. At worst, Angelus would have kept Buffy and the Scoobies busy and out of the Mayor’s hair for months, especially with Faith’s assistance.

    As for Giles’s motive (the general Scooby motive), they needed to know where they stood with Faith and they needed to know as much as they could about the Mayor’s plans. Buffy may also have wanted to know how things would play out between Angel and Faith (if so, it blew up in her face through no fault of Angel’s). As for Angel, they pretty much just used him, the way they did in The Dark Age and many other episodes.

    I don’t think the episode would have had much impact or entertainment value if they’d told us from the beginning that Angel was just pretending. This was an episode about deceit and betrayal, and I don’t think they could have played it for laughs. Faith, even evil Faith, meant more to us than that. And I liked the fact that, even though the Scoobies got what they wanted, nobody walked away whistling a happy tune. Season Three was all about choices and consequences (kind of hilarious that it includes episodes titled “Choices” and “Consequences”).


  5. [Note: LibMax posted this comment on August 23, 2007.]

    I will admit that it’s a pretty far-fetched coincidence that the Shrouded Sorcerer knew both Giles and the Mayor, if it really was a coincidence. It’s also possible that Giles and the sorcerer planned the whole thing and figured out a way to scatter enough hints across the Mayor’s path that he took the bait.


  6. [Note: buffyholic posted this comment on October 25, 2007.]

    I like this episode a lot, although I´m not too crazy about the plot. I couldn´t care less about Angelus here or even fake Angelus, he doesn´t bring anything to the arc. But my main reason for liking this so much is the wonderful character interaction and Faith and the Mayor. They are so great together and their relationship is really fascinating to watch. We have so many great moments, like when Angel punches Xander, Angel meeting the Mayor and my favourite when Faith is so confident in dissing Buffy down and saying stuff to her. Awesome. Really, all of these positive moments more than make up the poor plot, imo.


  7. [Note: Andrew posted this comment on January 29, 2008.]

    I agree with LibMax- weak as the episode was, it would have been much worse if we’d been in on the deception from the beginning.
    Regarding “Second Best”, I actually thought that was a low point for the episode- cool line though it is, and neat a way of revealing the true state of affairs though it is, it is *completely* out of character for Angel who is neither smug nor wise-cracking.
    The episode does open up a lot of who-told-what-when questions. When talking to Willow, Buffy clearly was genuinely worried about Angel/Faith. One assumes, therefore, that between that conversation with Willow and the next scene where Faith+Shrouded Sorceror “de-soul” Angel, Buffy went to Angel and they cooked up the whole plot. So where did Giles come in, and where did the Shrouded Sorceror come from?


  8. [Note: wilpy1 posted this comment on March 8, 2008.]

    I like the idea of this episode, but I don’t think it was pulled off well. If there had been more clues along the way, then the ‘gotcha’ moment at the end would’ve been more justified.

    I agree with Andrew that the ‘second best’ line is out-of-character. Not so much because Angel isn’t smug, but because a few episodes before, Angel empathised with Faith and was the only one who managed to reach through to her (or almost managed to). He established in this episode that they were very similar – so why on earth would he gloat about exposing her as evil? When he reached out again to her in ‘Five By Five’/’Sanctuary’ in ATS, that was much more consistent with ‘Consequences’ and everything before that in s3. ‘Enemies’ ruins that for some cheap fun. 😦

    Also, the ending of this episode: Buffy, give me a break, not Angel. Stop bouncing him back and forth like a rubber ball, he’s got pri — no, wait, he doesn’t. Boy, am I glad he left for ATS and became a better character.


  9. [Note: Tony posted this comment on June 19, 2008.]

    This is what pisses me off about this show a lot. I realized the show tends to use the easy way out all the time. Like this episode for example, where the sorcerer happened to know Giles, because Giles hooked him up with his wife… It’s just pure laziness on the writers for not wanting to have to think up something good. It’s happened many times, I just can’t think of anything else right now.


  10. [Note: Shular posted this comment on July 31, 2008.]

    Herein lies the downside of watching the shows on DVD. You say that it’s only recently that Angelus was around, but really, he hasn’t been seen since the last episode of season 2, and now we are at the 17th of season 3. That’s a good, what, 10 months? When watching the episodes as they aired, it would have seemed like ages since Angelus appeared, and I don’t doubt that a lot of viewers would not be surprised by a one-shot appearance.

    Funny, I never really thought of Angel’s “second best” as boasting. Just as a clever way of saying “jig’s up…we’re on to you now.”

    I also had a problem with the sorcerer knowing Giles. It definitely seemed a little contrived.


  11. [Note: Mr Trick posted this comment on October 14, 2008.]

    I agree with a lot of what you write here, but while at this point I’m completely burnt out on Angel/Buffy melodrama, there’s another way to interpret the whole break thing at the end. Seeing Angel act like Angelus might just have heightened her fears of bringing the demon out again. Rewatching this, I kept hoping she would say it straight out, but I don’t think it’s implausible to draw that conclusion.

    Also, the fact that Giles just happened be an acquaintance of the demon is a joke. It’s actually pretty funny. I mean, this is a show about a high school girl fighting vampires. I think they’re allowed to take certain liberties.


  12. [Note: bigmoneygrip posted this comment on October 23, 2008.]

    If I were a casual fan of the show, I would have liked it a whole lot more. I wanted to like it more. I love shows that have hidden twists that aren’t revealed until the end. However, as Mike and the other great comments point out, it doesn’t flow well with the whole Buffy storyline. Parts of it do, but as pointed out, there are too many holes and “huh?” moments. Nevertheless, I found it enjoyable, maybe a bit frustrating, but mostly enjoyable.

    Have I mentioned how cute Willow is?


  13. [Note: bigmoneygrip posted this comment on October 23, 2008.]

    Oh, one more thing. The demon that was going to trade the ascension books for 5K that Faith killed – I was CERTAIN that it was Clint Howard (Ron Howard’s brother). But, nope, I was wrong.


  14. [Note: HarFang posted this comment on October 23, 2008.]

    It’s funny because I really liked that episode when I first saw it -partly because I was proud of myself for guessing it was a setup. And I still love how, after chaining Buffy up, Angel glances at her in a way that positively screams that he hasn’t turned bad at all.
    Now that I’ve watched the episode a few times, however, I’m starting to get your points. I really hadn’t thought about “second best”, although Angel can be pretty harsh on occasion, and Faith really had it coming. What bothers me a lot is Angel’s meekness, he’s so much cooler when he’s being bad (even though honestly I can’t blame Buffy for being creeped out, because he looked like he was having a really good time there). Actually, someone once pointed out that, as AtS was about to be launched, Angel became more a prop than a real character in season 3, being acted upon more than he acted himself during the whole season.
    Finally, frankly the twist with Giles’s demon friend doesn’t bother me at all. First because I prefer humorous mystification to a long-winded but rational explanation, and secondly because this type of absurd non-explanation is almost a fixture of the Whedonverse (just like Oz asking “how did Jordy become a werewolf? …hmm”)


  15. [Note: Jav posted this comment on December 12, 2008.]

    I just rewatched this episode, and the reaction I had from a friend I was showing it to was (at the end) “Why’s Buffy mad at Angel?”, and my initial reaction was that it was sort of a lame “create nonexistent Buffy angst” thing. My second thought was that Buffy was probably shaken up from seeing ‘fake’ Angelus in any form, and needed a ‘break’ from being around Angel. I’m a fan of Latoya’s explanation above, something I hadn’t considered at all, except that the scene really hinted toward a big lack of trust on Buffy’s side concerning Angel/Faith.

    Overall, I realized I was wicked excited to see this ep again mostly for certain scenes, and that the only way to watch this episode is to see the plot contrivances as the silly, funny fluff and the character development (Faith & the Mayor, Willow’s confidence, the beginning B/A, etc., are all great) as the gold. The entertainment factor’s still pretty high, and it doesn’t really bring down the momentum from Doppelgangland (pure awesome) and Earshot (also awesome). 🙂


  16. [Note: AAA posted this comment on December 24, 2008.]

    I am really amazed at how many episodes the guy who writes the reviews of this site , of season 3 , misunderstood. Please watch season 3 again because your ideas about most episodes of it ,are just wrong. If Buffy did not react in the way she did (which is nothing out of the ordinary) at Angel and Faith fake relationship then that would be unrealistic. If the episode was any different it would have been worse.


  17. [Note: Buffy Puissance 7 posted this comment on January 27, 2009.]

    i love the idea of this epi. the suspense is great the so the end!! my favorite moment is when Angel says that Faith’s the second best actor. i love Faith’s move on this quote. if her look could kills…


  18. [Note: Maddy posted this comment on February 28, 2009.]

    I enjoyed this episode, dispite some little flaws.
    I love Cordelia and Wesley’s relationship in this ep, it really starts and the way Cordelia is in a complete daze with Wesely during their meeting in the library is rather amusing.
    I thought it was a brilliant idea to bring Angelus back, I prefer him a lot more to Angel he seems to talk A LOT more which is comforting as I think Angel is scary the way he hardly says a full sentance it makes you wonder what he is thinking, I think Angel is a lot more harder to read and undertstand than Angelus.
    I also think that Buffy’s reaction about the whole faith and Angel Kiss on the cheek thing was about perfect keeping in mind that she had just found out that Xander and Faith had unexpectedly slept with eachother it would be hardly surprising if Angel did the same thing, especially since she can sense his sexual tension and that Faith doesn’t show any remorse or guilt about 1-night stands.
    Overall I think this deserves around the 85 mark, it’s nice to see Giles loosen up a little,Oz and Willow look cuddly again and to see that Buffy does care about Angel.
    All in all a very enjoyable yet mysterious episode.


  19. [Note: Bill posted this comment on March 7, 2009.]

    As was said previously, Buffy’s need for a break didn’t have anything to do with Faith, but rather seeing Angel act like Angelus. This episode just goes to show that she’ll really never get over the months of hell that guy put her through.


  20. [Note: Emily posted this comment on March 22, 2009.]

    I like Latoya’s explanation of why Buffy needed a break from Angel. I also think that some people, when they see the love of their life and their greatest enemy making out, need a break from the love of their life, even if it’s fake. It’s something that’s difficult to watch, and I, for one, would need some time to work thorugh that. Some people are the type to work it through with their boyfriend, but we know Buffy isn’t exactly known for her communication skills with the people she loves.

    Andrew, it was totally not out of character for Angel. I think that if someone tries to hurt Buffy, he would be cruel to them. And that’s what Faith did- she put Angel in a situation where he had to hurt Buffy, and he lashed out at Faith because of that. That’s totally and completely IN CHARACTER.

    Furthermore, I agree with AAA. Mike, I think that you really misunderstand a lot of what’s going on in Season 3. I don’t know if it’s because you like Spike seasons more than Angel ones, or because you just don’t like the Mayor/Faith plot, but I think that you don’t fully appreciate what’s going on in this season. I also agree with AAA that there’s no other way for the episode to have been written. I think that a plot line with the audience knowing what’s going on throughout the whole episode would’ve been boring. I was pleasantly surprised the first time I saw it, especially at “second best,” and continue to love it every time I see it.


  21. [Note: MikeJer posted this comment on March 22, 2009.]

    Emily, what exactly is it that I misunderstood about Season 3? That’s your claim, yet I don’t see you offering up any examples to back up that claim. Do you think that maybe I just don’t like the season as much as yourself? That’s probably what’s at work here, and that’s completely fine. But I feel it’s incorrect to label it as “misunderstanding.”

    Also, I’m baffled by the notion that you think I didn’t like the Mayor/Faith plot. My reviews very clearly state the opposite — I love the Mayor/Faith plot, and even more so their relationship. Even in this review, I said the following:

    I adored the stabilizing relationship between Faith and the Mayor.

    I will admit that I find the later seasons more thematically rich and intellectually compelling than the earlier ones, but I still very much like the earlier seasons as well — especially the last half of S2. I’ve always felt, though, that S3 was a bit overrated.


  22. [Note: Emily posted this comment on March 23, 2009.]

    I’m working on it, Mike. Never thought you’d just take an unexplained comment like that and accept it lol. Also, I didn’t mean to sound insulting, if that’s how it sounded. In terms of the Mayor/Faith plot, I didn’t mean that you didn’t like the relationship between them (which I, too, love, and enjoy seeing it develop), but rather the whole Mayor’s ascension plan and how it affects the group. I’ll get back to you with my reasons.


  23. [Note: Selene posted this comment on July 8, 2009.]

    Am I the only one who sees the tragic irony in Willow, secure in her relationship with Oz, reassuring Buffy that Angel would never cheat on her when in the next season is the one who ends up getting cheated on?


  24. [Note: Lucy posted this comment on August 12, 2009.]

    The first time I watched this episode, I completely loved it. I was totally sucked into thinking that Angelus was back, and that ‘second best’ moment sent shivers down my spine. I know there’s a lot of holes in the plot, but they don’t really bother me in this episode. I haven’t liked it as much on watching it the second, third, fourth…..20th times, it’s a bit like if you watched the sixth sense again. Once you know the ending, it’s never going to be as good as that first time.

    Thanks for these reviews, by the way, Mikejer. I don’t mind if you don’t like the third season! (but I ruddy love it!)


  25. [Note: MikeJer posted this comment on August 12, 2009.]

    Lucy, thanks for the comment. I just want to clarify that I don’t like the third season… as much as a lot of the fan base does. This in no way means I don’t like it. I wouldn’t give a season I disliked an A-! Season 3 is an excellent season of television. I just feel it’s inferior to Season 2 and Season 5 (and in some ways Season 6 too). My problems with the season are outlined in my comprehensive Season 3 Review.


  26. [Note: AnonDk posted this comment on August 23, 2009.]

    I don’t have a problem with Angelus’ return-it added a lot of drama to the situation and made the fake out really satisfying. I was fine with that.

    What I have a problem is in the logistics. Buffy, Angel and Gile’s plan is just soooo underexplained. Who started distrusting Faith first? Who thought of faking Angel’s soul loss could lead to info on the Mayor? How did they manage to get the Mayor to hire the guy who had history with Giles? It just really doesn’t add up. Also I agree on Buffy/Angel-after everything they’ve been through, she should have more faith in their relationship and his genuine love for her, but no.

    That being said, I do like this episode. It’s probably my favourite Faith episode of season 3, has great performances from Gellar, Boreanaz and Dushku and that scene with Angelus and the Mayor is just great (Harry Groener never felt more credible as a villain when he was undermiming faux!Angelus, even though a lot of that was down to his power). It just loses serious points for pointless angst (pleeeease don’t go on a break, Buffy! You know ye’ll be together again by the next episode :() and slightly confusing plot (only confusing to service a, admittedly awesome, twist) that brings it down so.


  27. [Note: KatieJ posted this comment on September 30, 2009.]

    I really enjoyed and still enjoy this episode. And I see it as the turning point in season 3, when sides were chosen, and the battle (and Buffy-Angel breakup) began. I readily admit to being a suspension of disbelief sucker, but when Angel said “second best”, I let out a long-held breath. Now, on DVD, I can sit back and enjoy not-evil, evil Angel’s icky, sexy violence, without being all scared. I can also enjoy all dialog candy to its fullest. Xander’s “You how some people don’t like to say ‘I told you so’? not me. I told you so!” for example. Love your reviews MikeJer, but this episode always cemented my Buffy love affair.


  28. [Note: Christian posted this comment on October 1, 2009.]

    I thought this episode was really good, and like Latoya, I always understood Buffy’s reaction to Angel and Faith. Faith can give Angel something Buffy can’t… which is sex. Angel loves Buffy so much that if he made love with her he’d lose his soul… but with Faith it would just be sex, not actually a “moment of true happiness”. The opening scene explained Buffy’s frustration over the fact that they can’t make love, the rest of the episode just carried it out.

    This to me justifies Buffy’s decision to have a break. I think it finally hit her that being with Angel forever is going to be harder than it seems. This is a short lived reality check that goes away in the next couple of episodes but eventually makes its way back at the prom. Angel realizes that the “reality check” will never last if he stays, so he leaves.

    As cheesy as It may sound, I loved the last quote: “You still my girl?” “Always”… awwww =)


  29. [Note: Sam posted this comment on October 31, 2009.]

    I’m going to be daring here and just come right out with it: in a lot of ways, this is one of my favorite episodes of season 3.

    When Faith went to the mayor’s side I wasn’t really surprised, but I was upset. In Doppelgangland, I entertained the idea that she was playing double agent, what with her getting upset at the thought of killing Willow and all. This episode squashes any doubts about what side Faith is really on.

    I LOVE the Faith/Mayor relationship. At the beginning of the episode, it’s clear that he’s not totally embracing the father role, but wants her to buy into it (what kind of father tries to get his daughter to sleep with someone? No father I know, that’s for darn sure). By the end of the episode, though, he IS embracing the role, he IS Faith’s father figure, and it’s adorable.

    I never really saw Buffy stumbling upon Faith and Angel right when Faith kisses his cheek as poor writing; if she had stumbled along anytime else during their conversation, it would have looked a LOT worse.

    I also did not find bringing Angelus back in bad or demeaning in any way. I actually like Angelus way more than Angel in this series; at least when he’s Angelus, he has some sort of personality. I think the Mayor wants to bring him back because he doesn’t just want Buffy killed; he wants to put her through the worst pain imaginable beforehand.

    I loved the scene between Buffy and Faith at the mansion. My only issue with it is that Buffy keeps insulting Faith. I realize that Faith is trying to kill her here, but c’mon! This is the girl Buffy said she wasn’t going to give up on just two episodes ago. Faith’s pain and rage are so obvious here. I think it’s pretty out of character for Buffy to not even try to reach out to her, no matter how pissed at Faith she might be.

    I agree with Latoya, Bill, and Emily on Buffy’s reasons for needing a break. I also think that she must have been totally wigged out by seeing Angel channel his evil so well. She had to have realized that that evil doesn’t go away when Angel has his soul; it’s just surpressed.

    Just a few other things I love about this episode: the Mayor and Angel meeting (“attitude may get you attention, Angelus, but courtesy wins respect”). Faith telling Angel that she doesn’t want to end up like everyone said she would, “dead or alone or a loser”, and then Buffy calling her a loser later was GREAT writing. Xander “beating” the demon’s address out of Willy. “Angelus” and Faith fighting: “No, really, don’t get up.”

    I just all around love this episode. A lot. So sue me. =)


  30. [Note: Sam L posted this comment on October 31, 2009.]

    There is apparently more than one Sam on this board. I am not the Sam who wrote the above post, as Enemies is not one of my favorite episodes. I am the Sam who debated Shannon about Spike on the “As You Were” page, who despises “Normal Again”, and who made an unnecessary comment about Mike on the “After Life” page for which I apologized on the “End of Days” page. So I am changing my name to Sam L until I can figure out a name I like better. I hope this clears up some confusion.


  31. [Note: Sam posted this comment on November 1, 2009.]

    Sorry ’bout that…i’d go last initial, but it’s “L” so that would add some more confusion. Thank you for opening my eyes to the fact that I’m not the only Sam here.


  32. [Note: Ganix posted this comment on December 2, 2009.]

    Sorry but I have to disagree with you here. I happen to love this episode. When I first watched it it had my attention from the start until the end – and I still remember the first time I saw the moment when it is revealed that Angelus has not, in fact, returned.

    I guess it comes down to personal preference but I personally regard this episode as very clever (as always!) and incredibly watchable. It’s not my favourite season 3 episode, but it’s close.


  33. [Note: Nathan.Taurus posted this comment on January 1, 2010.]

    I think this episode deserves a little bit higher score as Faith finally shows her true colours towards Buffy to which Buffy realises what she might have to do.

    I liked the misdirection that Angelus had returned and Faith saying that she is the “worlds best actor” and Angel responding with “second best” along with the slow motion realisation from Faith.

    Although the show missed one of the biggest storyline threads with Faith proclaiming that “the Mayor built this town for demons to feed on-” and all that Buffy got from it was the last bit of “and come graduation day, he’s gettin’ paid.” In the last four seasons there could of been an episode about Sunnydale. What it was like before Wilkins arrived and re-named it. The town is a character in it’s own right and throughout the series we never got many answers to how it works, just more questions.

    This response would explain a bit of why people still live there, and we know from ‘Flooded’ that the property prices are cheaper than other towns.

    So this episode shows that everything that happens in Sunnydale throughout the seven seasons is in different ways because of Richard Wilkins.


  34. [Note: G1000 posted this comment on May 19, 2010.]

    I actually think the main “con” plot worked rather well. But I don’t buy what has happened to Faith. We’re supposed to believe that she’s gone from conflicted and troubled to truly evil in one episode?


  35. [Note: Nia posted this comment on May 19, 2010.]

    I agree that there should have been an episode about the town of Sunnydale. In many ways it was a main character on the series!

    I would have paid money to see a scene of Angel/Buffy inside that movie theater. And watched it many times.

    You just know Angel wanted an excuse to punch Xander. And he didn’t even know about the infamous “kick his ass” lie.

    I bet part of Buffy remembered having to endure watching Faith making out with Angel while Buffy was chained up and awaiting torture when she goes to LA in Sanctuary and then sees Angel and Faith sitting on Angel’s bed hugging with his shirt open. And in between those events was Faith switching bodies against Buffy’s will and having sex with Riley!


  36. [Note: Jason posted this comment on June 4, 2010.]

    Guess I’m in a minority here. I completely believed Angelus was back, felt saddened and sickened by it, and was completely stunned and elated when the trick was revealed. That stun and elation punctuated one of my favorite Buffy experiences so far. Awesome episode.


  37. [Note: Joe posted this comment on June 14, 2010.]

    I guess I just “saw” the twist coming–there was no way the writers would rehash Angelus at the end of season three. By the time of this episode’s original airing, it was pretty clear that the writers of this show weren’t into recycling, which was very refreshing considering that’s what most every other tv show at the time did. And what a cheap way to suck out Angel’s soul THAT would have been–really would have undermined the seriousness of how Angel lost his soul the first time, in my opinion.

    I agree with Mike here. This plotting is a bit sloppy, which is unfortunate, because the show is usually pretty careful about giving very subtle clues as to how and when a subversive plan comes together (though sometimes it’s TOO overt, as in “Showtime”), but here, there are just too many questions of basic plotting and structure. How/when did the gang start to suspect Faith had turned sides? How did Giles manage to know the exact person that was going to be used by the Mayor? Was the Mayor REALLY better off having Angelus? I mean, couldn’t a nice big cadre of vampires (like, I don’t know, the one that attacked the graduation ceremony) have gotten together and dusted Angel and killed Buffy? It seems a bit round-about. While the explanations for the reasons are there, they just seem inconsistent and, well, kind of stupid. Which is sad, considering how well the writers usually have command over their characters and actions.

    But if this is as sloppy as things ever get, one can understand why this is the best show ever.


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

    The Good:

    Xander asking if Giles has any sexy engravings, which goes back to ‘Witch’.

    “And on the day the words ‘flimsy excuse’ were redefined we stood in awe and watched.”

    Angel beating Faith while pretending to be Angelus. She seems much stronger in “AtS”

    Angelus is back. Even though it’s not real it’s still great to see him.

    The Mayor and Angel. “Have her home by eleven.” He’s the guy she can take home to Daddy.

    Faith and her slo-mo head turn when Angel reveals the truth. Knives to throats.

    Miniature Golf. His face with the big smile.

    The Bad:

    The demon selling the books makes the growling sound of a vampire.


  39. [Note: debisib posted this comment on June 6, 2011.]

    You know, when i read your review, I agreed with a lot of the things you said… but at the same time, i couldnt help but think about how much i liked the episode regardless.

    Right now, Im making my roomate watch it with me from the beginning and we just watched that episode. it took him the entirety of the second season to be interested in whats rly going on, and as ssn 3 has continued, hes been more and more interested. But this episode took the cake. As it ended he said ” now that was a fucking awesome episode.” At that moment he went back and started thinkin about how awesome the rest of the previous 5 or so episodes were. All of the sudden, because of this episode, he seems much more into it.

    I agree with the hokiness of the shaman knowing giles, but at the same time, my man ruperts got connections. It’s relatively believable. And you know what, he didnt see the twist coming at all… and i didnt either the first time around. It’s a much more important episode to the series than i think you are giving it credit for. The knowledge of Faith being evil was a pivotal part of the season, and the acting was great throughout. Angel also got to speak with the mayor first hand and find out his invincibility. Important things happened, and it was delivered in a tricky deceptive way.

    I think this deserves at least an 80. AT LEAST.


  40. [Note: MrFrye posted this comment on October 14, 2011.]

    I’m going to try applying fridge logic to this episode. The sequence of events I see is this:

    1) The Shaman finds out that the Mayor is looking for a demon to do something nasty and tells Giles about it. Giles then suggests that he take the job so they can find what the heck the Mayor is up to. I know this step is a little shaky, but it’s not actually ruled out by the conversation between the Mayor and the Shaman. In its defense, it’s much better then the contrived coincidence of the Shaman just happening to know Giles.

    2) The Shaman takes the job, and the Mayor tells him what he needs to do. The most important part of this step, and one which I haven’t seen anyone else mention, is that any plan given to the Shaman would surely have included some mention of Faith. After all, the Mayor had no reason to think that the Shaman was spying for the other side.

    3) The Shaman tells Giles the whole plan, which includes Faith’s part in it. Giles asks the Shaman to go through with it, except to not actually take Angel’s soul.

    4) Giles tells Buffy (and she tells Angel) about the Shaman, and together they work out a plan to entrap Faith. This is, however, the biggest hole in the plot. It doesn’t matter if you agree with my line of reasoning, this conversation had to have happened (in some form) sometime during the episode, and there is NOT a good spot for it.

    5) The Shaman pretends to take Angel’s soul, and everything else plays out exactly as shown.


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

    mixed feelings regarding this episode, there are some funny one liners, Giles asking whether Xander got a receipt for a bribe. The part about introducing the demon to his wife. oh and i liked seeing the inner workings of Buffy and Angel’s relationship when they aren’t staking vampires and killing demons.

    I also like seeing the relationship between Faith and The Mayor. Its an introducing one, not exactly as clear cut Father daughter as Giles and Buffy but still theres something similar to, only darker?

    The part about Angelus being back, i never truly believed it, i guess that was the point? That he was acting? So not really back…..a subtle shout out that he wasn’t evil. The scene with Buffy and Faith was great, the fight scenes and the moment that Faith told Buffy she wasn’t ready to kill her …yet. Sets the scene for Graduation day part 1 don’t you guys think?


  42. [Note: NewSpock posted this comment on August 20, 2012.]

    I would have rated this episode much higher (more like 85%). I think it was actually very entertaining! The reason for the major trying to make Angel evil again is that he wanted to help Faith. His fatherly love for Faith is what motivated him, the rest with gaining an additional ally is merely a bonus.

    Seeing Faith so down because she was so jealous of Buffy being so good and liked and having a boyfriend in Angel… the major thought that taking away Angel from Buffy might cheer up Faith with the possibility of gaining a boytoy for Faith.

    That the whole trap-plot was kept in secret until the end was imho a good way to keep up the thrill.


  43. [Note: katalina42 posted this comment on September 28, 2012.]

    I’m leaning more towards LibMax’s assessment of the episode, but appreciate MikeJer’s review as well- especially for creating a forum like this 🙂 One of the reasons I liked this episode was because of that scene where Buffy and Faith had knives to one another’s throat, and Faith says, “You kill me, you become me. I don’t think you’re ready for that.” (I’m paraphrasing. Then she kisses the top of Buffy’s head and leaves. I got chills! And that was the moment I really began to love Faith as a character, and the complex dynamic between Buffy and Faith (not unlike Spike and Angel)I don’t know if anyone has mentioned that scene above – I skimmed through the comments but might have missed it!


  44. [Note: Juan posted this comment on October 24, 2012.]

    I think is quite obvious Angel and Faith had sex when he is pretending to be Angelus and kisses Faith “on screen” while lying on the floor. Later on Buffy tells Willow “he was just acting”, Angel tells Buffy he “did not want to go so further” and Buffy says someghing about they get what they wanted. Not everything must be showed on screen! Buffy is then aware that Angel has shared an experience with her “girlfriend” that they will never do. So finally she realizes her relationship with Angel is pointless and she breaks with him. That makes more sense than upseting for a few fake kisses ( C’mon they are not twelve!)I like when Giles talks about demons in a crypt (Spike’s future lair) or when Faith kissesBuffy and says “you are not ready to kill me” before fleeing exactly as Angelus did las Season.


  45. [Note: Iguana-on-a-stick posted this comment on October 24, 2012.]

    I don’t think that interpretation is terribly likely, since over on Angel the series everybody, including Angel, still thinks that any sex will make him lose his soul. Witness the whole Darla arc and its culmination. And all the eunuch jokes. Besides, if they wanted something like that to be the explanation they would have showed it. It’s not like this show shied away from depicting sex either before or after this. The only times when they used euphemistic images was when the network baulked at depictions of lesbian sex.


  46. [Note: TheShanshuProphecy posted this comment on October 24, 2012.]

    Completely agree with IguanaThere is no indication at all of this – Buffy was hurt by both seeing Faith + Angel share physical intimacy and also being reminded about how Angelus acted and treated her.


  47. [Note: Alex posted this comment on November 6, 2012.]

    Angel and Faith didn’t have sex. Within the course of the episode we’re led to believe that they might have, when we still think that Angel has really lost his soul. But once it’s revealed that he was just acting all along, there’s no way he would have had sex with her. As Iguana says, he still believes that sex = loss of soul at this point. Why would he risk that?And then in Sanctuary Faith makes a comment about screwing Buffy’s boyfriend, and Angel says ‘Faith, you and I never actually…’ which proves this pretty conclusively, I think.That’s not to say that things didn’t get pretty hot and heavy between them. We aren’t talking about just a few chaste pecks on the cheek here. But do you seriously think that only twelve year old girls would get upset about their boyfriends kissing other women?


  48. [Note: Alex posted this comment on November 6, 2012.]

    Also, when Angel says he never wanted it to go that far, I didn’t think he was talking about ‘going that far’ sexually with Faith. I thought he was talking about his portrayal of his soulless self (I try to avoid calling that ‘Angelus’ whenever possible) and how he had to treat Buffy while playing that role. He didn’t want to expose her to that again, even if it was all pretend.


  49. [Note: BuffyFan67 posted this comment on April 21, 2013.]

    I see it’s been awhile since anyone posted here, but I’ve been “Buffy-Binging” on NetFlix this week. I wanted to address the Giles/Sorcerer connection:

    1st-Giles comes from a family of Watchers, so both his knowledge of and connections in the world of magics is extensive. This is reflected throughout the series.

    2nd-Giles went through his “Ripper” phase in college. I’m sure that this helped extend his ties in magics even further. Remember Ethan? I’m sure he alone introduced Giles to many a shady/scary magics practitioner.

    3rd-Giles thanked the Sorcerer for contacting him, which made it clear that he let Giles know that the mayor had contacted him & why.

    I found the whole Angelus angle boring as I was never a fan of “evil Angel.” Not because he was a bad guy, but because I NEVER bought him as a bad guy. To me, the “baddest” thing about him was that he was b-o-r-i-n-g!!!


  50. [Note: Alexei posted this comment on September 15, 2013.]

    Not that its very important, but i feel i need to stress out that effects in the “taking soul spell” are among the best in BtvS. Along with Gvendelin Posts “Tah Rim”! 😀


  51. [Note: guttersnipe posted this comment on March 10, 2014.]

    I feel this episode is only a minor dip in quality in an otherwise stellar season trajectory, and that’s only really because of its mechanical feel; it might as well be called “Exposition” as much as “Enemies” (Buffy’s “we can’t do any of that stuff; you’d lose your soul” is a real in-case-you-missed-most-of-last-season line).

    I’m with Bill and Emily regarding Buffy’s need for a break. I certainly don’t feel that she ever thought Angel would legitimately hook up with Faith, rather her need for distance is the underlying tension from seeing Angel acting in a manner that was so traumatising to her only last year. Consider that before he turned, Buffy was fine with kissing Angel in his vamp face in “What’s My Line part one” – after all she’s been through, I doubt she’s comfortable enough to compartmentalise that now, especially when he acts so vicious. How many of us would be fine with seeing their parter kissing another person, even when we know it’s a ruse? Speaking of trust overcoming discomfort, how many of us would take a punch from their lover, even with her slayer healing?

    I don’t take much umbrage with the sorcerer or his attempts to turn Angel. The mayor’s entourage is essentially mercenary, and I’m sure someone who is used to having everything done for him isn’t too fussed about doing background checks on all his employees. He took Mr. Trick onboard quite readily, didn’t hesitate for a moment in hiring Faith and even felt bad about himself when he thought Allan was going to betray him. It doesn’t seem like much of a stretch to me that Giles would be aware of the sort of avenues he’d pursue, essentially moving the sorcerer into his path like a chess piece. As for Angel, he knows enough by now about the slayer that the path to stopping her is through her nearest and dearest. He’s aware of Spike’s activities last year (“Lovers Walk”), so surely he knew of the mayhem Angel caused and Buffy’s hesitance in killing him. The First tried bending him to its will, why not the Mayor?

    While I’d argue that Buffy walking in on the cheek-kiss is a little contrived (as soap-operaish as BVTS gets), I don’t feel that this sets off Buffy’s alarm regarding Angel’s fidelity or lack thereof; rather it tips her off to be wary of Faith, and she was right to be suspicious.

    A couple of minor pros for me come in the form of how Willow and Xander’s previous experiences inform their approaches to new info in this episode. Willow is hurt by Faith’s liaison with Xander and almost shelving her as Buffy’s best friend. So her line “Faith would totally do that” not only projects her own pain, it’s actually quite intuitive. Xander’s “I told you so” of course extends from his deep-seated mistrust of Angel. He’s wrong here of course, but there’s always going to be a part of him that almost longs for Angel to be genuinely evil again, so he can feel vindicated for his prejudice.


  52. [Note: Boscalyn posted this comment on March 16, 2014.]

    This episode wasn’t set up to have Angel turn evil. The episode was set up to get Angel and Faith together. Not in a sexy way, but as a confidant. Faith and Angel actually have quite a bit in a common, and I think she genuinely wanted a relationship with him.

    In any case, the scene with Faith, Buffy and Angelus together is just electric. I’m okay with the plot being an excuse to get them interacting.

    Also, re: Buffy getting the plan too easily: 1) Faith told Angel that she had killed a demon and that there was a bloody confrontation, and he likely told Buffy, 2) Faith turns on the light in Skyler’s apartment despite it being in a very out of the way location, implying that she’s been there before, and 3) Faith tries to get Buffy out of the apartment before she can get a good luck at the corpse. Something was CLEARLY up there.

    Incidentally: was anyone else reminded of the Firefly episode “Trash” here?


  53. [Note: ericas623 posted this comment on April 11, 2014.]

    I actually think its straightforward why the Mayor attempts to rob Angel of his soul. He realized Buffy and her friends pose a significant threat to the Ascension and, therefore, tries to eliminate them one by one from the equation. As seen in the previous episode, “Dopplegangland,” the Mayor sends his vampire lackeys to kill Willow, but, of course, they end up stumbling upon Vamp Willow and working for her instead. Now, considering Angel represents the biggest obstacle to the Mayor’s plans after Buffy, it only makes sense that Angel would be next. There’s also the added bonus that bringing forth Angelus will likely provide the Mayor with a powerful ally to his cause.


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

    I’ve always had mixed feelings about this episode, but am coming down decisively negative on it after my re-watch today. I always had misgivings about the whole “Angelus is back!” psych-out; I won’t go so far as to say that I “saw through” it the first time I watched this, but I did figure that it would at least prove to be temporary (as it just didn’t fit into the season, for one thing, and would also have been too much of a repeat of the previous season)–and it also seemed way to casually tossed-in. So, I was glad that it turned out not to be real.

    However, for this kind of story to work, there have to be clues or details that, even if you don’t catch them on a first viewing, you can add up in retrospect and realize were tip-offs to what was really going on. Little comments, glances, etc. that you take one way initially, but later realize meant something else. Not only does this episode not have anything like that, but worse–I still can’t find a plausible reconstruction of the events, even after several viewings. There’s a scene in the library just before Buffy goes home and runs into Angel & Faith where she is still acting all worried about Angel being into Faith in a way that can’t reconcile with her being in on a secret plan with Angel to deceive Faith–and at this point, Angel has already been fake-turned!

    Also, as someone else commented, Buffy & co. are way too callous and manipulative toward Faith here. Before this, they were concerned about her and wanted to tread carefully and try to help her back to the light; now they’re suddenly playing games and treating her like an all-out enemy? And all this without it even being clear when, or why, they started suspecting her of being a mayor’s minion? Even if, as MrFrye suggests above, it was actually the shaman guy coming to Giles during this episode that provided the impetus for the whole thing, it’s still way too much important stuff happening offscreen. It just doesn’t work for me.

    (Though, as always–and as Mike and others have already noted–there was still some fun stuff along the way…)


  55. [Note: Lydia posted this comment on June 2, 2014.]

    I think this is a great episode, however, I don’t think it’s what I’d call a solid one by any means. There are dozens of theories going around to figure out when and how they planned the whole deception. Who’s idea was it? How come Xander was left out of the loop (again)? When did Giles talk to the hooded Sorcerer? And so on…

    Still, I’ll give the episode credit for 1) Entertaining me and 2) Being poignant for not only the storyline, but the main characters. This episode basically sets the stage for what goes down in the final episodes. What I liked so much was that when Faith’s got Buffy tied up, all the truth comes pouring out. Despite how enraged Faith was, I think she was being sincere when she said that she tried playing the field with the good guys, but nobody accepted her. After all, how can she give Buffy, the girl who saved the world TWICE (at this point in the series) a run for her money? I agree that the Scoobies had their own, very valid, reasons for being unsettled by Faith and not including her everything but I still think I can understand Faith’s motivations.

    The girl’s unloved, uncared for and has clearly lived a very reckless life. Rules and regulations don’t mean anything to her, considering her background, it makes complete sense. Faith has always had one motto: Survive. She does what she thinks she has to do in order to survive, now whether that’s chilling with Jesus or sluttin’ it up with Satan, she’s gonna do it. I think because of Faith’s subversive nature, she tends to get jealous very easily and judges just as easily. Clearly, she didn’t like what she saw. In Faith’s eyes, Buffy had no right to whine. Buffy’s got friends, a family and a man who loves her. What else does a Slayer need? These are all the things that Faith secretly craved and strived for all her life, but never could quite reach. I think that Faith was genuinely ready to help the Scoobies when she initially came to Sunnydale, but that town has the potential to screw up a Catholic nun cult. Seriously though, after everything she went through, I find it quite believable that Faith decided to flip sides. The Mayor gives her the things that she craves. 1) Respect. 2) Fatherly love and 3) A chance. It’s true… See how easily the Mayor was ready to give Faith a chance? When did the Scooby gang (everyone except for Buffy, who did try to connect to Faith.) ever sit down and listen to her side of the story? Why didn’t Giles tell Faith what he told Buffy? (That mistakes like killing someone accidentally do happen in the Slayer World.)

    Anyway, not to get too side tracked, my point here is that it’s a very important episode for understanding the psychology behind Faith. Although I personally do wish we had a FFL type of Flashback episode to see how Faith became a Slayer and stuff…But oh, well. It was also an important episode for Buffy as she learns or tries to move past her old ordeals, by facing this ‘fake’ Angelus, she’s able to conquer the demons that have ostensibly tormented her eversince she sent him to hell. It proves why the Bangel relationship can never work, and here, at the end, I think Buffy figures that out…Even though she doesn’t want to admit it to herself.

    The plot had lots of holes and some sloppy bits which I’m not used to on this show so I can forgive it. It doesn’t matter much, though, since this episode is sandwiched between two great episodes and honestly, there are very few Season 3 episodes that I find weak at all. I would give it at least a 75/80 score if I were you.


  56. [Note: Jo posted this comment on July 11, 2014.]

    This has always been one of my favourite episodes. Faith is awesome in it and faux Angelus is better than no Angelus 😀 I do have to say though that the line from the Mayor about killing Buffy slowly so as not to get a new slayer nosing around always bugs me. I’m assuming only Faith’s death can call another slayer?


  57. [Note: Joy posted this comment on July 12, 2014.]

    The Mayor didn’t know that only Faith’s death would call another slayer. Was this explained in the series or only through interviews with Joss and company?


  58. [Note: Kyle posted this comment on July 12, 2014.]

    In the episode “Grave” Buffy said that someone should have taken her place but no one did. She didn’t really understand that. It wasn’t her time. She had more that she had to do. At least that’s what I gathered from what she said.


  59. [Note: Courtney posted this comment on April 28, 2015.]

    I just get confused about when the plan went into effect. Just feels like a big hole that didn’t get explained. This whole suspicion of Faith working with the mayor seemed to come out of nowhere.


  60. [Note: Godot posted this comment on July 9, 2015.]

    Not nowhere, really… Buffy was worked up about Faith flirting with Angel already. And when they entered the demons place together she saw Faith turning on the light (Faith knew where the switch was without even looking..)


  61. [Note: Krssven posted this comment on January 27, 2016.]

    This episode is where the frailties of Season Three are really exposed. After spending so long (ten episodes since ‘Band Candy’) without having the scoobies discover the faintest inkling that Mayor Wilkins may be up to no good (pretty big hint dropped by Balthazar in ‘Bad Girls’), ‘Enemies’ is perhaps the only episode up to now where the clear hand of the writer can be seen.

    This episode for some reason attempts several things, and doesn’t get any of them right. First, the Mayor’s plan has to be revealed – remember we are 17 episodes in here and the scoobies are just as oblivious as they were in ‘Band Candy’ as to who the ‘Big Bad’ might be. We’ve had a major Heel Face Turn of an ally, but they don’t even know about that either. The season has five episodes to go, and they don’t even know who the bad guys are, what their plan is, or even that there’s a double agent in their midst. This season’s ‘arc’ is much too subtle and flimsy compared to Season Two’s. Faith is now being set up as a villain way too late in the season to get much more exploration of her character, though we do see that she comes to think of the Mayor as a father figure.

    The Mayor’s plans boil down to ‘perform dedication ritual’ (Scoobies none the wiser), eat spiders from the box of gavroc (which they’d also not have known about if not for some fortuitous spying by Buffy) and finally become a snake (which they can’t stop). I think it’s a crucial weakness of this season that there is no defining villains until this point 17 episodes in. But that’s where the real flaws of this episode come in.

    The main problem with ‘Enemies’ is that it’s a complete fake-out of the audience. Buffy/Ange/Giles essentially say ‘fooled you!’ to Faith, because this episode has to end with the scoobies in full knowledge of her turn. If they don’t, they’re still way behind the audience. But instead of having them actually discover her betrayal, the writers decide they’ve known since at least the start of this episode, since they have set the whole convoluted scheme up. ‘Enemies’ also requires that the Scoobies learn about the Mayor’s plans for Graduation Day. So instead of us seeing them find out this information, the writers again tell us they already know.

    When did they realise Faith was bad? When did they realise the Mayor had big plans to take place soon? When did they connect the two? Was it the Shaman? If so, surely it’s incredibly lame for them to be told what is in fact crucial information to the plot of the season by a character we’ve never seen before, offscreen no less.

    ‘Enemies’ is a great example of writers sprinting to catch protagonists up with the audience. It’s so lazy to let a season drift like this one does, waiting 17 episodes to actually introduce the main plot of the season. While ‘Choices’ and Graduation Day’ are pretty good episodes, they almost dropped the ball on Season Three. With such a subtle villain it was important to tread very carefully, but with whole swathes of the season devoted to standalone stories, they made the rest of the season feel very rushed, especially towards the end. Let’s look at the episode list from this point:

    17)Enemies – simultaneously learning about the Ascension and Faith.
    18)Earshot – quirky standalone that is out of place here. The Zeppo could easily have been binned in favour of Earshot plus another arc episode dealing with the Ascension.
    19)Choices – trying to stop the Ascension before it becomes impossible to do so.
    20)The Prom – a breather and a wrap-up of some of the High School threads as well as the final Buffy/Angel ‘relationship’ moments.
    21)Graduation Day – a strange decision to try and assassinate Angel at this point, clearly to set up Faith’s removal from the picture.
    22)Graduation Day Pt II – the Ascension itself and the end of the season.

    The season rushes through its main arc in the last six episodes of the season, two of which have very little to do with the Mayor or Faith. A critical lack of enough arc material allows the season to get lazy, which by the end forces them to come with writer caveats just to get the heroes up to speed on the plot. Season Three has many great moments and episodes, but this was its crucial flaw and why it is worse than Season Two – not by a lot, but a noticeable amount. This season is carried on the back of the good standalones. The Wish, Revelations, Lover’s Walk, Helpless, Doppelgangland and Earshot are all episodes I could happily watch out of context of the season. They are in a lot of people’s favourite episode lists. But they carry the season for the most part. I also think Graduation Day is overrated both as a finale and as a Buffy episode.


  62. [Note: LouisLittForEmperor posted this comment on January 27, 2016.]

    I’d say that the Mayor not being realized as a villain is a sign of his competence. The guy was apparently doing evil crap for 100 years so it makes sense that he wouldn’t have been caught right away. He was in the place that no one would have expected really.


  63. [Note: Boscalyn posted this comment on January 27, 2016.]

    That’s actually a much more interesting mark against S3 than the usual reasons (arbitrary Angel, less emotional resonance). The mayor is such a memorable villain that I just assumed he was more of a threat than he actually was.


  64. [Note: LouisLittForEmperor posted this comment on January 27, 2016.]

    I’d also say it’s better that they delayed the plot in this way rather than have the plot be delayed because the villain was not that clever (5) or have it started early and have it get weak (7). The rest seem to have the real villain not actually show up until much later.


  65. [Note: Krssven posted this comment on February 4, 2016.]

    Yes, I think that’s a big part of it. When people look back on S3, they remember the affably evil Mayor, his relationship with Faith, her being a villain and a glut of very high quality standalones. But most of the Mayor’s arc happened in the last 7 episodes of the season. After Consequences there are only two episodes concerning the Mayor/Faith to set things up before the finale.


  66. [Note: Krssven posted this comment on February 4, 2016.]

    I do agree that the Mayor makes up for lack of threat with character. I also agree that it fits with the Mayor’s MO for things to be just be going along as usual without anyone having the slightest idea he wants to transform into an Old One.

    It is still a mark against S3 that because of this, the writers ran into a serious problem when it came to the season’s arc. In this season they really started stretching their legs in terms of writing good, memorable episodes that were mostly standalones (the balance is much better in S4 onward). A knock-on effect was that the season was crammed – they had so much to do in the first half with bringing Buffy back, bringing Angel back, introducing Faith, the Willow/Xander ‘affair’ and setting up the Mayor as a potential villain. The first two thirds are absolutely full of standalones, with ‘Gingerbread’ and ‘The Zeppo’ probably being the least important episodes overall. ‘Earshot’ should have been moved to earlier in the season and more room given for the Mayor’s plot in the last third. My main complaint is the need for the writer-fiats in Enemies. The audience knowing more than the protagonists is nothing new (the X-Files did it a fair amount), but like some of the weaker episodes of that series, it pays to not have the audience too far ahead of them. We as viewers know something is up with the Mayor as early as the end of ‘Homecoming’, but Buffy et al haven’t the slightest idea as late as ‘Bad Girls’, one episode before Faith’s turn, which they also don’t know about at the time.

    When the issue arose in S3, the writers had to create an episode that specifically addressed the issue, by having them already know and be completely up to speed, via offscreen fiats.


  67. [Note: J.C. posted this comment on February 4, 2016.]

    Just so you know, Louis has been banned from the forum, and this site, for the next year. So he won’t be responding to any of your posts in the near future.

    Cheers. 🙂


  68. [Note: Pathbeyondthedark posted this comment on February 5, 2016.]

    It’s funny cause, you were two comments away from pulling a “full Louis” yet also did more than a “half” one. But here I am fulfilling my charity quota by making sure that does not happen.

    @Krssven: I highly disagree. I think in terms of stand alones, S3 is the most consistent in quality returns compared to the rest. There isn’t one terrible episode among them and while there may be no true “classic” or fan favorite it’s more indicative of good writing that it is able to withstand a 22 episode run while lacking mediocrity. It’s far more difficult to do than one or two excellent entries per.


  69. [Note: J.C. posted this comment on February 5, 2016.]

    It’s unlikely I’ll be posting in the Books section any time soon, being the illiterate bastard that I am. 😉


  70. [Note: Bella posted this comment on March 13, 2016.]

    I just came here to ask someone: When does Buffy et al. realise that Faith has actually turned, in order to set up this Angel farce? I’m rewatching the series now, and I know that they were all worried and unsure of Faith after she killed the deputy mayor, but there’s no indiciation that I can remember of them actually suspecting her of anything. At least not until it’s revealed at the end of this episode. Did I miss hints? Or is that it?


  71. [Note: Bella posted this comment on March 13, 2016.]

    Uhhh… I’m new here and don’t know if anything I wrote will get me banned. (Just saw that louis got banned, don’t know why.) Anyways..

    @Krssven, and Pathbeyondthedark, I think the reason that S3 is still a good season (though I do agree with you Krssven that the actual Mayor arc is rushed), is because of the character development. It’s the perfect point in the series for it to wind down slightly on the Big Bads, and let the minor/side characters develop. Specifically Willow and Xander. You looked down on The Zeppo, but I think that’s a really important episode for Xander and for the audience realising where he stands. It’s the first instance that leads up to him being the heart of the group, and the one who sees.

    And Willow’s development in Doppelgangland is the first time (besides her standing up to/making the first move with Oz) you see her stop taking shit and standing up for herself. Her clear enjoyment and empowerment of pretending to be Vamp Willow is an important development for her. Plus of course the “And I think I’m kinda gay”.

    I just think that, although I agree with a lot f why you said S3 is weak, it is actually a strong and necessary season in terms of characer development for the costars.


  72. [Note: Other Scott posted this comment on March 13, 2016.]

    Louis has as far as I’m aware been the first and only ban on this site, it was only for a year, and there was a lot of special circumstances involved.

    So no, nothing you say will get you banned.

    I kind of disagree with the criticisms of season 3 as a whole, I think only having mayor plotlines at the end would have been a bad balance. Standalones in a 22 episode season are valuable to keep a little bit of tonal variety throughout the season. Earshot is perfect where it is in the season.


  73. [Note: Freudian Vampire posted this comment on March 13, 2016.]

    I know of one other ban but that was before either of us posted here and the person in question’s main contribution to the site was questioning whether rape was morally right.


  74. [Note: Krssven posted this comment on March 15, 2016.]

    That actually shows exactly why S3 is overrated. There are as many stellar episodes in Seasons 2, 4, 5 and even 6/7 as there are in S3. When you look at how many good episodes each season produced, just having good standalone episodes is never going to be enough. Where S3 falls down is in its lazy main arc, which doesn’t do anything until Faith turns bad. I also think the episode ‘Choices’ is the only episode I can remember in the whole run where I watched it and thought ‘wow – I’ve never really been able to see the hands of the writers before, but that whole episode is just cynical in how transparent the writers were’. The important stuff happens offscreen, and in the end the whole episode was simply an exercise in getting the protagonists to the same information level as the viewer!


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