Buffy 3×19: Choices

[Review by Mike Marinaro]

[Writer: David Fury | Director: James A. Contner | Aired: 05/04/1999]

I really, really enjoyed this episode. No, there weren’t any powerful scenes. No, nothing big really happened. But you know what? There wasn’t a moment of the entire thing that left me uninterested. The action was exciting, the drama was interesting, and the penultimate scene with Buffy and Willow warmed my heart. So even though I have no complaints with this one I can only rate it so high because ultimately it’s just an arc episode which moves things along and gives characters more interesting things to do and say.

Early on Buffy is talking with Angel about their future together. Both of them at this point, deep down, know this relationship is never going to work. They are both trying their best to hide from that reality though. Buffy is the first to question it when she asks him, while fighting in the cemetary together, “So this is our future? This is how we’re going to spend our nights when I’m fifty and you’re … the same age you are now.” It’s the Mayor, however, who is the one to finally finish off their relationship.

As fundamentally evil as the Mayor is, it doesn’t mean everything he says is wrong. He actually says a lot of truthful things. His speech affects Angel a lot even though Angel hides it from Buffy at the end, and she completely ignores it. He says, “You’re immortal, she’s not. It’s not. I married my Edna May in ought-three and I was with her right until the end. Not a pretty picture. Wrinkled and senile and cursing me for my youth. Wasn’t our happiest time. And let’s not forget the fact that any moment of true happiness will turn you evil. I mean, come on. What kind of a life can you offer her? I don’t see a lot of Sunday picnics in the offing. I see skulking in the shadows, hiding from the sun. She’s a blossoming young girl and you want to keep her from the life she should have until it has passed her by. My God! I think that’s a little selfish. Is that what you came back from Hell for? Is that your greater purpose?” This is the best summary of the problems Buffy and Angel are faced with that I could ever think of.

The middle of the episode has a ton going for it. We get the wonderfully fun break-in scene where Buffy is lifted down into the Mayor’s conference room to snag the box. That doesn’t work out so well so we get an awesome little fight scene. Then we find out Willow’s been captured so discussions begin on trading the box for Willow. I love that the thing that convinces everyone to make the trade is Oz actually getting angry and pushing something over. All they needed to see was that amazing–coming from Oz–show of emotion. Wonderful characterization.

After all that we get treated to Willow staking a vamp using the floating pencil spell she was using back in “Doppelgangland” [3×16] . Then we even get to see her stand up to Faith with words like “I know that some people think you had a lot of bad breaks. Well, boo hoo! Poor you. You know, you had a lot more in your life than some people. I mean, you had friends in your life like Buffy. Now you have no one. You were a Slayer and now you’re nothing. You’re just a big selfish, worthless waste … I’m not afraid of you.” Everyone, a cheer for Willow.

If all of that wasn’t enough we also get a very suspenseful trade scene at the high school. The creatures in the box are very creepy and it is fun watching the good guys, the bad guys, and the guys in the middle (Snyder and the police) all working together to kill off the two that get out. This is also the scene where the Mayor imparts his unique wisdom on Angel and even manages to get in a few hilarious lines. This episode really does entertain!

Some nice smaller touches include Xander failing to resist the opportunity to see Cordelia shopping and throwing verbal jabs at her, Cordelia beginning a new part of life now that she has no money, Buffy realizing after the previous night she’s going to have to protect the hellmouth her whole life, and Willow deciding she’s going to attend UC Sunnydale not because of Buffy but because she likes they way she felt when helping out in the fight against evil. Plus, she hopes to be a bad-ass wicca (S6, wink). Overall this is just a whole lot of entertainment. Once again, nothing huge or powerful happens here, it’s just an arc episode that really delivers the stuff, and is wrapped up in a beautiful, balanced package.

 


Minor Pros/Cons (+/-)

+ The Mayor giving Faith a stylish knife wrapped up as a gift.
+ Joyce’s reaction to Buffy getting accepted to Northwestern University.
+ The post high school chat between the Scooby Gang. Adorable.
+ Faith still using the longbow she was admiring in “Bad Girls” [3×14] .
+ Buffy’s hilarious plan to gain information. She breaks the window of a limo and in a peppy tone asks the vamp, “So, what’s in the box?”
+ Snyder barging in during the trade scene thinking everyone’s doing drugs.
+ Willow wisely having pulled out pages of the Books of Ascension.
+ Buffy and Angel having a picnic at night by a tombstone. Very amusing.


[Score]

90/100

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44 thoughts on “Buffy 3×19: Choices”

  1. [Note: Dingdong posted this comment on May 17, 2006.]

    I’ve recently seen choices, and I must say that I have to disagree with your review score, although I don’t think most of the points are invalid.

    What bugs me about the episode is how forced the storyline feels. IN any other episode, Buffy and co would have at least tried a few tricks, despite the fact that one of theirs was captured. Its not as if the situations particularly original, and I’m surprised they didn’t at least attempt something underhand, even if nothing that would endanger Willow.

    Another thing that annoys me is the way, like in “Enemies”, everyone ignores Wesley. However annoying he may be to the scoobies, he isn’t completely incompetent, and there’s no reason for their – including Giles’ – behaviour towards him at the beginning of the episode. It does redeem itself in the scene where he argues for the greater good, but the episode seems to take the piss out of him too much. It’s a pity, as Desinof is one of the best actors in the episode.

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  2. [Note: Ryan-R.B. posted this comment on May 17, 2006.]

    Consider Wes’ character past S3 of Buffy, though. He has his talents, but around intimidating compatriots seems to generally lack confidence. There’s plenty of evidence for this in S1 of Angel, as he’s seen as a skilled fighter, rather courageous and resourceful, but tends to bumble around Angel and Cordy because he does feel lesser in their presence. And having to prove yourself all the time is jitter-inducing.

    Also, if Wesley wasn’t portrayed as an incompetent failure, if still an entertaining one, in S3 of Buffy, his motivations and emotions wouldn’t have been nearly as meaningful in S1 of Angel, nor his gradual ascension to confidence and power as amazing.

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  3. [Note: Grounded posted this comment on May 17, 2006.]

    You have a point about Enemies, but not about Choices. Wesley royally mucked things up in Enemies – why should they listen to him?

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  4. [Note: MikeJer posted this comment on May 17, 2006.]

    I look at “Choices” as an episode which is more ‘fun’ than drama. It’s just really entertaining while also containing some very memorable moments. For me it is very much a 90 even though I’m sure the episode doesn’t have a huge following. It’s hard to pinpoint why I like it so much beyond what I have in the review — I just kind love the ep.

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  5. [Note: bookworm posted this comment on May 18, 2006.]

    about Wesley: anyone remember Bad Girls, when he started yammering about his kneecaps when him and Giles were held captive by this demon: Wesley wasn’t only cut off from the already very organic Scoobie-Gang, but he was also a spineless, uninformed, half-assed decal of Watcher Council’s Dearest.

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  6. [Note: fryrish posted this comment on May 18, 2006.]

    This is a fantastic episode imo. The Willow and Oz stuff is great and makes me wish Seth Green had stayed on the show longer. When Angel is arguing with the Mayor and Oz says “Angel” and how he steps in front of Willow when the trade is made. The whole confrontation at the school is good.

    Now, I’m not saying Wesley deserved the benefit of the doubt after the way he handled Faith in Enemies, but his hesitance to trade with the Mayor didn’t necessarily mean leaving Willow to die.. I think Buffy’s “Are you made of human parts?” was a tad harsh. Oz’s reaction to it all was priceless.

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  7. [Note: Dingdong posted this comment on May 18, 2006.]

    In what way in “Enemies” does Wesley muck things up? If I remember right, he’s kept completely out of the plan, so he doesn’t have a chance to. Or are you thinking of “Concequences, where he unleashes the CoW dicipline on Faith, after learning of the killing?

    IMO, Wesley had a point in “Choices, and the episode would have stood better if they had had some of the characters in sympathy with him.

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  8. [Note: Dingdong posted this comment on May 18, 2006.]

    Good point, but I think that his character arc in “Buffy” should have been handled better. I don’t have a problem with the fact that Buffy and co. tend to intimidate him, just that the story seems to paint him as a complete idiot, whereas he’s clearly not (although he isn’t exactly supposed to be competant).

    I should say, that so far into Angel – I’m on episode 3-04 at the moment, Wesley’s character has been one of the best developed ones in either season, and probably the most consistantly good. I love the way he’s changed from a slightly pathetic and grovelling “Rogue Demon Hunter” to a calm and intelligent leader.

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  9. [Note: Ryan-R.B. posted this comment on May 18, 2006.]

    You haven’t seen AtS all the way through yet? Well, if you like Wes’ character you’re going to appreciate S3. They do some amazing and shocking things that change him forever. Wesley is easily my favorite part of that particular season.

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  10. [Note: Dingdong posted this comment on May 19, 2006.]

    If the use of his character only gets better, then I’ll be very pleased. Wesley is a great combination at the moment – a great actor playing a wonderful character.

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  11. [Note: jun posted this comment on May 13, 2007.]

    Re: this bit: “I love that the thing that convinces everyone to make the trade is Oz actually getting angry and pushing something over.”

    In watching it today, I noticed that the scene goes something like:

    Wes: We have the means to destroy this box…
    Oz: *gets up and knocks over said means*

    Now the only plan left is the trade.

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  12. [Note: buffyholic posted this comment on July 29, 2007.]

    This is an awesome episode. Totally deserves the score. It has action and comedy. For me, my favorite scenes are the library scene, it`s just awesome. Go Oz. The trade scene where the Mayor gives out his speech and the scene Buffy/Willow is just so sweet. Buffy doesn`t want to admit it but she too believes in what the Mayor says.

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  13. [Note: wakingsleep posted this comment on December 24, 2007.]

    In response to jun, i’m not sure whether you’re implying that the trade was the only choice left after Oz pushed over the basin or not, but that’s the impression i’m getting from your post. I, personally, don’t think thats what the point of it was.
    To quote Giles: “Giles: I think the Breath of the Atropyx is standard for this sort of thing. Fairly simple recipe…”
    So it was stated that what Oz destroyed could be easily attained again. I believe it was really more of the emotions he displayed(which, in itself spoke louder than if anyone else had done the same) that convinced the other Scoobies making the trade was the right thing to do. Thats how I thought it was meant to mean, would love to hear reasoning behind anyother view points.

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  14. [Note: Nix posted this comment on January 24, 2008.]

    As an aside, wakingsleep, most of the transcripts available online say `Atropyx’, but with my mystic native-South-East-English RP mojo I can clearly hear Giles saying `Entropics’, which is a pretty good name for a dissolving/destroying ritual (I guess it channels entropy into the target until it disintegrates of sheer decrepitude).

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  15. [Note: CWGN posted this comment on September 23, 2008.]

    The way the ‘choice’ was handled was weak in my opinion. For one, Wesley’s points are entirely correct, if destroying the box would stop the ascension then Willow’s sacrifice was worth it, however, there’s no real debate: Oz destroys the ingredients for the spell.

    More importantly, I always wondered why they didn’t investigate the content’s of the box, destroy it and then find a substitute to trick the mayor with.

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  16. [Note: bigmoneygrip posted this comment on October 26, 2008.]

    Willow looks as cute as she’s ever looked in that long dress.

    Xander: “Where did it go?”
    “I still want to know where it went.”
    I’d be freaking out if this happened to me.

    That was a GREAT scene in the school. Having Snyder come in on his “drug quest” was wonderful.

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  17. [Note: Maddybee posted this comment on February 28, 2009.]

    Another enlightening episode….
    First of all though I would like to say how harsh the Scooby Gang are being on Wesley, at first I agreed with them for being cautious around him but now I reckon there being a little too mean.
    The whole Xander and Cordelia thing is getting a bit too old aswell, its gone on for quite a while and it shows no intentions of stopping, I know this is due to Xanders love or lust to Cordy but he’s being a little tiresome, same with Cordelia the snide remarks are getting boring and predictable I wish they would either ignore eachother or just make up.
    I loved the Mayors first encounter with Buffy and how the whole trading the box for Will changes into a lecture for Angel.
    I have to admit the spidery crab thing was freaky and has heightened my arachnaphobia further-eek!
    Wesley’s “NO!” when Faith threw her knife at the wall was rather amusing.
    A number of quotes made my day in this ep including…
    “Why couldn’t you be dealing drugs like normal people?!” A hilarious remark for Snyder,
    “What I did read was kind of involved, way overwritten if you ask me.” I love Willow’s attitude when she says this its a total refreshing change!
    And then the way Giles face lights up like a kid on christmas say when he given the several ripped out pages.
    In Addition, Wesley’s negativity to everything (discoveries etc.)balances out the Scooby Gangs enthusiasm and confidence- possibly one of the reasons for them leaving him out.
    A very good episode with an interesting plot.
    😀

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  18. [Note: Stilicho posted this comment on April 29, 2009.]

    I liked especially the moment of pure hapiness between Buffy and Willow when Willow tells Buffy that she’s gonna stay in Sunnydale for study. This is a) a rare occasion on which we see Buffy to burst with joy (and it really feels good to see that), and b) it shows, IMO, that beyond the talking of wanting to be part of the “good fight”, beyond the fact that their relationship is more complicated than it was the years before, beyond the fact their having secrets and some difficulties sharing their problems and worries with each other effortless, THEY STILL ARE BEST FRIENDS, and they need each other, and are happy that they will be both together facing the future. After the distance that seemed to grow between them during the progress of the season, I was really glad to see this.

    As usual, many thanks for the great review!

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

    I think the fact that Oz showed strong emotion shocked everyone, including me. After all, the character was known for his (as Buffy calls it in the next season)’trademark stoicism’ so any sudden and powerful showing of emotion from him is bound to get everyone’s attention.

    One of the things that ticks me off about this episode is not only is Wesley overly willing to throw Willow to the wolves, but he can’t even give her the tiniest bit of credit even after she brings them the pages from the Books Of Ascension! WTF does she have to do? She’s not a Slayer; she’s an extremely novice practitioner of magick, but she managed to do what none of them did and he pretty much ignores it. Stupid bloody uptight git!

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

    I love, love, love this episode. I can’t find anything wrong with it (except maybe the weird Snyder drug paranoia, which was funny but totally just thrown in there to pay off during the confrontation in the library) – it excellently amps up the arc for the season ender, and has some great character moments (Oz reacting to the discussion about saving Willow, Willow’s comments to Faith – “it’s way too late”). This is my 3rd favorite ep of Season 3, after “Graduation Day, Part 2” and “Doppelgangland”.

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  21. [Note: Elbie posted this comment on June 13, 2010.]

    Foreshadow: Faith hesitantly leaves her fancy knife behind in the cafeteria which is what Buffy ends up stabbing her with.

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  22. [Note: Nix posted this comment on June 27, 2010.]

    There’s a nice delicate clue in the first scene in the dress shop that all is not well with Cordelia. She gives back verbal jabs one-for-one, and she’s normally known for never ever letting anyone else get the last word — but what’s her response to Xander’s “I’m guessing they must have seen a different side of your father’s money”? Merely a soft-spoken ‘Go away’.

    That jab *hurt*, though Xander didn’t expect it to.

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  23. [Note: nathan.taurus posted this comment on August 26, 2010.]

    The Good:

    Buffy’s blue dress. She is really radiant in it in the great library scene with Giles and Wes.

    Wesley: “Let’s synchronise our watches…typical.”

    Seeing Mayor Wilkins get angry. “-They’ve got my box.”

    Faith and Willow together again. Willow standing up and telling Faith the truth.

    The Mayor’s speech to Buffy and Angel and his disappointment at Angel. “Make the trade.”

    Giles’ smile when Willow gives him the pages she got.

    Buffy tackles Willow on the grass.

    Angel and Buffy try to tell themselves that the Mayor was wrong and they will last.

    Trivia: Buffy says to take the fight to the Mayor. In season 7 she decides to take this action again.

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  24. [Note: Louisa posted this comment on June 1, 2011.]

    I saw this episode today, and just noticed for the first time when Oz broke the thing in the library he wrecked the spell that they were going to destroy the Box of Gavrok with, the thing that Willow had instructed Oz and Xander to assemble. Okay, not a huge point, but it was more than just a show of temper. Without that, the choice of trading it for Willow was the only one left. Good episode.

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  25. [Note: Amanda posted this comment on June 26, 2011.]

    Willow killing the vampire with a pencil in this episode is hilarious.You would think it would take a bit more than a pencil to kill a demon.

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  26. [Note: nathan.taurus posted this comment on October 24, 2011.]

    Still think Sarah Michelle in the blue dress is really pretty.

    -If Willow had of escaped after staking the vampire then the Scoobies could have destroyed the Box of Gavrok which means the Mayor could not have had that pre-ascension dinner for his organs to shift. Instead she stays and gets very little information at all (Anya has more insight soon) which causes the Box to be returned to the Mayor and a policeman killed by one of the spiders. Plot-wise she needed to stay, logic-wise she needed to escape.

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  27. [Note: Gemma posted this comment on January 24, 2012.]

    One word; Suspense! This episode does as you wrote Mike moves the episode along but it does in a fun and attention keeping way. Its an episode that i can’t not watch if its on TV or skip, (I never skip but just to make the point)

    The opening, when the gang are discussing the direction they want there lives to take is great, especially Buffy’s want to leave it brings home the point that she has a calling, a destiny that has her life mapped out. As she said she knows its complicated. This is the Buffy i love, the one who wants and desires. In every season no matter her changes there has always been something she has wanted or longed for.

    It has some great moments, Giles and Wesley sharing tea when Buffy and the others get on with the task at hand, Oz showing his love for Willow, Willow herself! Amazing growth followthrough here! Her strength and courage is really setting her up for her character arch.

    The drawing we don’t get to see but hear described is a good for the soul, Xander and Cordy sharing insults always fun to watch!

    The final scenes are full of drama and some that ought not to be missed! Faith looking longingly at the knife in the cafeteria wall was a subtle way of relating to her, she has never had anything of her own before and now she has lost the gift her ‘father’ gave her. Also foreshadowing of graduation day part 1! SHe gets it back!

    Oh and a flashback! Mr Pointy! Kendra and season 2! Also i loved the guys forming a plan all the while ignoring Wesley!

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  28. [Note: RaeScott posted this comment on March 11, 2012.]

    Anyone notice that the outfit Willow is wearing when being held hostage is very similar to the one she is wearing in “Tough Love” when she tries to take on Glory? Just thought it was interesting because this is one of the first episodes that Willow uses magic in the field, and she would wear an almost identical dress again when going all “paybacky” on Glory.

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  29. [Note: Floydpinkster posted this comment on June 22, 2012.]

    Dear mikejer… I must Protest… Yes it’s 2012 and i am rewatching buffy for the first time since it ended on T.V. I Found this sight and decided to read the retrospective reviews and the foreafter comments (i love all the insightfull comments, it really is a study of the show by passionate fans)after every episode and thought it was all quite educational. I have agreed with your views and Disageed, Found new meaning in stuff and hidden jems thanks to you and your site. However tonight i am very annoyed. I have cringed at some of the reviews you have given to “excellent” stand-alone episodes (not getting the almighty “P” because you said that although they were wonderfull…fantastic… marvolious… they did nothing to further the arc of the season and or had little or no Charecter growth. Then this episode comes along and i read this from your review… (“I really, really enjoyed this episode. There wasn’t a moment of the entire thing that left me uninterested. The action was exciting, the drama was interesting, and the penultimate scene with Buffy and Willow warmed my heart. So even though I have no complaints I can only rate it so high because ultimately it’s just an arc episode)Factor in Willows growth, Ozz’s growth… Buffy and angel’s (coming to grips with there relationship) growth and i must again protest my good man. I’m not saying it deserved the “P” or not but it sounded like it had everything you claim to look for in an episode but somehow failed. for shame.

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  30. [Note: MikeJer posted this comment on June 22, 2012.]

    First of all, thanks for the comment, Floydpinkster!

    Secondly, you have every right to be a little perplexed by my motives behind the score on this one. You make an excellent point, and it — like several of my earlier reviews — is something that bugs me quite a bit too.

    This is why I will eventually be updating my reviews and scores soon in an effort to make all of them more consistent with the quality of the later ones. I’ve already touched up Season 1 (the original reviews I wrote back in 2005 were, well, incredibly amateurish), and will be starting Season 2 hopefully sometime in the not too distant future. So stay tuned to the news or subscribe to the news RSS feed (top-right corner of the site) to be sure not to miss out on when these updated reviews start popping up.

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  31. [Note: Gemma posted this comment on August 4, 2012.]

    Has anyone else noticed the subtle fact that Faith alters her own path? Seals her fate so to speak when she leaves her knife behind, not only hers but ultimately the Mayor’s end too?

    If she had opted to fetch it, maybe the events that occur wouldn’t have happened?

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  32. [Note: Summer posted this comment on December 23, 2012.]

    I always feel sorry for Faith when she leaves her knife in the wall. Poor Faith, that was her only present. But it’s awesome with Willow takes her to task, saying that having a hard life is no excuse for her choices. It’s interesting when Xander is reading the book. Has he ever voluntarily read anything? He could have gone to community college if he wanted to. I didn’t really buy Buffy getting into Northwestern. No doubt she’s a smart girl with great SAT scores but if you look at her probably middling grades, her questionable attendance record, discipline problems, lack of extracurriculars… a nice out of state school is kinda reaching. My favorite part is when Willow makes her decision to stay in Sunnydale. I like how she owns it and looks forward to it rather than other characters in similar situations in these types of shows… a lot of the times bad circumstances keep them in the same town. So this change is refreshing.I agree with Maddybee that the Xander/Cordelia thing is getting old. In the beginning when Cordelia was being mean to the scoobies it came from a different place, there was more innocence of the things they were going through. But now she really knows the group and her jabs to everyone are especially nastier… and also tiresome. But I know she’s being extra mean to cover up her hurt… no doubt she misses being part of the group. Plus, she’s having her own problems. But it still hurts me!

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  33. [Note: Gemma posted this comment on January 17, 2013.]

    I love the moments of Faith we see in this episode, right from the get go we see so much character depth and realisation. The gift from the mayor meant a great deal to her, having to leave it behind clearly hurt her, how many gifts has she been given? The blow from Willow demonstrated that Faith craves love and to be wanted something she is so desperate for she is looking for it and responding to the Mayor. I love their relationship. Its similar to Buffy and Giles only in a darker quality

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

    I think her reaction to Buffy’s admittance to Northwestern demonstrates just how oblivious Joyce is to Buffy and responsibilities as the Slayer. Joyce is far from a “bad mother” and genuinely cares about her daughter, but, at the same time, she’s never really tried to support integrate herself into Buffy’s life, apart from disastrous results in “Gingerbread.” Many times, Joyce voices reasonable concerns about Buffy’s safety and well-being, but she has also taken Joyce has taken on a backseat role and has submitted to ignorance when it comes to Buffy. This isn’t necessarily Joyce’s fault, considering how often Buffy has excluded her, but Joyce is partly to blame for accepting such a passive role.

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

    I never really think of this episode as being among the greats of the third season, but I should–because it’s excellent!

    I disagree with the criticisms that some commenters have leveled against Buffy and co. for ignoring and/or being too down on Wesley. For one thing, it doesn’t really matter if he had a valid point in this episode or not; he’s already blown his shot at gaining the respect or trust of the group in previous episodes by being clueless, pompous, and callous. Thus, I totally buy that no one would listen to him. Secondly, it’s less than clear just how much of a point he did or didn’t have; after all, since none of them knows what the mayor’s ascension even is yet, they also don’t really know what the stakes are as far as keeping the box from him. Wes just assumes that the consequences will be dire enough to warrant sacrificing Willow’s life to prevent them. Who could be blamed for feeling that this showed a callous disregard for Willow on his part?

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  36. [Note: Lydia posted this comment on June 6, 2014.]

    I think this was a wonderful episode. It was exceptionally balanced, solid and extremely consistent. There are few episodes that don’t have any extremely powerful/important/sentimental material but still work so well. “Choices” is a stellar example full of great, fun dialogue, witty comebacks, awesome character interaction, development and foreshadowing. Plus, Buffy being badass (this is always a good thing!).

    I also think that its viable of the gang to disregard Wesley. I agree that they never gave him a chance, but after what he did to them a few episodes back, you can’t really blame them for giving him the cold shoulder. All Wesley’s ever been here is condescending, uptight and one-dimensional. I know that the guy’s diligent but you’d think he’d look at the gang more closely, I mean he isn’t stupid. Wesley should know by now that the Scoobies and Buffy work differently compared to regular Slayers. He should be aware that Buffy’s unique and is only going to play by her own rules. Plus, after all that the stupid Watcher’s Council has put Buffy through, you can’t blame her or the rest of the lot for behaving this way with Wesley.

    I agree that the Xander and Cordelia’s insult swapping is getting old, but I can hardly complain. I always find their constant banter amusing and a lot of their lines are hilarious and witty-Always have been. Also considering Cordelia will never return to Sunnydale after this season, I find myself cherishing these Xander-Cordy moments. I’ve always been a sucker for the cliche relationships where one day the protagonists are hating on each other in a spiteful quarrel, and banging on the kitchen floor on the next. Also, love Cordy in this episode.
    Its sad that she got accepted into all these colleges, and we know that she wants to go…But for those of us who’ve seen Angel, we’re also aware that she doesn’t end up going to college at all. *sigh*

    I love that Buffy’s still craving for that normal life, despite having accepted that she’s doomed to be a slayer and that her relationship with Angel’s going to go nowhere. She’s stuck in this labyrinth, or rut, as she calls it, and its endless. But still, we see the fiery passion in her. She wants to attend college. She still wants to be normal, Person!Buffy, along with Slayer Buffy. And I think this is what truly separates her from the herd. She truly is the most special Slayer to ever be.

    All in all, a unique, fun-filled episode which didn’t cease to entertain me.
    Also, Snyder’s ironic comment, “Why couldn’t you just be dealing drugs like normal people!?” Ah, I’m gonna miss that crazy short man with the Napoleon complex after this season.

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  37. [Note: OhPointyBird posted this comment on May 20, 2015.]

    No powerful scenes?? The Mayor’s advice to Angel and Buffy is up there with Spike’s “love’s bitch” in terms of significance within the Buffyverse. Spike and the Mayor both see the truth, and speak it. Spike see the love, the Mayor see that that love is doomed and tragic. It’s the problem of immortality that we also see in the Highlander, or even in Twilight. Immortals and mortals live in different time scales, like me falling in love with a mayfly… At least we had a few beautiful hours together.

    LBB

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  38. [Note: Ellie posted this comment on August 5, 2015.]

    I must say that I think this episode is incredibly overrated. It’s especially disappointing being straight after Earshot which is among the best that Season 3 has to offer. There just doesn’t seem to be any lasting impact or much in the way of character development that I can ever see.
    The whole trade of the box for Willow just pisses me off! The Scoobies are all uncharacteristically harsh towards Wesley in this ep, I mean I get that he’s really annoying and that he has made really bad mistakes in his way of dealing with things (particularly with how he dealt with Faith in Consequences, a major factor in her move to the dark side) but in the library scene he actually has a valid point. He turns out to be proved right of course i.e the loss of life in Graduation Day Part 2.

    It just seems so implausible that the gang would just give up on their mission to prevent the Mayors ascension when they risked so much for it in this episode, and without even trying another way to get Willow back first, which of course could’ve been done by just Buffy and Angel as Willow didn’t seem to be very securely kept prisoner- come on she had a perfect opportunity to escape pretty early on and didn’t take it!

    To me the events of this episode kind of ruin the impact of Graduation Day Part 2 somewhat, as good an episode though that is, when it could’ve been so easily prevented here!

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  39. [Note: Artemis posted this comment on September 17, 2015.]

    I also have to disagree, the idea of the episode is nice but Willow’s behaviour is just plain stupid. She had the perfect oppertunity to escape and she wastes is by reading the books. She should have grabbed two or three of the books and escaped as fast as she could instead of looking through all of them or escaped in the first place without snooping around, getting to safety and destroying the box was obviously a priority to gathering intel. Faith even says as much.

    I also found the reaction towards Wesley to harsh. They could have tried to save Willow (where they would probably have succeeded…) or at least investigate the box first. They could be reasonably sure that Willow wouldn’t be harmed since they have the box and the mayor isn’t a stupid overly violent villain.

    Also, couldn’t Angel have pulled Buffy up directly after it jammed? What’s with his vampire strenght and Buffy doesn’t look that heavy…

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  40. [Note: Krssven posted this comment on September 18, 2015.]

    Most of these issues just need a little thought around them to consider what is going on in the characters’ heads.

    – The Mayor’s POV is that he has Willow but they have the box. Since he knows they will likely already know how to destroy it or at least get rid of it, he can’t kill Willow or even hurt her, because she’s the bargaining chip.

    – Conversely, the scoobies know the only reason the Mayor won’t kill Willow is because they have the box. They have to play nice because they know Faith will probably be itching to kill her for the Mayor if something goes wrong.

    – Willow as a person is very curious. The Books of Ascension are the only de facto information source on what happens and is involved when someone Ascends. So instead of escaping immediately she takes the chance to find out some info. The scoobies have no idea what workarounds the Mayor might come up with, given his demonic contacts/background. Unfortunately she takes too long and is caught.

    – Wesley is right, they shouldn’t give the box back. From a purely ‘greatest good’ perspective. However he should know that most people wouldn’t let their friends die like that. In Buffy’s morality, there is no choice and they should make the trade.

    – It’s very easy to just say ‘Buffy and Angel should’ve just kicked the door in and rescued Willow’. That’s pretty much Buffy’s approach to all situations. However the others, especially Angel, would know that such an approach is unacceptably risky. How many vampires does the Mayor have? Where is Faith? Are there any traps he might have set, anticipating a heroic rescue? They don’t know any of those answers. They don’t know if the Mayor is planning his own snatch of the box once the scoobies aren’t all together, or if he’s ordered Faith to immediately kill Willow if a rescue is attempted.

    Both sides know that the other won’t harm their own ‘hostage’ for fear of the other side immediately killing/destroying what the other side wants.

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  41. [Note: Krssven posted this comment on September 18, 2015.]

    Buffy doing amazingly well somehow on her SATs (which I guess must be the equivalent of UK A-Levels – I sat these in 2000) is always something that bothered me slightly. Yeah, have Buff do well, but so well that she even makes Willow jealous? Willow is so intelligent she’s already been teaching high school computer classes aged 17, was TUTORING Buffy in Chemistry (as late as Becoming, when they were taking finals) and French, and most likely still helping Xander out too. She’s also already been headhunted by a software company (in ‘What’s My Line?’). Buffy getting scores that even GILES says are ‘remarkable’ and that could take her to potentially any college just doesn’t feel realistic. She’s great at slaying, but how did she pull all this together?

    Yes, it creates great scope for Season Four and her new relationships, as well as living with Willow (yay). Consider though, when have we seen Buffy show this promise? Willow was pointing out her non-attendance of classes in mid-S2, but somehow even with Angelus roaming around, she managed what seem to be the equivalent of straight As? Buffy needed Willow’s help (not the teacher’s, by the look of it) to understand what a covalent bond was, not a particularly advanced concept (I was learning this type of thing two school years earlier).

    I also partly don’t understand how the kids took ‘finals’ at the end of their school year in Season Two, but didn’t get the results until this episode. Why such a long wait? How did Oz fail to graduate the previous year? Was this dependent on his ‘final’ results or something in his senior year? What are the kids actually doing in their senior year, if their results from the previous year affect their University choices? As a UK native this doesn’t make sense to me. At around the same era, kids in the UK took GCSEs at age 16. The results of these affected which courses you could take on to Advanced Level for another two years until age 18 (there were other types of course, some not school-based, but this is what I did). Your A-Level final grades were then what affected which universities would take you and on what courses. But in the UK, you don’t get these results until you’ve officially left school (equivalent of ‘graduating’ in the US – leaving school is not made a big deal over here).

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