Buffy 5×11: Triangle

[Review by Mike Marinaro]

[Writer: Jane Espenson | Director: Christopher Hibler | Aired: 01/09/2001]

There’s some fun to be had here! “Triangle” is an episode that focuses its attention on one of the most enjoyably subtle character threads in the entire series. I’m, of course, talking about Willow and Anya’s personality issues. They’ve been lightly butting heads occasionally for over a year now, and even more so recently. Their issues get completely addressed here and when “Triangle” focuses on this, it masterfully succeeds in both character development and entertainment. However, there are some other aspects of this episode that don’t rub off nearly as well. These being Olaf the troll and Buffy’s reaction to Riley’s absence.

I want to begin by mentioning Buffy’s absence of hardcore emotion over losing Riley, even joking to Giles about it. There doesn’t seem to be much sadness here, which seems to confirm what Riley thought of their relationship. Buffy’s initial goofy breakdown in front of Tara, “It’s a miraculous love!,” is pretty funny, but by episode’s end outstays its welcome and becomes pretty out of character for Buffy. At least Buffy’s relative indifference led to her and Giles training again, something that’s always pleasurable to watch. It’s also good to see that they’re willing to go to the Council for help when Giles has exhausted all his local resources, as they do here in reference to Glory.

I’m continuing to notice and appreciate the Buffy/Dawn bond develop due to the extreme hair stroking, which is a subtle visual cue that shows the strength of their connection. Their chat about Riley gives us insight into exactly what Buffy’s thinking, which is yet another thing that makes the characters so real and understandable on Buffy. Other shows have characters that are doing things, but I can’t help not caring simply because their thoughts and motives haven’t had the necessary writing to give the viewers any insight into who they are at every step of their journey. We get some more of this with the familial-like Buffy/Joyce/Giles sharing tea together scene at the end of the episode. It is sweet to see these three working together as a near-family unit. It makes one dream about the way things might have been had they not gone so wrong.

The central theme of this episode, though, is the mutual frustration between Anya and Willow finally popping. From the initial Anya/Willow fight in the shop to Anya getting angry at Willow for making fun of her and then floating stuff in her face to Anya flipping out when the cash register disappears due to Willow messing up, this material is both funny and realistic based on these characters’ personalities. I love how Xander and Tara bail, which then leads to Anya distracting Willow’s spell. This, of course, generates Olaf: the least entertaining part of the episode. I can forgive Olaf’s annoying oafishness a bit, though, because he’s the reason the scene in Giles’ car happens! Another fun, frantic, and witty exchange between two fun, frantic, and witty characters. After a bunch of relevant sniping and fun bantor, the real root of each others’ worries finally get exposed. Willow says that Anya is rude and that she’s worried Anya might hurt Xander in a vengeancy way. Anya, conversely, is worried that Willow still has romantic feelings for Xander and that she’ll take him away from her. She even brings up Xander’s Cordelia incident in S3.

Both of their concerns are very natural, given each others’ history, and it’s awesome the time was spent addressing them. When Olaf forces Xander to make a choice between Willow and Anya it’s good that he doesn’t choose between them. He loves both of these women in two ways a person can love someone: romantically and, well, not. Xander’s choice not only says something about his character, but it also spurs Willow and Anya to reconcile their differences. The two of them realize that Xander loves them both in equal but different ways and that neither of each other wants anything but the best for him.

While all of this has been going on, we get some more entertainment from Spike involving a chocolate box and a manniquin. He gets all worked up when talking to it like it’s really Buffy. Thanks to James Marsters, one can easily spot the complex and twisted emotions driving him in this scene. The demon in him wants to devour Buffy, but the remnants of William in him wants to be gentle and patient with her. These two halves conflicting with each other makes for not only great hilarity, but also some fascinating things to think about. He probes Xander on Buffy’s feeling about his involvement in Riley’s departure, which continues to prove that he genuinely cares what Buffy thinks of him. At first Xander pushes him off, but they amusingly end up chatting together over pool.

As I mentioned in the intro, my major problem with this episode lies with Olaf: he’s too campy and ends up rubbing off as silly. His presence combined with Buffy’s uber campy crying at the end of the episode just leave me with a sour taste in my mouth. These two things result in all of this episode’s lost points. I did, however, still find a lot to like including the usual sharp wit, humor based on the characters, and development of characters in general. In all, the usual on this series, but particularly amusing here. So while I enjoy this episode, it remains not one of the better S5 outings.


Minor Pros/Cons (+/-)

+ Xander missing Riley, and Anya’s speech about how even though men often dump their girls, the girls keep letting it happen.
+ The scene cut to Buffy and the nuns. “What’s it like being a nun?”
+ Willow mentions Amy again!
+ Spike mentions the flowering onion again and even calls it “brilliant.”
+ Spike holding Buffy down on the ground after she falls down. Then he wants credit for not feeding on bleeding disaster victims.
+ Anya bringing up the world without shrimp.

– Xander lasts way too long fighting with Olaf.
– Dawn being conveniently listening in on the conversation at the end of the episode. Contrived and a bit annoying.


* Buffy and Tara bond a bit after a class together. Buffy even cries on Tara’s shoulder, which of course foreshadows their connection in S6 and is similar (not in tone, obviously) to the end of “Dead Things” [6×13].




61 thoughts on “Buffy 5×11: Triangle”

  1. [Note: Dingdongalistic posted this comment on November 15, 2006.]

    I actually love Olaf – he really shouldn’t work, but it’s the kind of dumb humour I occasionally find amusing. The only thing I find somewhat annoying is Buffy’s crying, it feels overdone and comprises and unusual bad performance from Gellar.


  2. [Note: iamroot posted this comment on November 15, 2006.]

    IMO, Spike doesn’t have a Jekyll and Hyde split personality like Angel, he’s just mercurial and prone to mood swings.

    I agree with Dingdong, the crying was offputting, Olaf was fun. In fact I think he saves this episode for me.


  3. [Note: The Watcher posted this comment on November 15, 2006.]

    While I agree that Buffy’s crying was pretty silly, I can’t help but giggle when I watch the scene where she cries on Tara’s shoulder. It’s so over the top that I love it.


  4. [Note: Rick posted this comment on November 15, 2006.]

    Despite finding the scene humorous, I definitely agree that Buffy’s crying is out of character, as is much of her behaviour in this episode. In general, it seems Jane Espenson has trouble writing Buffy’s character (see The Zeppo and Pangs), which is unfortunate given her other immense talents.


  5. [Note: Spike and Harm’ posted this comment on December 5, 2006.]

    i disagree with Dingdongalistic (i never thought id type that) i love SMG’s preformance her crying is hilarious!


  6. [Note: buffyholic posted this comment on November 24, 2007.]

    I don´t mind Olaf at all, I find it funny. But the reason why this episode works so well for me is of course Willow and Anya. Seeing the two of them sparring so much and trying to solve their issues is very good and very in character. But I also agree with mikejer about Buffy: her crying is out of character and really overdone.
    This is one of S5 weaker episodes, although still pretty relevant and funny.


  7. [Note: BreakAtmo posted this comment on November 24, 2007.]

    I liked the crying, yes it was over the top, but it was funny in that way. And I thought Olaf was hysterical. I thought this ep was supposed to be light, and he worked with that. Abraham Benrubi rules.

    And I think that when Anya was pulling the ticking bomb analogy, we should have had a Zeppo reference from Xander, maybe some sort of jokey excuse for the badly timed, too-numerous beeps on the bomb. “You know that a bomb’s beeps don’t line up with the clock counting down? No, I swear it!”


  8. [Note: D posted this comment on January 19, 2008.]

    I love the scene where Buffy and Dawn are talking about Riley after talking to Joyce is very foreshadowing of Joyce’s departure (aka death). Especially with how they mention it getting easier…maybe not every day, but soon. And how it is better if it happens suddenly (less painful?).

    BTW I think the Scenes where Buffy cries are, yes overdone, but still very funny!


  9. [Note: Plain Simple posted this comment on February 26, 2008.]

    Re D: Indeed. Notice how Dawn says Riley’s gone to a place where no one can talk to him. How he’s gone so suddenly. It made me think of the upcoming death of Joyce immediately.

    Also the Anya-Xander conversation about him leaving her could be considered a bit of foreshadowing. Anya’s afraid Xander will leave her without warning and that is exactly what he is going to do, at the altar no less.

    Re BreakAtmo: nice one. I didn’t realise that the bomb thing ties back into the Zeppo (or could go back to that anyway). Xander could have made a comment about how most bombs are diffused without anyone even noticing which would both be a reference to The Zeppo but also a bit of foreshadowing about how in the future Xander and Anya are going to keep their marriage plans silent for a long time. (Bit of a stretch perhaps, that one.)


  10. [Note: Joshwaaa posted this comment on February 26, 2008.]

    I think it was cool that Anya mentioned when Willow broke up Xander and Cordelia, after all, Cordelia is the reason Anya came to Sunnydale in The Wish.


  11. [Note: Tony posted this comment on August 26, 2008.]

    I really really wanted Cordelia to come back for one more episode during the remainder of the series but it never happened. It would have been good to see her interact with the scooby gang once again. I also always wanted Buffy to see how much Cordelia changed. She probably still just thinks of her as a rich snobby bi-tch, but really, she helped save the world many times and changed, and … (SPOILER) … died.

    (END SPOILER) Yeah sorry for my Cordelia rant, lol. But yeah, Buffy’s crying is so out of character but really it was done for comedy, and I don’t mind.


  12. [Note: Shular posted this comment on August 29, 2008.]

    “ANYA: Xander? If you ever decide to go, I want a warning. You know, big flashing red lights, and-and-and one of those clocks that counts down like a bomb in a movie? And there’s a whole bunch of, of colored wires, and I’m not sure which is the right one to cut, but I guess the green one, and then at the last second “No! The red one!” and then click, it stops with three-tenths of a second left, but then you don’t leave. Like that, okay?
    XANDER: Check. Big bomb clock.”

    I really think this should come under forshadowing, when you compare Anya’s fear with how Xander walks out. The way Xander leaves is the exact oppositied of what she wanted, no warning whatsoever and at the exact worst time.


  13. [Note: Nix posted this comment on September 27, 2008.]

    I’m not sure I’d call Dawn listening in at the end of the episode all that contrived. She came downstairs and heard herself being talked about, so stopped to listen in. It’s a coincidence, sure, but not a terribly unlikely one, especially if (as now) someone living in the same house has just heard about the Key and thus is full of (mostly unanswerable) questions, and is asking in a common area.

    (How many people can say they haven’t learnt some deep and disturbing personal secret that way? … what? oh.)


  14. [Note: bigmoneygrip posted this comment on November 23, 2008.]

    Xander’s wrist – OUCH!
    I like Xander and Spike hanging together

    Music “Bohemian Like You” – love that song
    Spike “I’d do that but I’m paralyzed with not caring very much”

    I think Olaf merits a little sympathy. I mean, if he only dallied once, when he was drunk – he’s better than a lot of guys. Maybe the punishment was a little severe?


  15. [Note: Andrew posted this comment on November 26, 2008.]

    This is actually my favourite episode in series five so far, though I admit Fool for Love gives it a run for it’s money.
    I agree Olaf is silly, as are Buffy’s reactions, but unlike you I don’t object- this is basically a pure comedy episode: the silliness is part of the deal.
    Also, I think I’d have liked this episode however it turned out, simply because we’ve finally got rid of Riley. Sorry, but I just can’t stand him as a character.


  16. [Note: Till Eulenspiegel posted this comment on March 26, 2009.]

    Love, love, love Spike’s rehearsal with the box of chocolates.

    Also, Willow: “We’re not stealing, I’m just taking things without paying for them. In what twisted dictionary is that stealing?”


  17. [Note: Emily posted this comment on May 27, 2009.]

    “I think Olaf merits a little sympathy. I mean, if he only dallied once, when he was drunk – he’s better than a lot of guys. Maybe the punishment was a little severe?”

    ARE YOU KIDDING ME?? Just cuz he’s better than a lot of guys doesn’t mean he didn’t deserve to be turned into a troll. It’s disgusting to cheat on your girlfriend.

    I also agree with Andrew- this episode is meant as a comedy, so while Buffy’s crying is out of character, it’s meant to be funny, so I can accept it. I would’ve given this episode an 85 at least- it’s funny, it’s got character development, and the way Buffy handles Riley’s leaving is perfect because it truly shows us what we all suspected all along- she didn’t care for him as much as he did for her, and he was pretty much Mr. Rebound Guy for her. (Which I don’t condone- it’s just that it fits with her character). I think this is what we all needed before the seriousness of the season got into swing.


  18. [Note: Tara posted this comment on June 27, 2009.]

    I actually find this a rather forgettable episode. I never became particularly invested in Anya’s character until Season 6, where she acquired some amazing depth. Here, the writers are still playing her character too much for humour, which is a shame, as Emma Caulfield is an incredibly talented actress when given something to do. Later episodes such as Hell’s Bells and Entropy astounded me on a first viewing, as Anya’s emotional pain was heartrending and absolutely struck me to the core (to my great surprise). Like Tara this Season, I appreciate that the writers did take the time to address her character, but at this point, she still isn’t developed as much as I would have liked.

    I also found Buffy’s excessive crying irritating. Her earlier conversation with Dawn is both touching and very revealing and it was more of this that I wanted to see. I love the tender gesture of Buffy stroking Dawn’s hair, and her openness about her feelings of Riley leaving show that she is still very much connected to those around her and hasn’t yet withdrawn inside herself the way she feels she has in ‘Intervention’. However, the crying was way overdone and detracted from Buffy’s mature and self-reflective response. I understand that this was intended to be a comedy episode, but episodes such as Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered and Storyteller are all the more effective in that they’re prepared to blend the humour with emotional resonance.


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

    While the scene with Dawn was very well done, Buffy’s crying scenes were exceedingly annoying and served absolutely no purpose.

    The squabbling between Willow and Anya was fun to watch, and Olaf was rather funny at first, but got old fast.

    Well, hello, gay now—Best reason Willow is not going to steal Xander from Anya, plus I just love Alyson Hannigan’s delivery of this line.

    I also love the ‘million dollar wish’ line.

    An okay episode, but nothing exceptional.


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

    I LOVE Olaf! I think he’s hilarious.

    As an interesting side note, there was really a warlord called Olaf, and his wife, Anya, was apparently obsessed with money. I think they were vikings. Jane Espenson mentioned it on the commentary to ‘selfless’


  21. [Note: KatieJ posted this comment on October 12, 2009.]

    Agreed, bigmoneygrip, Bohemian Like You, great song, and good placement.

    There were many great episodes in S5, so one had to come in last, but Olaf the Troll is simply enchanting (glad they brought him back in S7), and Spike’s love affair with the bloomin’ onion continues! This episode is classic Buffy, where ubiquitous young adult drama is worked out in slightly skewed monster myth format. In this case, when your friend has to share you with your significant other, with a side of “You dated him?” (an issue covered in “The Yoko Factor”) This episode was a great break from the season arc, with a candy center of hilarious troll logic.


  22. [Note: Cirrus posted this comment on November 3, 2009.]

    I was initially surprised this was given the Worst of series award, but judging by its decent score, I guess it just only shows how good of a series 5 was. Still, this was really, really good for a filler episode.

    I actually liked Olaf. I didn’t think he was campy behind necessity, and I actually enjoyed watching him. I thought his lines were fantastic!


  23. [Note: Nathan.Taurus posted this comment on November 12, 2009.]

    Well, what can be said about ‘Triangle’? I think one of only a few redeeming features was Olaf. I really didn’t like Willow in this episode as she acted a bit too stuck up and out of character. I can understand her wanting to do magic but she was technically stealing goods. Does she have no respect for Giles?

    The other good part was Xander fighting to save Anya and Willow and Spike trying to get on Buffy’s good side by not feeding on helpless disaster victims.

    All in all I agree with you’re score.


  24. [Note: Eliznne23 posted this comment on December 1, 2009.]

    I believe Dan Vebber wrote The Zeppo, not Jane Espenson.

    And don’t forget the Buffy storyline (with the Hellmouth)

    was a send-up of the show and not meant to be taken seriously –

    just the writers having a little fun with the usual “A” story.


  25. [Note: fray-adjacent posted this comment on June 8, 2010.]

    I agree with your review, though Olaf doesn’t bother me so much. I loved the Season 1 camp but it’s out of place now, and Buffy’s silly tears are way OOC. Xander’s fight with Olaf is so annoying. He gets hit on the head with an enormous hammer and isn’t even knocked out, when Katrina gets hit by — what, a *glass*? — and dies?


  26. [Note: G1000 posted this comment on June 8, 2010.]

    This one was my “Pangs”. It was just so funny that I basically ignored the admittedly hokey plot.

    Loved that Olaf was brought back in “Selfless”, by the way.


  27. [Note: Jason posted this comment on August 30, 2010.]

    I thought Olaf was amusing, and I thought this was a pretty good episode, but I hated both of the Buffy emotional outbursts.

    I think I’m fairly consistently following a simple rule: The most important thing is that the characters stay true to themselves. I don’t mind silliness or campiness among the monsters, especially if it’s in the service of working out a real believable issue (like Willow’s and Anya’s friction). But I hate over-the-top silliness among the real characters: it makes them seem fake, and suddenly, the illusion is lost, and I’m aware that they’re just reciting lines written around some writer’s table.


  28. [Note: John posted this comment on January 6, 2011.]

    Great episode, the troll was hilarious. As a Willow fan, though, I tend to imagine that Xander would have chosen her if it really came down to it; he’s been incredibly close to Willow all his life. Anya, while he loves her, has been around for only a year and a half at this point. I don’t know if the degree of their relationship is really comparable. But again, that could just be my inner Willow fan speaking. 😛


  29. [Note: odigity posted this comment on January 21, 2011.]

    Can’t believe you didn’t like Olaf. Every one of his lines is comedy gold, and he speaks in the same odd, literal fashion as Anya and the rest of the people in her village (as seen in “7×05 Selfless”). It’s brilliant. He’s the highlight of the episode. I get excited every time I get to this episode because I get to see Olaf again.


  30. [Note: Neil posted this comment on March 29, 2011.]

    I disagree with the review I liked this episode an amusing counterpoint to the somber episidode before and to come.

    I especially enjoyed the scene with Xander, Sike and then Olaf in th Bronze, the “where can I find babies to eat” scene is laugh out loud funny.


  31. [Note: deadlego posted this comment on May 9, 2011.]

    The scene between buffy and dawn about riley is so touching considering joyce’s death.

    Joss Whedon’s shows are genre shows, are fantasy. But really they are about humanity, and just use fantasy to express that. This is emphasised by the fact that demons, horrendous creatures and even gods may be nasty and evil and destructive and murderous but ultimately it’s the human things (things that humans have to contend with even if their were no supernatural events or things) and the pain they cause that are the scariest. Loss, for instance, is a human thing that raises so many uncertainties whether it’s the grief over someone leaving or someone dying:-could i have done something more? how can i face never seeing them again? will i ever feel okay again? Next to these things the certainty of knowing that there are vampires out there that may well kill you-i’d take the vampires over the pain.


  32. [Note: deadlego posted this comment on May 17, 2011.]

    Overall I totally agree with the ‘C+’, the episode has a few really great character bits which make it worth watching along with some really funny stuff. However I feel the humorous bits go too OTT though and the episode has very little overall relevance so I too couldn’t rate it any higher.

    One thing I would like to mention is how Willow’s problem with and behaviour towards Anya shows us some of her own simmering problems, as well as her problem with Anya. In a way her treatment of Anya shows us how much more confident she has become which is good for her in comparison to how we first saw her in S1. However, Willow used to be the one to always suggest talking things out, and taking the more diplomatic route in conflict situations. Now she is really quite cruel at times with her taunting and even childishly imitating Anya. We see how as she is doing more and more magic and becoming more powerful she is becoming less empathetic and less aware, or maybe even noticing and not caring, towards the feelings of those close to her.


  33. [Note: keekey posted this comment on December 5, 2011.]

    This ep also foreshadows the mischief that Amy will cause in Seasons 6 and 7 when Willow tells Tara that she used something to try to “de-rat” Amy and the spell failed but “it may have made Amy really smart! She keeps looking at me and rubbing her paws together like she’s planning something.”


  34. [Note: Mur posted this comment on January 7, 2012.]

    I don’t like Willow in this episode. This is another episode in a long list of eps with the plot “Willow has a S.O. but is jealous when other people do anything together.”

    And she *was* stealing.


  35. [Note: amberpoochie posted this comment on January 7, 2012.]

    I dont really like this episode that much and have been known to skip past it on occasions (for shame!!).

    I fully understand the issues that Willow and Anya have with each other but I dont understand why these would erupt at this point. Would Anya’s insecurities not have been at their greatest when Willow became single after Oz departed? Why, now that Willow is with Tara, would Anya chose to let her issues rise to the surface? Its out of place here with regards to the overall story and as a result I almost have a ‘I dont care about this right now’ feeling.

    I think that it is interesting to compare the way Buffy deals with Riley leaving to the way she dealt with Angel leaving. When Angel ended things we had a wonderfully heartbreaking scene where she is almost inconsolably weeping to Willow. When it ends with Riley she reacts very differently, which almost comical hysterics. I think this highlights the very different feelings she had for both men.


  36. [Note: Alex posted this comment on January 9, 2012.]

    Mur, I completely agree. I’m totally on Anya’s side in this episode – Willow justifies her ‘stealing’ by saying that she’s working on ways to help Buffy, but in reality I think she’s just having fun playing with new spells and is taking advantage of the Magic Box in order to do so. Anya’s solution of sitting there writing down everything she uses is a little petty, but to be honest I think I’d be tempted to do something similar if someone kept coming to my shop and helping themselves to things.


  37. [Note: Ryan ONeil posted this comment on June 10, 2012.]

    How about this for Buffy’s crying at the beginning: Buffy knew that everybody else thought she loved Riley the way she thought she did until Xander called her out, and she and Xander hadn’t told anybody about the exchange, so she was putting on a show to keep them off her back (like the beginning of Season 6, but not as much so), but it wasn’t working very well because her acting skills are unreliable at best (kudos to SMG for all of the times she has successfully played a bad actress who failed to play a cover role*).

    Fortunately, “Intervention” implies that her friends aren’t as good as they think they are (or should be) at telling when her behavior isn’t what it should be for a situation, so her over-acting went unnoticed (except to us)

    *except for when the good actress SMG is playing the bad actress Buffy playing a bad actress (like the BuffyBot at the end of “Intervention”)


  38. [Note: johnc posted this comment on August 19, 2012.]

    I’m with Nathan on this one. Willow was out of character and becsuse that aspect was needed to move the plot along the whole episode seemed contrived to me. This was my least favorite episode in a long time including all the crape in season 4.


  39. [Note: Less newt posted this comment on August 21, 2012.]

    Ryan ONeil, that’s a really interesting thought. I don’t agree, but am glad to have read it. I provide this alternative: Buffy is drunk. I’ve had friends act exactly this melodramatic about others’ relationships after breakups (“theirs is a beautiful love”), but only ever while drunk. Buffy turned to booze after Parker left, so why not here?

    I agree that the evidence is sparse, and I don’t really believe what I just wrote, but while we’re tossing out interesting theories… 🙂

    MikeJer, I didn’t read Buffy as not having hardcore emotions here. I read her as dealing with her emotions differently here than she did when she was younger. I took her to be coping with her sadness, but to be rather emotionally fragile, hence the melodrama about others’ relationships. (Although I also think the melodrama is overwritten.) Remember that at the end of the previous episode, she more or less collapses slowly on the stairs when she gets home.


  40. [Note: Summer posted this comment on December 29, 2012.]

    This is a really amusing episode. I would give it at least a B. It’s fun that we get to see Xander as desirable! And I like feisty Willow mixing with insensitive yet strangely earnest Anya. Buffy’s protection of Xander and Anya’s love is both amusing and heart warming, really. I like her seeing them as the relationship she never had when she used to see them as just a big joke. And how can you not like Olaf, especially if you were an ER fan! This episode is one of my faves.Xander’s scream when his wrist gets broken… lol and yikes.


  41. [Note: Arachnea posted this comment on March 4, 2013.]

    As always with BtVS, I’m willing to forgive a silly plot. It was an overwritten comedy, so Olaf fit right in and gave some little funny scenes.

    I liked the interactions between Xander and Spike. They despise each other but they can still relate on some topics, which was never the case between Xander and Angel.

    The problem between Anya and Willow began with the second appearance of Anya and never subsided, so it was about time they adressed it ! What I didn’t like was the disrepect Willow shows towards Giles by stealing and saying he’s an idiot. At this point in the series, we’ve seen Willow very much in need of Giles and she likes him like a second father. Proof was when she was the only one in the secret of Giles leaving or her wanting a hug in hush.

    But everything else was very good and very true. Willow’s fears aren’t silly because Anya’s thought are still often about vengeance. Anya’s fears are justified (for a lover) because Willow is close to the one she loves and she (and Xander) was the cause of Xander’s first break-up. Willow’s right, in more than one year, Anya should have learned a bit more about basic diplomacy and Anya’s remark about D’Hoffryn offering a job to Willow was spot on.

    But of course, the worst is, even in a comedy, Buffy’s reaction. We get two nice insights with Giles and Dawn. I very much believe that she is hurt because a breakup is always painful and this one was very abrupt. She didn’t realise that Riley was the rebound, security and comfort guy but that doesn’t mean that their connection meant nothing. So, it’s not the tears that bugged me, but what she said about true and eternal love: it’s so disconnected from what she had with Riley ! It was true about her first teen love.

    Oh, and Spike’s behaviour and actions are delightfully very very disturbing this season.


  42. [Note: Hubert posted this comment on September 1, 2013.]

    The cash register. I laughed so hard when Willow made the cash register disappear the first time. ‘She endangered the money!’ But when she did it again- I was actually rolling on the floor laughing, something I’m not prone to do. Believe me, I love deep, emotional, intellectual, philosophical drama as much as anybody else, and Buffy does it better than anybody else, but… the cash register made my day. I’m laughing about it as I type.

    This episode contains one of my favorite lines from the entire series. Buffy to the Nun: Do you have to be super religious? Oh my.

    I didn’t mind Olaf. Olaf was the 800 pound troll in the room: the Anya/Willow tension. Sure, he was overblown, but so were Willow and Anya’s fears. It was their fears and their distrust that did all the damage.

    All in all, while using the rubric that you do for grading the episodes, I think your score is fair, I love this episode to pieces and I think it’s hysterical. In terms of the funniest Buffy episodes, I’d only rate it below Storyteller, Something Blue, and Once More, With Feeling.


  43. [Note: JustJenna posted this comment on September 28, 2013.]

    I guess I’m one of the few who thought Willow’s flippant behavior and overall arrogance were out of character. I don’t believe she would be so disrespectful toward Giles (calling him an idiot? Really?) and I also have a hard time believing she would be so outright nasty towards Anya, regardless of how she felt about her. I was totally on Anya’s side in this episode, and I’m not even much of an Anya fan. It felt like the writers didn’t know their characters. It reminds me of the scene in season four where Willow takes a huge bite of Buffy’s sandwich without asking – again not something she would do. While it’s true that Willow’s confidence and arrogance seems to grow as her magical power does, I didn’t believe her personality would change so drastically.

    Buffy’s crying was also out of character. Buffy is a very private person and over the top displays of emotion are not part of her personality. She never even let Riley see her cry when her mom was in the hospital. I have a hard time believing she would cry on Tara’s shoulder – someone she only recently accepted as part of her adopted family – and especially not in a crowded college walkway. Someone mentioned her behaviour in Pangs as comparable to her behaviour here and I agree – while she has many talents, Espenson does not seem to “get” Buffy’s character and I don’t think she really understands Willow very well either.

    But there are some pros here.

    To me, this episode wonderfully foreshadows Willow’s upcoming abuse of magic – she is already teetering on the brink and her arrogance about her power is starting to show. Tara is clearly able to handle such magicks – Willow not so much.

    I really like seeing Tara mirroring Willow’s confidence, but in a much healthier way than Willow. She looks better, her stutter is all but gone, and she is strong enough to leave Willow to work out her issues with Anya on her own. Yet with all of this, she retains her nature: sweet, kind Tara. In a lot of ways this Tara reminds me of early Willow: shy, kind, and eager to please. Despite her experience with magic and the power she possesses, she is able to hold onto her true self, something Willow struggles with. It’s because of this that I like Tara so much better than I do this Willow. It is not Willow’s struggle I dislike but rather the way she behaves once she becomes powerful – rather like Cordelia, except that unlike Cordelia, she will never admit it. Cordelia was a bitch but she’d never deny that. Willow becomes rather bitchy, but pretends she’s not. It’s the nastiness coupled with the denial that I dislike. Own who you are Willow!


  44. [Note: Nebula Nox posted this comment on November 22, 2013.]

    It seems to me that Willow has been waiting for Giles to leave so that she can experiment with magic. Giles is only going to be gone for a few days, so surely she could have waited for him.

    What is interesting is that Anya, too, is not telling the truth. She knew the troll; she had created him.


  45. [Note: Faith posted this comment on November 22, 2013.]

    JustJenna, I think you are being overly critical here. I think Willow’s development has been slowly building up to the point where it is no longer out of character to see her be outright cruel on occasions – and Willow has evidently disliked Anya ever since Doppelgangland (where, hilariously, she punches her in the face.) Also, I don’t think you could take the sandwich scene in Living Conditions as anything other than comedy.

    Also, given what else is in her repertoire, I think it’s fair to say Espenson has a good grasp on all of the characters – particularly well articulated by the ‘hearing thoughts’ in Earshot.


  46. [Note: Nebula Nox posted this comment on December 19, 2013.]

    There is a continuity issue with Anya’s driving difficulties, as in the Graduation Day two parter she mentions having a car and tries to get Xander to drive away with her.


  47. [Note: Calon posted this comment on April 2, 2014.]

    Agree with your review and the score you gave. One little thing I’d like to add is the visible parallel between the ‘ball of sunshine’ Willow tries to conjure up in this episode and the fireball that she eventually becomes powerful enough to do so in Grave. Neat bit of foreshadowing, both in terms of how Willow’s use of magic leads to a destructive situation in a troll being released (“He’s not a ball of sunshine”), and how she’s using magic here in the name of trying to help people/be useful when by Season 6 it’s become completely about her own power.

    It’s subtle but it highlights how much both her intention for using magic and power change over time.


  48. [Note: Boscalyn posted this comment on June 30, 2014.]

    I think my favorite thing about this episode is Willow’s “gay now” line, because it marked the point where the show explicitly refers to Willow as gay. No dildo crystals, no “she’s my girlfriend,” none of that skirting the issue. “Gay now.”

    And les-be-honest here (winky face), that whole “magic as metaphor for homosexuality” shit was played to death by the end of season 4.


  49. [Note: Lydia posted this comment on July 23, 2014.]

    How can you guys not love this episode? It’s hilarious. Troll humor, Buffy crying over the possibility of Xander and Anya’s breakup? Quality Anya time. Willow: I wish Buffy were here Buffy: I’m here! Willow: I wish I had a million dollars. Just checking.

    It’s just such a cutie patootie episode. Filler, certainly, but good filler. And I’m happy they didn’t let Buffy be all wallowy and angsty over Riley’s departure. Comedically depressed Buffy is much more entertaining. I met a nun and she let me try on her wimple.

    I don’t get why you guys are all so pissy about Buffy’s hilarious crying, slightly overdone yes, but Buffy seems adorable and funny. I’m tired of her angst, seen enough of it with Angel to last a lifetime. I like how they didn’t make Buffy all depressed and wallowly, but affected heavily at the same time. Anyway I like this episode. It sort of highlights the double standard the gang always seem to apply to Spike and Anya (no one seems to care about all the people Anya murdered over the centuries) while at the same time pointing out the differences between them (Anya loves Xander and would sacrifice herself for him – though it’s still pretty Xander-specific and how is that really different from Spike?). I love Anya, but the treating-Spike-like-shit thing was getting overdone and irritating. Talking about Spike, god I love him! He makes every episode for me. One of my favorite bits of this episode was the chatter between Xander and Spike about women. We always see women talking about the men in their lives in a serious way but men, not so much. I also admire how they manage to balance the comedy, pathos and danger that is Spike. Also, Xander and Spike have chemistry! Okay, Spike and everybody has chemistry… Anyway Spike is fantastic in this episode with the practising the apology and helping the disaster victims for buffy! I also love the awkwardness between the two of them on screen. Buffy is so, very oblivious over here about his feelings.

    This episode is hilarious. I DO NOT UNDERSTAND WHY YOU DO NOT LIKE OLAF. Olaf is just loads of fun, and I love the way he talks. “Will there be babies?” Hahah. “Call Buffy?” and Spike’s “I would but I’m paralyzed with not caring very much.”
    Anya never really has been a proper part of the gang, and this episode finally addresses her ex-demon-not-really-one-of-us status. It makes sense that Willow is concerned that Anya is eventually going to hurt Xander in a big way. And it also makes sense that Anya feels threatened by Xander’s friends. I basically love almost everything about this episode. Are a few bits overdone? Yes. But the rest was great, we don’t need more heavy mopey stuff, this season already has plenty! This episode was like a good, much-needed break from all that. And I really don’t think that an episode should be rated lower for using a hokey demon, almost every second Buffy episode has a hokey demon, its no big deal because there’s so much other great stuff going on.


  50. [Note: LoveroftheBuffer posted this comment on July 23, 2014.]

    Finally someone else has a soft spot for this number! I do love this episode although it’s not as good as other stand alone episodes! I’m a fan because it’s generally funny. Granted it’s no where near A range but a lovely B- might work! However it is definitely the worse episode of season five which in itself is a compliment


  51. [Note: MichaelJB posted this comment on October 18, 2015.]

    Something interesting happened in this episode – when Olaf bursts into the magic shop, Anya deliberately gets in front of Willow to shield her. This seemed instinctive, which is especially interesting considering the characters’ (soon-to-be-alleviated) friction. Anya knows how dear Willow is to Xander – a part of her is threatened by this, but another part wants to protect her, and knows that it would ultimately be her (Anya’s) own fault if anything happened to Willow because of Olaf.

    Also, more foreshadowing: Buffy and Willow both state with tremendous affirmation that neither one would ever hurt Zander. In both cases, this will prove to be untrue.


  52. [Note: TheDoThatGirl posted this comment on June 28, 2016.]

    My goodness, I hated Willow in this episode. I was completely on Anya’s side. Plus, I find it interesting how Willow berates Anya for speaking her mind all of the time, saying that she should “Learn the rules” of being human when Anya was speaking her mind the first time she was human as evidenced in 7X05 ‘Selfless.’


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