Cultural Catchup Project: “Doppelgangland” (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)

“Doppelgangland”

May 29th, 2010

“Different circumstances, that could be me.”

You can follow along with the Cultural Catchup Project by following me on Twitter (@Memles), by subscribing to the category’s feed, or by bookmarking the Cultural Catchup Project page where I’ll be posting a link to each installment.

When I remarked a while ago that I intended on focusing on fewer individual episodes during Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s third season, there was a resounding chorus which indicated that “Doppelgangland” absolutely had to be one of them. Not one to fight against a group capable of such raucous consensus, I made a note of it and so here we are.

However, let’s rewind for a second to that initial moment where the episode was suggested so heavily. At the time, since the commenters were so kind as to avoid spoilers, I had no idea why they were suggesting “Doppelgangland;” while when we eventually get to an episode like “Hush” I know enough about the plot to have some sense of what to anticipate, here I have no expectations beyond the comment hype. Is everyone so interested in it because it features a huge step forward for the mythology (like “Surprise”/”Innocence?”), or is it that the episode offers something different that has captured fans’ collective attention?

Part of what makes Buffy so great is that there isn’t just one kind of “good” episode, which meant that all of the hype in the world couldn’t have kept “Doppelgangland” from being at least a bit mysterious when I sat down to watch it. I can’t entirely speak for those who requested the episode, but I can say for me personally that this one’s worth writing about because it’s a barrel full of fun which doesn’t feel like it sacrifices the show’s complexity to achieve such enjoyment. The episode is a rumination on Willow’s unique place as both the most “innocent” (through her general attitude in life) and the most “corrupted” (through the dark arts) of the Scoobies, and the dualities therein give Alyson Hannigan some fantastic material and simultaneously become a thematic consideration that is meaningful to the series’s larger narrative.

When I wrote about “The Wish,” people indicated that Anyanka would be returning in the future, so in some ways this episode offers what could be considered a payoff to that particular episode. As I noted in that review, I was actually a bit disappointed that “The Wish” felt like it did little to connect its concept to Cordelia’s character: I understood after the fact that it was never intended to serve that function, but to me the concept of the alternate reality where Buffy never arrived in Sunnydale and the Master rose and turned Xander and Willow into vampires only reaches its full potential when we see how the characters respond to it. Having Cordelia die as she did may have been realistic, but after her breakup with Xander the character has been marginalized, and that episode remains a missed opportunity to better orient the viewer to her new position on the periphery of the series’ action.

Really, “The Wish” could have been Cordelia’s “The Zeppo,” where Xander’s unique position within the group was investigated through his own side-adventure dominating the narrative despite a largely unseen apocalyptic threat being battled by the other characters. I really liked “The Zeppo” – and liked “The Wish” for what it was, just so we’re clear – but felt it sort of elided some of the series’ complexity. It implied that in order to really understand Xander’s role in the group, we had to abandon the rest of the show’s characters and its larger world and see Xander caught up in a different type of story. I’m not arguing it was ineffective, or that the humorous glimpses into the battle against the monster emerging from the Hellmouth weren’t enjoyable, but rather that its tongue-and-cheek approach is much like Xander himself: capable of some strong moments of emotion, but ultimately playing the role of comic relief more often than not. I like the meaning behind that, in that telling Xander’s story results in an episode which like Xander sits at an awkward (though enjoyable) intersection of the series’ mythology and its sense of humour, but it does result in an episode with less “meaning” to the series as a whole.

Cue “Doppelgangland,” in which Joss Whedon does everything I hoped these two episodes would be able to do and retroactively convinces me that perhaps I expected too much from these earlier segments. While I liked the alternate universe in theory, it seemed to be missing that connection to our characters beyond the novelty factor, so I was thrilled to see Whedon transport Vampire Willow into our universe. And while I liked the idea of investigating the different role each character plays in the broader conflict, I wanted to see the show accomplish this within a less self-contained storyline, so I was equally thrilled to see Willow’s identity episode play out on a larger scale. I don’t know if I’m entirely satisfied with the work the show has done with Cordelia after her breakup with Xander, but this episode takes the structures and ideas present in those episodes to the next level, which is exactly what you want to see from a series as it evolves.

It helps that Willow is one of the show’s most versatile characters, which is what makes the grand scale of the episode work. As noted above, she is perhaps the show’s most “innocent” character in terms of her general demeanor, and yet she is also the most capable of veering towards darkness due to her dalliances in the black arts (and yes, for those of you reading this who have seen the entire series, I do know how portentous this statement is). It is perhaps the clearest duality of any of the show’s characters: while Giles’ past is still fairly mysterious, and the complicated relationship between Angel’s vampiric qualities and his soul is, well, complicated, Willow wears her heart on her knitted sweaters, and when she become possessed (in a sense) at the conclusion of “Becoming” we jumped less because of what was happening and more because of who it was happening to and the juxtaposition therein.

“Doppelgangland” nicely captures this by focusing on Willow’s discovery that she has “OD’d on virtue” and has subsequently developed a reputation as someone willing to be pushed around, someone who is reliable to a fault. Some people actually take advantage of this part of her personality: seizing on her willingness to teach Ms. Calendar’s class following her death, Principal Snyder uses that precedent to coerce Willow into doing a star basketball player’s homework. Meanwhile, other characters have just sort of gotten used to it: Giles orders her to complete a task on the computer in a brisk fashion because he knows that it’s something she enjoys doing, while Buffy and Xander expect her to purposefully bomb a test to avoid wrecking the curve because she’s always offering to help them with their homework. When Willow gets sucked into Anya’s attempts to regain her amulet and connect with the other world, it’s because she wants to live dangerously; of course, once she actually sees the glimpses of what Anya wants to visit, her sensibilities waver and she realizes that she doesn’t want to live dangerously so much as she wants to answer that hypothetical “What If” question which “The Wish” brought to the surface.

As much as Vampire Willow was fun in “The Wish,” Alyson Hannigan just lets loose here and the result is both really interesting and really entertaining. It’s amazing the emotional rollercoaster that results from the story: you get the pleasure of seeing Willow attack Percy (who was earlier such a dick to her about his Roosevelt paper) followed by the horror that Buffy and Xander experience when they believe Willow to be dead. Plus, at that point in the story, we don’t know if the two Willows have switched places or something else entirely, so we too wonder whether something darker has happened to Willow than we would presume. The show can then shift into our Willow being very weirded out by the presence of a sexed-up and “a little gay” version of herself, followed by Willow’s attempt to walk in Vampire Willow’s shoes (or, in particular, her attempt to wear her dominatrix outfit). That it manages to do all of this is pretty impressive, and Hannigan is really fantastic in terms of expanding Vampire Willow into a more fleshed out character (who has her own arc of sorts, struggling to return home to where she’s comfortable only to die just as she did in “The Wish”) while also capturing Willow’s response to this insurrection.

It really all comes down to that final scene, where Willow tries to convince Anya and the vampires that she is, in fact, Vampire Willow. It’s a wonderful scene for the small moments like Willow sneaking in a wave to Oz to let him know what’s up or her inability to speak in anything close to an intimidating tone of voice – Hannigan is a great comic actress, so we eat all of that up. However, I love when she starts talking about why it was that she had to kill Willow, and she starts discussing all of the personal weaknesses she was attempting to overcome earlier in the episode. Of course, we understand that she is transcending those qualities through her bravery within this scene, and that in her ability to spin this tale and help rescue Oz and the rest of the innocents in the Bronze she is proving both the value of her reliability and the sometimes dangerous lengths she is willing to go to in order to help out those she loves. While Vampire Willow does provide a sort of basic “look what you’d be like if you went entirely over to darkness and stopped being yourself” comparative, it also forces Willow to engage with the balance within her life and find a way to figure it all out. By the end of the episode, you feel like Willow has a much clearer understanding of where she is more comfortable, with the added bonus that Percy is terrified of what she might be capable of – rather than changing the character, it simply gives her a new outlook on her own life.

It also fits in nicely with some of the series’ current storylines, including one that the episode advances without really spending much time with it. We see Faith earlier in the episode as she’s returning from the Slayer Test of sorts, and then we see her getting comfortable in her new living arrangements organized by Mayor Wilkins, but she disappears after that. However, the quote at the beginning of the post is about Faith and not Willow, a comment Buffy makes as she reflects on Faith’s struggles following her accidental killing of the Deputy mayor. The idea that different circumstances could result in a different outcome is one of life’s basic instincts, but with a character like Faith she’s avoiding it entirely. She chooses to side with the Mayor because she feels she should be embracing rather than “confronting” the violent side of her personality, as that is in some ways easier than going through the psychoanalytic testing that the Watchers’ Council is subjecting them to. Faith hasn’t become evil so much as she has decided to ignore her sense of duality and become something different, playing a role just as much as Willow was playing a role when she put on that leather number. She is just better at it than Willow is, and while the episode doesn’t try to put a button of her story as it relates to this subject Whedon’s script makes a lot of nice subtle connections on that level which maintain narrative momentum within an episode that otherwise focuses in on a single character.

However, while there is definite value to those sort of broader ruminations on the season, what makes “Doppelgangland” stand out is just how fun it is. For example, as much as the way everyone responds to Willow’s supposed death says something about their real appreciation for the character, their discussion of how much more important she was than Xander or Giles’ explosive hug were brilliant comic moments that worked within those meanings. Similarly, as much as Willow confronting Vampire Willow made for some meaningful character study, the image of Alyson Hannigan licking her own neck managed to be so creepy and uncanny that it overcame the special effects that show the series’ age (but were surely impressive for the time). And the show even worked in some signs of future developments as Cordelia puts on a sexy dress to visit with Wesley and her beau of sorts saves her from Vampire Willow in an interesting little side story. It’s not like the episode got so caught up in alternate dimensions or one specific character that it forgot about everyone else; “Doppelgangland” is momentous not because it changes or shifts the series in any particular way, but because it offers a microcosm of the show’s ability to engage with complex notions of plot and character while still capturing the little things which endear us to the series as a whole.

In other words, the Cultural Catchup Commenters (CCCs?) certainly got this one right.

Cultural Observations

  • I noticed that Angel had a different answer to Buffy’s open question about whether or not vampires draw any of their personality traits from the human they once were from the one he gives, a change he makes to keep Willow from being even more weirded out by it all. I presume that this speaks to the ongoing conversation about Liam/Angel that’s been going on in the comments, as well as likely many future vampires in the series’ narrative.
  • My one complaint: I hate to go back to my issues about “The Wish,” but it seems unfair that Cordelia’s attempt to have an honest conversation with a caged Willow about her breakup with Xander both happens mainly offscreen and ends up being false closure. Like with “The Wish,” I think the character’s post-breakup position deserves an episode of its own, so the tease was unappreciated. That said, I thought this was a nice first step for her and Wesley, should the show be heading in that direction.
  • Speaking of Wesley, interesting to note the transformation over the course of these episodes: sure, the commenters prepared me for the idea that he would have an “arc,” but right off the bat it seems like the character’s quirks have become part of the show’s universe here in a way they weren’t in the previous episodes. I particularly loved his jump when Cordelia put her hand on his back – wonderful comedy from Denisof.
  • I don’t have any sort of substantial affection for Oz, but I missed his “voice” in the series: his realistic take on every situation (like his “radical reading of the text” remark regarding Willow’s anxiety over not getting invited to his gig) is a nice antidote to some of the other voices on the series, and his absence in certain episodes has been noted (although subtly).
  • Really enjoyed the moment in the final moments where the two Willows both scoff at Anya’s vow to return and smite them all in the future – scoffing is an underappreciated art, and that Hannigan could bring two different yet similar scoffs to the table shows truly quality acting.
  • I’m all for Whedon’s quirky dialogue in most instances, but I thought “Sanity Fair” was an example of Joss taking it too far.
  • I think this was mentioned earlier as something someone wanted comment on, but I thought the music really sold the tone of this episode quite well: it may have been a bit too bouncy as if to indicate which parts of the episode we were supposed to be finding funny, but I liked the effect it had in those scenes regardless of whether it may have been a bit too prescriptive. So long as the prescription is the right one I’m not particularly concerned, so I quite enjoyed that part of the episode.
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72 Comments

Filed under Cultural Catchup Project

72 responses to “Cultural Catchup Project: “Doppelgangland” (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)

  1. James

    You definitely need to do an expanded review “The Prom” as it will address some of the issues you have brought up.

    • rosengje

      Yes please! The Prom is actually my all-time favorite episode of Buffy and I think thematically you would have a lot to discuss in an expanded review.

      How are you finding the seasons to stack up against each other? I find Season 3 to be the best as a whole, but I don’t know if the show ever topped the highs of Season 2’s Angelus arc.

  2. Eldritch

    I love the episode. But I just had an odd thought.

    When Anyanka created the world in which vamps Xander and Willow existed, she didn’t create a parallel or alternate universe. She changed reality. The ONLY reality.. When changed-Giles smashed her amulet, that changed reality reverted to our current reality. So vamp Willow doesn’t and never existed.

    (Not that it matters. The episode was too much fun.) But where did vamp Willow come from?

    • I don’t want to even think about that… V-Willow is just too much fun! 😉

      • greg

        But recall that Anya’s spell doesn’t pull vampire!Willow from a current timeline of an alternate universe (i.e. it’s not as if the Wishverse is still “running” after the amulet was destroyed), she goes back in time a few moments to right before v!W is staked, implying (to me, at least) that what Joss had in mind is more like a viewer rewinding a tape of the show to their favorite part.

        ‘Doppelgangland’ still remains my third favorite episode of the series (after ‘The Body’ and ‘Restless’), not uncoincidentally because I continue to have a raging crush on Willow and, really, the only complaint I have with the episode is how long the struggle between the two Willows (in the Bronze) takes before Buffy comes to the rescue. Really, a vampire should have been able to snap her neck lie a twig.

  3. Mimi

    Wow, this is really fun and interesting to read (and I watched Buffy after Firefly, so I know what it’s like) but it’s kind of really hard to say anything at this point other than – ENJOY!

  4. Jack_Kay

    I was actually going to post this on your previous “Depths of Darkness” post focusing on the four episodes prior to “Doppelgangland” but then I just decided to wait til you’d posted your in-depth review of this one and so a couple of things (such as my Massive paragraph about the music…) have been slightly answered by you already – as in you mentioned liking the effect of the music even if it was a little bouncy! – but I think some of this is still relevant:

    I’m loving that you’re really getting into the more mature/darker elements of the series – even though Buffy can do cheese better than most – it still retains this great sense of darkness, mainly through the actions of the characters than the actual action of the current “threat” so to speak, although these lines often blur when the characters actions are motivated by or connected to the threat or villain they are all facing.

    I’ve noticed on some of your recent Lost posts (a show I’m not really a big fan of due to what I believe to be a series of gimmicks to keep the audience believing they are watching something much more weighty than they are – i.e. with the constant overtly ambiguous mysteries or relentless hints at unachievable destinies and most particularly the repetitive cliffhanger syndrome, something I believe to be the biggest gimmick of all – and for some reason I could handle this more in Abrams’ Alias as I liked the story surrounding it, and also in Fringe which is essentially the simplest thing Abrams has done in a while and better/funner for it IMO – but anyhow I’ve still been watching Lost because my significant other has…) but you have been raving about Michael Giacchino’s score (something I also find a little repetitive and similar to the later Alias scores too – but I do find a couple of pieces really very moving such as A Matter of Life and Death) and I wondered what you think of Christophe Beck’s rather magnificent score so far in Buffy??

    I must apologise for just rather profusely insulting a series you clearly feel passionately about too… It’s only my personal vendetta, I can see the intrigue in Lost, it’s just not for me.
    I prefer a smaller group of identifiable/relatable characters and issues that I can get to grips with and become deeply invested/involved in – ala Buffy!

    But Beck started at the beginning of Season 2 and actually won an Emmy (one of the very few Buffy was ever even nominated for!-travesty) for his musical handiwork in “Becoming”, and though I actually think some of his best compositions are yet to come in Season 4 (his final full season) plus his contributions to the Season 5 finale and the Season 6 musical, many of the previous are very impressive.
    His ability to produce amazingly intense and dramatic action pieces which compliment the well-choreographed fight scenes (some very stunning in the upcoming “Graduation Day” episode), followed by heart-rending emotional tour-de-forces that really embody the emotions of the characters’ anguish (such as a beautiful score in the upcoming “The Prom”), followed by very punchy and effective scores that set more of a comedic tone (as in Dead Guys with Bombs from “The Zeppo”, or a lot of the music in “Doppelgangland”) and finally rounded off by various creepy, tense or atmospheric ambient music scores to accompany any number of in-betweeny scenes – dream sequences for example.
    A lot of these are available on the different Buffy soundtrack releases and I for one am often completely blown away by the impact they have on the series.

    Just wondered of your opinion ☺

    Also, when you come to the end of this season, or each new season you finish even, it might be nice to have a little comment or so on your particular favourite episodes, seasons or moments of the show so far! That would be a sweet little addition.

    Thankyou! Keep up the good work Myles.
    I’m reading from the UK just so ya know, I think I remember reading you were from Canada somewhere…?

    I also like that you enjoyed the meta-narrative storytelling in this ep particularly (Doppelgangland) that brings various elements from a previous seemingly standalone ‘concept’ episode into the forefront of the characters current arc and journey. That was a cool idea.

    And I hate to downplay a Buffy episode – but one thing that always got me about this one is that in a small town like Sunnydale, wouldn’t all the people in the Bronze recognise Vampire Willow as Willow Rosenberg from round the corner and be able to identify her as the murderous hostage taker… or do they just all accept it’s a different entity entirely… Never mind. I love it anyway hah!

    • Right on about the score! Beck did a wonderful job, I’ve got a couple of the pieces on my itunes and play them regularly (particularly the haunting melody that is the Buffy/Angel love theme, still gives me goosebumps whenever I hear it!) 🙂

    • Christophe Beck scored The Hangover. Whenever I see his name come up on screen, I scream “Buffy!”

      Christophe Beck, however, did not score my favorite piece of Buffy music. That honor goes to Robert Duncan in season seven.

  5. I think you’ve hit the nail on the head. This is a quintessential Buffy episode.

  6. par3182

    If the Emmys hadn’t been so allergic to the show this might’ve been a winner for Hannigan. My favorite line reading: “Gosh, look at those”.

  7. James

    I was also going to ask the about about the score Jack_Kay so thanks for doing so. 😛

  8. James

    I apologize for commenting right below my own post but my sentence-structure was previously awful due to typing on my phone.

  9. Karen

    A terrific review Myles. (it’s a shame you aren’t doing more *single episode*reviews…hint…hint…)

    Some of my own observations~
    This is a prime episode that reflects BtVS’s overall quality, that upon rewatching, you will notice more things, and see connections even better, as if the entire show is one long arc of development for characters.

    Your line, “It really all comes down to that final scene, where Willow tries to convince Anya and the vampires that she is, in fact, Vampire Willow…” is a great one. Not sure if you meant it, but from Angel’s point-of-view (as you noted) Willow IS IN FACT Vampire Willow. This is indeed a facet of Innocent Willow’s personality, one she keeps suppressed, one she has under control (?) – and plays directly to the issue of whatever the mysterious vampiric connection is between human and demon within the vampire. I’m on Angel’s side…Buffy sees this in a simplistic way, because she can’t afford to be distracted in her mission. But this cuts too clearly for me, since a major theme I teach when studying history is the tendency/need? to *demonize* the enemy. I’d say more, as it relates to Willow, but spoiler territory lies ahead…..

    And yes….the Emmys should hang their collective heads in shame that this show received such little love and attention. It’s bad enough to compare to the winners of the time, but when you look at the nominees, and realize BtVS wasn’t even nominated……

  10. So glad you gave this one an in-depth review, it’s one of my favourite episodes of the series! The double-dose of Hannigan is fabulous, and it’s just so much damn fun while at the same time providing quite a bit of insight into our characters! 🙂
    Willow’s shocked reaction at her Vamp self… “I think I’m a bit gay”, the other’s shock at the possibility that Willow is dead and “vampified”… all the reactions when they realise she isn’t… wonderful! 🙂

  11. diane

    As one of those who asked for this Doppelgangland review, thank you thank you thank you! Much grass! Mercy buckets! Great analysis, Myles. Sounds like you had a lot of fun watching this, and you really caught all the elements that make it such a wonderful episode of BtVS. There are a few more episodes where Joss manages to toss everything into the air and pull it all together into a massive suprise, and every one of them is different. “Restless” is the next one, and perhaps the best.

    Regarding Cordelia and Faith, I recommend patience. Both have long arcs ahead of them, although with discontinuities. Joss does not rush character development or closures.

  12. Yes, thank you thank you for reviewing this ep! Above all it is just so much FUN!

    Angel’s “Well, actually–” comment, on whether vampires retain any of their previous personality traits, is a really interesting moment to me. In season one (and a lot of season two), the mythology is clear — you’re dead, a demon moves into your body, and it walks and talks and looks like you, but it’s not. (With the exception of Angel and his soul).

    The show becomes far too complex to keep relying on such a simplistic idea and it keeps getting eroded — for example, Spike and Dru’s sincere love for each other*, and Angel’s comment here. (I have lots more examples, but they’re all spoilery — for the other commenters, I’m particularly thinking of a blonde vamp in season four….). By the time you get to the end of “Angel,” Buffy’s comment that a vampire’s personality has nothing to do with who they were before is just laughable.

    *Query: Does Dru sincerely love Spike?

    • jbucksnb

      I don’t think that Dru necessarily loves Spike, but that’s not to negate your comment.

      The Watcher’s Council fed the line that vampires aren’t even the same person after they’ve been changed, but I don’t believe that (the blond vamp, the one in season seven). However, vampires don’t have the ability to LOVE, they are, just like Spike and Dru, in a kind of obsession with each other. It’s not exactly love in the way humans understand it, but it is like vampires do.

      Which is why Spike’s flashback episodes (Fool For Love, Crush, Lies My Parents Told Me) are so important, because they prove that he’s different, as his obsessions drive him so much like we saw in Lover’s Walk.

      • Eldritch

        Obsession seems a good way to describe it. If love is caring for your partner more than yourself, then I never felt Drucilla truly loved Spike. She had too much fun tormenting Spike with the attentions of Angelus. Not to mention, she dumped Spike because he wasn’t cruel enough for her taste. Not a hallmark of love in my book. Then she hooked up with a chaos demon pretty quickly. That doesn’t speak well to the personal devotion you’d think one lover would have for another.

        • K, but what about Spike’s love for — um — k, no spoilers — but the person Spike is in love with for the last couple seasons of Buffy — is that real love, or just obsession?

          • Eldritch

            Considering the problem of getting into spoilers, why don’t we come back to this in those seasons?

            If we go into it now, there won’t be anything to discuss then. k? 😉

          • Tausif Khan

            I think the mythology on vampires in Buffy is a little more loose than the mythology of vampires established in Angel. Here in Buffy the Slayer myth is the focus. Some of the questions being brought up here are answered in Angel.

      • Eric

        *Query: Does Dru sincerely love Spike?

        Depends on how you define “love”, doesn’t it?

        > vampires don’t have the ability to LOVE,

        Why not? I know this is a claim made by a certain vamp in the Angel series, but Spike had already disproved that contention by that point.

        > they are, just like Spike and Dru, in a kind
        > of obsession with each other. It’s not exactly > love in the way humans understand it, but it > is like vampires do.

        Love is a kind of obsession, don’t you think? Does the demonic aspect make it more twisted and violent? Sure, but not all human love is healthy, either.

        > Which is why Spike’s flashback episodes are > so important, because they prove that he’s
        > different, as his obsessions drive him

        Spike is a vampire. Spike is capable of love. Therefore, vampires are capable of love. QED

  13. Jessica

    I can’t recall whether you decided whether you were going to watch Angel episodes alongside Buffy once season three concludes, but if you are as into Cordelia as you’ve stated, than you really should. I feel like Cordelia’s short shrift in the latter half of season three is one of a few reasons that she was selected to spin-off with Angel. Given the small cast that the show starts out with, she’s has many moments to shine (as well as continue to grow) and I think you’ll greatly appreciate.

    • Gill

      I suspect that the advance work on S1 of Angel may well account for her limited role at this point of S3. Logistically and emotionally it’s important to separate her a bit from the rest of the Scoobies around now.

      • Becker

        Filming for S1 of Angel didn’t take place until June, which was well after Buffy S3 wrapped. Only the 7ish minute presentation reel was shot during the Buffy season and that was done in one weekend. So whatever changes in her screen-time was a writing choice and not an availability choice.

  14. Eric

    “I noticed that Angel had a different answer to Buffy’s open question about whether or not vampires draw any of their personality traits from the human they once were from the one he gives, a change he makes to keep Willow from being even more weirded out by it all. ”

    Willow: It’s horrible! That’s me as a vampire? I’m so evil and… skanky. And I think I’m kinda gay.
    Buffy: Willow, just remember, a vampire’s personality has nothing to do with the person it was.
    Angel: Well, actually… That’s a good point.

    This is, I think, a significant moment in the show’s mythology. Here Buffy is parroting the Watcher’s Council Party Line from Season One (Jesse), and Angel lets us know, that things aren’t as simple as the WC would like their Slayer to believe. We have already seen ample evidence of this, (Angel, Spike, Drusilla, Ford, Dalton, The Gorch Brothers, and Mr. Trick), but it is nice to have it confirmed by a series regular.

    • Eldritch

      The impression I got from that exchange was that Buffy was only speaking to make Willow feel better, not that she was parroting the Council’s party line or that she believed it herself. She was Willow’s best friend, and she wanted to protect her feelings. Like most guys, Angel began to blurt out the truth, then belatedly realized what Buffy was trying to do and modified his speech accordingly.

      • Eric

        That’s certainly possible, but there is a significant subset of Buffy fandom (the “S2 was the best, everything after S3 was horrible, and just got worse and worse”, crowd) that likes and chooses to believe the simplistic WC line. Personally, I’ve always viewed it as propaganda/indoctrination to keep the Slayer from having second thoughts about dusting the vampires.

        • Eldritch

          I guess I’m not part of that subset. I feel over the course of the entire series, story lines changed to match Buffy’s (and the Scoobies) maturing into adulthood and dealing with more adult-like issues.

          However, at issue, when did Buffy ever parrot anything authority figures, particularly the Watcher’s Council, spouted.

          I don’t see that the exact meaning of what Buffy said here is all that important to the series. However, it makes sense to me that she was trying more to be comforting. Otherwise, what she says seems to contradict what we’re told about vampires elsewhere in the series, including Angel’s faux pas and recovery here.

          (Are we debating how many angels can dance on the head of pin yet?)

          • Eric

            > over the course of the entire series,
            > story lines changed to match Buffy’s > maturing into adulthood

            Indeed, I agree with you, but that begs the question, when Giles claimed that VampJesse had none of Jesse’s personality, was he lying, or saying what he believed to be the truth even though it was actually inaccurate, or was he telling the truth as it existed in the series at the time, and only later (post-Spike) did it become false? Since it is better for series continuity, I prefer to think he was lying, or repeating the WC line which he believed, but which was actually inaccurate.

            > when did Buffy ever parrot anything > authority figures spouted.

            We all reflect our upbringing. Buffy reacted differently to Faith killing the Deputy Mayor than Faith did because at heart she is not a “bad girl”. Buffy has a rebellious side, but she is not a rebel, she is a hero. At the deepest levels she accepts that she is the Slayer, and that it is her destiny to kill vampires. She also generally believes what Giles tells her, even after “Helpless”.

            > I don’t see that the exact meaning of
            > what Buffy said here is all that
            > important to the series. However, it
            > makes sense to me that she was
            > trying more to be comforting.

            Everyone, including Buffy, accepted what Giles said in Hellmouth/Harvest. Does Buffy still believe it here when she repeats it to Willow? I agree that is not important, and that her motivation was to comfort Willow, but Angel’s “clueless guy almost telling the painful truth” moment is important, because it establishes the fact that vampires do share at least part of their human host’s personality, and they’re not just soulless, evil demons, even if they are still the enemy. That newly established fact will have resonance down the line.

          • Eldritch

            “..Indeed, I agree with you, but that begs the question, when Giles claimed that VampJesse had none of Jesse’s personality, was he lying…”

            I don’t seem to remember that conversation as well as you. I wish I could quickly go back to that pilot to view it. Since you’re probably quoting that episode correctly, I might be more prone to assume the writers hadn’t developed their view of vampirism as fully as they apparently did in later episodes.

            I’m as guilty as the next fanboy wanting to take an entire series as a coherent, consistent whole. Sadly, the truth is that writers’ concepts of their characters and mythologies can change, evolve, and even improve as as series runs. When retconning doesn’t work, that leaves inconsistencies among episodes.

            One striking example to me is Angel’s curse. It’s really a stupid curse which allows for it’s own cancellation. The Gypsies should have just returned his soul. The one perfect moment of happiness feature makes no sense, unless you imagine the writers staining for a way to turn Angel into Angelus in a cool way for the show. Jenny’s uncle’s tortured explanation about vengeance being a living thing really never made any sense to me.

            It seems an odd view to me now that the demons who replace human souls have no personalities of their own. Every other demon (other than the red-shirted demons) seems to have some kind of personality. But I think personalit-less demons pretty much the official view of the series as it developed. It strikes me as the writers’ retrospectively straining to create an interesting mythology. It makes the vampires more interesting.

            Which is okay by me, suspension of disbelief being what it is. I love the show, so I’m willing to overlook a few misjointed details here and there.

        • Becker

          I’m not sure what you are getting at here. You may need to refine this as myself and a lot of people I know are in the “the “S2 was the best, everything after S3 was horrible, and just got worse and worse”, crowd” but have no problem with the WC’s statements being too black and white. I think it went downhill because the writing went downhill. I’d be more specific, but that would involve spoilers and possible strong laxatives…. 😉 The vast majority of the people I know who prefer the later seasons are the people who started watching in the later seasons. I think that says a lot more about the quality of writing that one group choosing to stay and a B&W mentality on vampires.

          • I think we should stay away from putting people in categories. It’s a bold statement to assume that a person will only like the later seasons if they started later. It’s also bold to claim (I think, very wrongly) that the later seasons suffered in quality, when many many many people (and intelligent people, too) believe differently. I watched the whole thing from beginning to end, and I think it’s wonderful throughout.

            If you don’t like the later seasons, fine. You are totally free to your own opinion. But please don’t make statements that make the rest of us feel that our opinions are worthless.

          • Eric

            “I’m not sure what you are getting at here. You may need to refine this as myself and a lot of people I know are in the “the “S2 was the best, everything after S3 was horrible, and just got worse and worse”, crowd” but have no problem with the WC’s statements being too black and white.”

            Okay a significant subset of the subset who think the first 3 seasons are the best like the black and white nature of the portrayal of good vs. evil. 😉 Personally, I love the entire series, and feel there are outstanding episodes and clunkers in each season.

          • Jack_Kay

            Well Becker, I think what Eric is “trying to get at here” is exactly what you stated yourself.
            That people who believe that everything after season 3 was going downhill seem to find pleasure in the simplistic statement of Vampire = bad, Human = good, (and no Grey blurs in between) as expressed by the WC.
            Yet people who enjoy the later, more mature and depthy seasons (as I do, and as a fan who watched from the very beginning and enjoyed each season more than the last as it aired, and then in retrospect believe S5 to be the ultimate best, especially in terms of long-term storytelling, am happy to disprove your opinion that anyone who watched from the beginning could not feel this way) are much more willing to invest in diverse characters who are subject-to-change depending on the situations around them and not depending on what/who they are.

          • Becker

            This won’t let me reply to each of you as there are no further reply things.

            Ashley, I just re-read my post and I said that most of the people I know felt this way, if I don’t know you (or do, but you aren’t part of the most of section) then it wouldn’t apply to you. So I’m not lumping you into a group. I’m replying to being lumped into a group I don’t most of the people I know fitting into. Also, I did say that I felt the writing went down hill. I used I there. And I could give reasons to back them up, but can’t due to not wanting to put up spoilers.

            Eric, my point was that I actually know a surprisingly large amount of Buffy fans who feel the show went down hill and the majority of them did not fit that at all. But without us getting into math, I’ll accept this refined statement.

            Jack_Kay, that is the opposite of what I was saying. I was saying that the majority of the people I know that thought the show went down hill do not feel that way at all. (Note also, again, the fact that I did not say everyone feels this way) It had nothing to do with black and white and had to do with various writing issues that had nothing to do with B&W depictions of people. And I feel, personally, that the show, particularly in S6 was not more mature nor deeper in any way. Again, I’d love to get into specifics, but thar be spoilers there. I never said that anyone could not feel differently and in saying most of the people I know, hat leaves out anyone I don’t some and some of the people I do know. But none of that is why I or many people I know do not like the later seasons at much as the earlier ones, which was my initial issue.

      • Tausif Khan

        It is establishing a myth about Vampires but it also says something about Willow who isn’t one in this universe.

        Which means that Spike and Drusilla also retain part of their human personalities.

        It is interesting though (as Myles starts to allude to) that while Liam is a waste of life Angel starts to become a superhero in his own right. It is interesting to contemplate whether Liam would be capable of this without being Angel. One of the things I get from the series is that vampires are sometimes cooler versions of the dead human.

        • Eldritch

          After a century of being his own black plague of terror and death across Europe, Angel wasted a hundred years wallowing his guilt, eating rats and living as a homeless man. Over some of that time, he was “good” only to the degree that he limited his murdering and and drinking of human blood to criminals, or shall we admit, people he thought were probably criminals.

          He’s only been a superhero over the last 3 years.

          It’s great that he’s a superhero now and will continue to be so motivated for the mere 5 more years of his own series, but he was slow to rise to this noble purpose and is right to feel he has much more to make up for. Especially, in light of his super strength and near invulnerability.

          To my mind, this waste of living death fits as the extension of the wastrel Liam was.

          • Eldritch

            Ugh. Now I’m kind of embarrassed. I’d never thought that before. It kind of gives me the shivers that that came out of me just now. 😦

          • Becker

            This might be a spoilery question, but I don’t recall this ever being established: “he limited his murdering and and drinking of human blood to criminals, or shall we admit, people he thought were probably criminals.” I thought it was just animal blood.

          • Eldritch

            “I thought it was just animal blood.”

            I’m pretty sure I remember that being stated somewhere. I forget which episode. It was step one in his “drying out” after being cursed. Later, he limited himself to just animals. I hope this wasn’t a spoilery reveal. Considering how unrepentently sadistic he’d been, it seems like a reasonable first step.

          • Becker

            If it happened during the later half of S4 of Angel, then yeah, I would have no clue about it as I just had to stop watching then. But I don’t recall that from any other time. I do admit I don’t have he best memory, but it just doesn’t ring a bell at all, which is rare for the Buffyverse.

          • Tausif Khan

            All of the stuff that Eldritch references I believe is established in becoming.

            My question was more so if Liam had never become Angel could he have become a great living being or did he need his super being status to realize his special place in the world. Same goes for William/Spike.

          • Susan

            So unfair that Myles finally posted again at the beginning of a holiday weekend in the states! Of course, though, the attention to Lost was well deserved–and fruitful–this past week. But my time for this great discussion is sorely limited this weekend, alas.

            I loved reading your response to Doppelgangland, a true ‘verse classic. Your reviews make Buffy come alive for me in a new way, Myles. That’s saying something, since I’m pretty damn immersed. But I’m responding to Eldritch here:

            “To my mind, this waste of living death fits as the extension of the wastrel Liam was.”

            I see your point, and I think I mainly agree with it. But maybe I’m a sucker for the bad boys, because I don’t see Liam as even all that much of a wastrel–or, better (because, obviously, he *was* a wastrel), I don’t see that as a condemnation of him as a human being.

            He was a young man (more or less; my math puts him at 26, which is kinda long-in-the-toothy in the mid-eighteenth century, but anyway), he was from an affluent family, his sought and could not find his father’s approval, so he went out of his way in the other direction.

            Anyone read Henry IV, Part I? (Okay, maybe that’s a stretch, but I’m going with it.)

            Anyway, soft spot for bad boys. I do like the idea that Angel’s 100-year suffering is a kind of waste of death in the ways Liam wasted his life, and that gets to his main weakness, as a man and as an ensouled vampire: self-doubt, leading to a kind of moral inertia.

            Without a catalyst (like Buffy and her mission), Angel doesn’t really think he is strong enough to *do* anything–or, at least, he has little conviction that what he can do matters. We’ll see him continue to struggle with this in AtS, especially in the first couple of seasons.

            I think that’s why Liam behaved as he did, and why he was so vulnerable to Darla. Not because he was morally compromised, but because he didn’t believe he could be better.

          • Eldritch

            “My question was more so if Liam had never become Angel could he have become a great living being or did he need his super being status to realize his special place in the world.”

            Liam came from a rich family. A lot of young rich wastrels do well in their later years. (I’m not really comfortable with this example, but..) George W. Bush was known to be little more than a party boy in his youth, which led to a string of failures in the business world. Yet he was able to successfully become President. (I’m arguing he became wildly successful. I don’t want to get into whether he was a great president.)

            If we accept the Buffy writers’ view that a vampire’s personality is just the original personality less his human soul, then Liam had the potential for some kind of greatness.

            Earlier, I tried to make the point that Angel’s greatness came very late, which seems compatible with Liam’s being at best a late bloomer.

            However, whatever potential Liam had, I don’t believe he could have achieved Angel’s hero status because he lacked the superhuman strength and invulnerability. Perhaps he could have become a good man or even a famous vampire killer, such as Holtz, but without the superpowers of Angelus or a slayer, he was limited.

            Similarly, for Spike …. Well, without getting spoilery, Bloody William must had a kernel of potential within him, too. But short of having superpowers ….

          • Eldritch

            “…because I don’t see Liam as even all that much of a wastrel–or, better (because, obviously, he *was* a wastrel), I don’t see that as a condemnation of him as a human being.”

            I’m not condemning him as a human being. It can be a struggle to establish your own identity when you stand in the dark shadow of a very powerful parent. It’s a common problem.

          • Susan

            “I’m not condemning him as a human being. It can be a struggle to establish your own identity when you stand in the dark shadow of a very powerful parent. It’s a common problem.”

            Yep. I agree. I just wanted to give Liam got little slack, and examining your “wastrel” comment seemed a likely way to do that. 🙂

          • Anne

            I’m actually replying to your earlier post (where there was no reply prompt) about Angel’s curse. Once Angel knows about it, the curse is perfect. Having his soul returned to him has made Angel feel enormous guilt over his past deeds as Angelus. However, even enormously guilty people (vampires) can begin to let go of the guilt just long enough to experience a bit of happiness which leads to even more happiness. The gypsies wanted it so that Angel could never have even a moment of true happiness. Had they simply returned his soul, eventually he would have found happiness despite his guilt. Knowing he will lose his soul and revert to Angelus means Angel will always choose to be less than truly happy.

            The problem is those otherwise very clever gypsies didn’t see the fatal flaw–that without making Angel aware of the second part of the curse, he would experience happiness and revert to Angelus. I think it would have made more sense for Jenny Calendar to simply have told Angel about the next part of the curse so he would have chosen to leave Buffy and stuck to the choice rather than scheming to keep them apart as she did.

            But people do act in ways that are less than logical, and yes, writers do strain to find a cool way to turn Angel into Angelus and to set up the series to come. To some extent, suspension of disbelief is always required, no matter how great a show is.

          • Gill

            Jumping in here because I can’t reply to a comment of yours above. Do you know the wonderful Internet Buffyverse Dialogue Database? http://vrya.net/bdb/ep.php It’s an excellent resource for reminding oneself who said what or finding the perfect line to quote or subvert. So, Jesse on the difference between life and unlife:

            XANDER: Jesse, man. We’re buds, don’t you remember?

            JESSE: You’re like a shadow to me now.

            An interesting way of looking at the change – a loss of connection with humanity?

            And Giles’s exact words about Jesse:
            XANDER: We’ve gotta get in there before Jesse does something stupider that usual.

            GILES: You listen to me! Jesse is dead! You have to remember that when you see him, you’re not looking at your friend. You’re looking at the thing that killed him.

            I think Giles believes that at this point, but I don’t think it’s true, even then.

          • Eldritch

            “GILES: You listen to me! Jesse is dead! You have to remember that when you see him, you’re not looking at your friend. You’re looking at the thing that killed him.

            I think Giles believes that at this point, but I don’t think it’s true, even then.”

            Well, in the example of Liam/Angelus, Darla killed Liam. The demon which killed him didn’t occupy two bodies at once, so Angelus’ demon must be a different one than the one which occupies Darla. So the demon in Angelus didn’t kill Angelus. Likewise, the demon in Jesse wasn’t the one which killed Jesse. The demon within vamp Jesse just replaced Jesse or perhaps better said, Jesse’s soul.

            However, Xander was upset and about to rush out to do something stupid, so Giles can be forgiven for oversimplifying the situation in the moment to save his life. If you want to call that a lie, then at least call it a white lie.

            The series never went into the mechanics of where these demons came from. You sort of have to imagine a warehouse full of bland demons waiting to be called up. I suppose it doesn’t make any difference. It all happens by magic somehow.

            Perhaps these demons actually have personalities, but for some reason suppress them completely once inside a vampire.

            I sort of imagine the demon just replacing the soul and that the soul is the sole source of kindness and morality. Without it, a personality is free to express itself in purely selfish and sociopathic ways. This requires assuming a person’s soul has no personality of its own. I think that works for the show, but in real life, most people would be offended by that. But then in real life there are no vampires.

        • Aeryl

          I think this is absolutely spot on.

          Look at another vampire that where we know a little about her human life, Drusilla. She obviously brought the psychosis Angelus nurtured within her, into her vampire life.

          I don’t think their personalities are born full fledged the moment they become vampires, IMHO it takes decades to mature(probably why the Annoying One is as flat as a pancake). I think the series makes obvious that their personalities are drawn directly from their needs, and that they are creatures ruled by their ids.

          So Angel’s behavior after being ensouled is very reminiscent of Liam’s, only the guilt drove him from being able to enjoy his wastrel existence, with clubbing and seducing.

          • Bluedove

            I thought that vampires were human personalities warped by a demonic nature instead of being paired with their soul, as humans were supposed to be.

            I also remember something in season one about one pure demon infecting humans, although I could be wrong. Maybe there isn’t one demon per vampire. Maybe it’s one demon in each vampire, one Old One or something, and this was it’s way of remaining on Earth and possibly even coming back in its old form eventually, hence the reference to the old ones in the pilot episodes.

    • Gill

      Not to mention that the way Jesse talks to Xander just before he is dusted shows that he is pretty much the same guy but without the conscience and inhibitions.

      The Watchers have to persuade themselves and their slayers otherwise, though, or they become way too tangled in dark issues. And most vampires do seem to have lost most defining characteristics, perhaps because the only thing that made them respectable or interesting in life was their inhibitions? We’ll see other examples of people not changing so much later. (And others of vampires reinventing themselves totally and deliberately. Spoilers forbid my saying more.)

  15. diane

    Myles doesn’t explicitly call out the “evil twin” trope, but it’s worth a mention because it does recur ocaissionally. Along with evil twins, there is also the idea of “character mirroring”. Buffy has her mirror characters: Kendra, Faith, Wish-Buffy, and to some extent, Cordelia. Cordelia and Harmony. Angel and Spike. Xander and Oz. Giles and Wesley. Once you start looking for them, these mirrors and alter-egos are everywhere, and this will continue through both series.

    To quote Bakhtin in his analysis of Dostevsky’s characters, ““. . . there are also no separate thoughts or positions. They never argue over separate points, but always over whole points of view, inserting themselves and their entire idea into even the briefest exchange.” (Problems of Dostoevsky’s Poetics, Mikhail Bakhtin, 1984, pg. 98). On the whole, I’ve found Bakhtin to be a fascinating lens for looking at the Buffyverse characters and themes.

  16. buffywrestling

    It should be noted that Wesley’s “arc” doesn’t come to any sort of satifiying conculsion on Buffy, but rather on Angel. Ditto with Cordy.

  17. Tausif Khan

    That said, I thought this was a nice first step for her and Wesley, should the show be heading in that direction.

    haha. You haven’t finished the season or watched Angel.

  18. Eldritch

    Myles,

    I realize you’ve already gotten way plenty of advice on how to watch Buffy and Angel. Including a little from me. But after a bit more thought, I’d like to contradict my earlier self.

    This incredibly selfish, I know, but my earlier advice was based on your optimum enjoyment of the series. Now I find myself thinking how I would best enjoy reading your analyses. From that point of view, I’d prefer your completing Buffy before going on to Angel. Better flow, I think.

    Disregard at your pleasure. 😉

  19. Eldritch

    “…it seems unfair that Cordelia’s attempt to have an honest conversation with a caged Willow about her breakup with Xander both happens mainly offscreen and ends up being false closure.”

    I didn’t feel that Cordelia intended it to be an “honest” conversation. Cordelia seemed more interested in reading the riot act to a Willow who couldn’t escape. There’s really little in Cordelia’s history to suggest she ‘s ever been interested in anything other than downward communication.

  20. Gill

    I love the way your choice of words shows how the show has sucked you in to see its brilliance. “Thrilled” is not a neutral term, but wholly appropriate. You are recognising the darkness under the humour, the lightness of the handling of dark themes and the sheer complexity that makes me revisit this show again and again. You haven’t even reached the vast majority of my favourite episodes, either. Though Willow’s little wave to Oz in The Bronze has to count as a favourite moment

    I am really looking forward to your take on the last few episodes of S3.

  21. diane

    Also looking forward to your take on seasons 4, 5, 6, and 7, where many excellent episodes await. Don’t let the fan flame wars distract you too much.

  22. Celia

    Good grief! I had to rewatch “Dopplegangland” at 2 in the morning last night, just because this blog made me want to see it again. For the bazillionth time!

    Myles: I’ll just echo what everyone else is saying and tell you that you are an excellent writer, and your analysis is giving me a fresh perspective on the series I love so dearly.

    I’d been following Noel Murray’s blog at the AV Club, but he’s been too busy to continue his blogs on “Buffy”, so it was such a delight to find your site. There’s little I like better than a smart, well-informed analysis of a work of art, so know that your insights and skills as a writer are being greatly appreciated.

  23. “Vampire Willow…struggling to return home to where she’s comfortable only to die just as she did in “The Wish”…”

    Just as? On the contrary. Go back and compare her mouth as she gets dusted. Such a teeny difference, but for me it’s the icing on the cake!

  24. Austin

    Two things: First, the music. I actually thought the music from The Wish is actually some of the most powerful in the show, right next to the scores for The Gift and Becoming.

    Second, Cordelia. While she does get some more attention in this Season, you really have to wait till she goes over to Angel to really see her develop. While I would not say that her arc is anywhere near as epic as Wesley’s since she doesn’t change the core of who she is, I really enjoy watching her develop. And I laugh out loud every time she insults Angel, it is just so funny.

    • Not to quibble — well, okay, I’m quibbling here, but I mean it only in the most enjoyable, fan-obsessed way.

      I agree that Cordelia’s arc is not as epic as Wesley’s. But I wouldn’t say that Wes’s arc changes the core of who he is. I think the solid throughline of Wes is that he’s the one who ALWAYS puts the greater good first, without regard for feelings. Not that he doesn’t care — sometimes, it tears him apart that he has to take a particular course of action. This goes all the way back to when Faith kidnaps Willow at the end of Buffy S3, and Wes is the one saying that saving Willow isn’t a priority compared with stopping the Mayor. What makes the arc so amazing is how that one rock-solid priority takes him to so many unexpected places.

      (Granted, I’m not sure the Willow decision tore him up all that much. But you get my point.) (And I’m not saying Buffy was wrong to go rescue Willow… that’s part of what makes her the hero, is how she handles that balancing act.) (And I know this is ludicrous overkill, it’s just that Wes is my favorite character in the entire Buffyverse 🙂 )

  25. Bob Kat

    Good catches on 2 things I’d never considered. I’d seen this as basically just a continuation of Faith’s relationship with the Mayor, not showing any new wrinkles. Likewise, I didn’t see the spell as being anythign except a retrieval, I didn’t imagine it would do anything *to* “Our” Willow.

    Both Willows’ scoffing, so they agree, indicates to me the problem between willow and Anya isn’t good versus evil. Remember that point.

    Quibbles; Giles said Willow was “the best of us all,” seeming to mean she was the best human being, not the most important. And, as pointed out above, Angel didn’t change his story except at Buffy’s urging.
    Yes, and the difference wasn’t just inw hat VampWil said as she was beign dusted, but also the absence of Larry.

    Which brings up again the nature of the vampiric self. And notice *Giles* doesn’t say anything aBout the vamp not getting part of the personality. He and Angel agree that waht the vamp doesn’t get is the “soul.” The Buffyverse seems to 1-use “soul” ina traditional wEstern-religious preconcpetion as the “real” person 2-but also takes modern science seriously so accepts that “personality” arises from various biological causes. So the vmapire is still *not* the person and a *full* enemy but still can bear soem resembalnces to the old livign human.
    What parts of the personality carry over into the vampire obviosuly varies. The Gortches, Zach Kralik, and (in a dramaitcally different sense) another one we’ll see later. seem to bring over their cosncious selves, in Jungian terms their Persona. But soem others, VampWillow especially, seem to draw on the person’s (in Jungian terms) Shadow, while others like Darla and Liam/Angel are even less obvious.
    My theory is that okay, those demons we see in their own normal bodies are demonic people and/or animals. The vamp demon (pure fanwanking here) is a demonic germ which *infects* an almost-dead body and so develops its personality from that.
    As to the curse’s escape clause I guess it means that the curse is *broekn* by true happiness.
    And Angel apaprently reinvented himself everyd ecade or so between the curse and meeting Buffy

    • Becker

      It would have been quite expensive to hire Larry for five seconds. 😉

      As far as the vampire is considered, I always thought that the demon used more or less of the personality, or exerted more or less of it’s own based upon its own strengths in that department, or of course, the writing needs of the particular episode. USS Buffyprise Syndrome, which rears its ugly head from time to time throughout the series. As fans I think we often tend to way over-think things, particularly late in the season when they are rushing to finish the scripts in time to film them.

  26. Bob Kat

    Watched the first part last night: I didn’t notice anything about Xander and Buffy asking Willow to blow off a test.

    As to Faith and the Mayor, here is definitely where we start to see *his* real feelings for her, and the type of relationship he’s seeking with her.

    Becker: well, yes, suiting the writing needs of the episode is always paramount. Thing is, soem of these open problems beg to eb filled in, and a little over-thinkign isn’t wrong. Actually, trying to take every word of dialogue literally is where the problems come in. The classic case beign “The Wish” where Giles said smashign the pwoer center reverses *all* the wishes. Sure, the word “all” adds nice drama to the statement, but even if we never saw Anya again, a little thoguht indicates that it’s facially ridiculous; it would invlove people dead for thousands of eyars showign up alive, etc., if it were literal. This was a problem in some of the articles in the old Conan fanzine _Amra_. They took Howard’s words literally, even when they referred to something like economics and made no sense whatever.

    • Becker

      Well, the alternative to over-thinking isn’t literalism, that’s the opposite. Although it can be argued that when Giles says that, that only means all wishes that are still in effect. As you said, those people would be long dead, the spells therefore over. You can only break something that still exists. The Wishverse was an active spell. But even if other spells did revert, they weren’t all going to just show up in Sunnydale. So there would be no way to know about those one way or the other.

      My own over-thinking led me to original only half like “Anne” in thinking that all of the layers of details had import on the season, when pretty much none did. So when I went back to rewatch, I was left with just the main story in which I was beaten over the head with DESPAIR and ended up liking it even less. My better examples haven’t happened yet, so I can’t get into them.

  27. Morda

    Loved the review Myles. Doppelgangland is truly one of the comedic gems of Whedon’s work. I’m glad that you hit all of the main points of the episode…Except for one. At least, one that means a fair bit to me as a Willow adorer.

    Since I am (figuratively) the only Buffy fan I can talk to about the series I have no idea if anyone else cares for this moment, but don’t you all love the scene where Joss pans around the Bronze really quickly and has Willow sock Anya right in the face. It always puts a damn big smile on my face whenever I watch it. That’s not to say I’m an Anya hater (Because, believe me, I’m not) but I’m just a serious Willow lover.

    Anyway, I was just a bit surprised you didn’t bring it up. It’s a big, visual part of the episode – For me at least.

    Just a small thing though. In the end I guess it’s not that important.

    • Becker

      A friend of mine came up with a term for that: Willow the Whacker, first seen with a fire extinguisher in I Robot, You Jane. Usually meek and mild, but push her hard enough and she’ll lash out. 😉

  28. Surgoshan

    One of the best gags the show ever did was Xander confronting Willow with the cross, being confused when it doesn’t work, then *shaking it* and trying again.

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