Written by Joss Whedon
Directed by Joss Whedon

Perri's Review | SunSpeak

Perri's Review

Wow. A wonderful feast created and baked to perfection by Joss, yet without the lovely 'go commit suicide' aftertaste. Cool! Guess he just couldn't resist playing with someone else's toys.

We open with a goat-faced man being superior at Anyanka, the wish-granting demon who almost managed to turn Sunnydale into Sunnyhell for real, until alter-Giles stopped her in 'The Wish'. As a result, she's been deprived of her powers and trapped as a mortal 17-year-old, and GoatMan, apparently her manager (well, the horns look sorta like the pointy hair, anyway) is remarkably unsympathetic. When he refuses to help the desperate, bored and math-flunking Anya get her power center back, she stalks off vowing to find someone who will help. Typical melodramatic teenager.

Cut to Willow, working out her magical powers on a levitating pencil while Buffy works out in a more physical way. Wesley is evaluating both Buffy and Faith and competition is hitting Buffy hard, and Willow still has some serious issues about the other Slayer. And Snyder has some issues for her -- Percy, a champion basketball star, is flunking due to lack of interest and excessive ego, and Snyder appoints Willow to tutor him. She agrees under heavy coercion and complains about it to Buffy all the way to the library, where Faith strolls in and Wesley staggers in after the obstacle course. As Buffy heads out for her turn, Willow tries to break into the Mayor's personal files, with an interested Faith looking on.

Interested enough to instantly run to tell the mayor about it. Faith's attention splits more to the swanky and well-furnished apartment the mayor has set up for her, but the mayor is more focused on removing the threat Willow has suddenly become. At school the newly-death-marked hacker greets Oz, back from a gig in Monterey to which Willow was not invited,since Oz didn't think she'd want to miss school. Percy adds another sting to a bad day by informing her what he thinks of her job as tutor -- "she who does all of my work for me". Xander and Buffy add the death blow to Willow's bad, too-responsible day by calling her Old Reliable when she remembered to tape a show they needed to see. It's enough to make Willow finally lose her temper; she stalks off as well as she can, determined to change things.

Unfortunately, the first person to offer her opportunity is -- you guessed it -- Anyanka, who asks Willow's help with a spell, which she jumps at as a switch from homework. Anya lies that she wants to get back an heirloom necklace. They set up the spell to cal on a god, then pour sacred sand over a drawing of the necklace to bring the real one to their world. The pair cast the spell, but, halfway through, Willow realizes something is horribly wrong, as visions of the mirror world flash through her mind. She jerks and the sand is spilled, not on the drawing, but on Willow's hand. Anya wants to try it again, but Willow tells her to go to hell and exits stage left.

As, in a warehouse across town, vampWillow falls to the floor where there was a fight a second ago. Leathergirl looks around the suddenly empty room and comes to the conclusion that "this is weird." Disoriented and as afraid as a vampire gets, she begins to wander the crowded streets of Sunnydale -- crowded with humans instead of the vampires she remembers. She naturally heads for the most familiar place she can think of -- the Bronze. The Goth look draws more than a little attention -- most noticably from Percy the Jock, who makes the mistake of trying to grab her to make her leave to do his homework. She declares herself "Bored now," and immediately throws him across a pool table, then grabs him by the throat. Xander, seeing only Willow being menaced by a big guy, 'rescues' her; vampWillow is thrilled to see a familiar face, and bummed to discover he's alive. Buffy arrives and tries to cover her shock at 'Willow's' new look. VampWillow starts to leave and, when Bufyf tries to stop her, turns a vamp face on them. Stunned and shocked, Buffy and Xander watch her leave...

But aren't there when the gang of vampires attacks her outside, thinking she's Willow. She handily disposes of the lot and finds out the mayor hired them to attack her double; then she 'convinces' them to work for her instead. Seems she needs help giving the world a makeover.

Dazed, Buffy and Xander make their way to the library, to break the news of Willow's death to a stunned Giles. Grieving, the three try to come to grips with their loss -- and almost die of renewed shock when Willow -- very much alive, walks into the library. Xander brandishes a cross, which doesn't work, then he and Buffy both pouncehug the confused girl. They release her -- and Giles grabs her in turn, before the three attempt incoherent explanations.

Depressed and annoyed, Anya collapses at the Bronze as Dingos set up on the stage; Oz is distracted by Angel's arrival, looking for Buffy. They're both in the corner when vampWillow's squad hits the doors and takes the place over. Angel and Oz discuss the odds with excessive calm until vampWillow arrives -- at which point both of them freak simultaneously and Angel heads out for Buffy. VampWillow begins trolling for victims (translation: she's licking people again) and Oz is helpless to stop her. VampWillow is confused (not an uncommon state of affairs for her), and Anya steps in to explain things to the universe-crossed vampire -- the two form an alliance.

Explanations are still in progress when Angel arrives at the library; the Slayerettes are treated to the unique sight of Angel freaking and stuttering, trying to tell them Willow is dead, before he notices Willow in the corner. Confused as all hell, Angel still manages to convey the idea of trouble at the Bronze and everyone heads out, only Willow staying behind to look for something.

Something finds her instead -- vampWillow shows up to find her better half. VampWillow's first reference to Anya explains a lot to Willow about her appearance; GothGirl tries to persuade Willow to make a team of them, seriously invading Willow's personal space. Willow tries to escape and vampWillow throws her over the library coutner -- right next to Oz's tranq gun, which Willow makes good use of. A few minutes later, the Slayerettes cluster around the now-caged and unconcious vampWillow, and Buffy comes up with a really bad idea for dealing with the vamps at the Bronze.

You guessed it; the gang heads to the Bronze with Willow, now dressed in vampWillow's leather outfit. She heads in to distract the vampires while the others get into position. Unfortunately, Willow is long on courage, but short on insanity -- her masquerade lacks a certain credibility, altought she manages to send a few vamps out into Angel and Buffy's clutches. Meanwhile, vampWillow wakes in the cage, and in WIllow's clothes, as a dressed-to-impress (Wesley, that is) Cordelia walks into the library on the hunt. Cordelia, clueless as always, starts to free her, then takes the opportunity for a little girl talk regarding other people's guys and the stealing thereof, boring vampWillow to undeath in the process. Cordy finally stops for breathe, vampWillow apologizes abjectly enough to get Cordy to release her -- then jumps for revenge from extreme boredom. Cordy runs for it, screaming all the way, and is rescued (sort of) by Wesley; Cordy is far more impressed than vampWillow, who leaves more out of boredom, and Wesley finds himself with an armload of grateful Cordelia. He's not struggling.

At the Bronze, Anya sees finally through Wilow's disguise and Head Thug Vamp believes Anya. But, on Willow's screamed signal, the point becomes moot as the cavalry, in the form of Angel and Buffy. Willow punches out Anya before Oz drags her to the safety of the stage -- and right into the enraged arms of vampWillow. The two Willows fight it out as the Battle for the Bronze rages around them. While the Slayerettes quickly get the upper hand, Willow is losing badly; vampWillow's hands are around her throat until Buffy arrives with a stake -- which Willow refuses to allow her to use. VampWillow finds herself surrounded, and a deal is reached.

At the warehouse where it all started, Anya, under protest, is helping Giles and Willow set up the spell to send vampWillow back to her own world, where she has a chance, Willow thinks. She bids her doppleganger farewell (and gets felt-up during the hug). Then the spell is cast and vampWillow finds herself back in her own world -- and without a qualm, Oz shoves her backwards onto a broken board.


Faced with her darkest side, Willow is determined to be Miss Responsible for the rest of her life -- until Percy arrives, scared into not only doing his own report on Roosevelt, but into doing one on both Roosevelts, just to be sure. The virtues of vice become apaprent, and Willow heads out for some fun.

Not much, although more than we got out of 'The Wish'. < g > Everyone is aware of Anya's existance now, and that of the alterworld.

Wesley seems to be loosening up -- Giles is still giving him grief, but they are working together relatively peacefully and Wsley actually makes a joke.

The mayor has installed Faith in much higher-class living accomodations; in return, she apparently sold out Willow.

Cordy's taste in men scares me. < g > She seems to be rather intent on chasing Wesley, who's not running nearly as fast as he should be.

This seems to be the season for "there but for the Grace of God..." Where Buffy saw her own dark side in Faith last week, Willow sees hers in her vampire self this week. It's a sobering sight for someone on the edge of rebellion, to see herself as a psycopath, but she comes through with surprising grace -- like Buffy, she is more interested in helping her darker reflection than simply disposing of it. She might also have gotten yet another, apparently badly needed, lesson in magical responsibility -- for once, she's the one telling Anya about not playing around with magic forces. It remains to be seem whether she'll finally have learned to follow her own advice. This is the second or third time her magic has swung around to bite her on the butt -- here's hoping she catches a clue this time (I got two words for you, Will -- Threefold Law. Learn it.).

VampWillow, on the other hand, is interesting. Alone in a weird place, she adapts with surprising speed, instantly trying to take over. She's more overtly ready-to-grab-anything-on-two-legs than in 'The Wish', which ups the creep factor of her overt sweetness even higher, and, far from being out of her league without vampXander or the Master to back her up, she becomes even more dangerous -- no brakes. In a fight between her and Drucilla, I've gotta go with vampWillow in the fourth -- she's far more self-sufficient, has a slightly better grasp on reality (I said slightly!), and you have to love her hiring techniques. Another amazing performance from Alyson, playing both sides of Willow beautifully.

It's Willow's show from beginning to end -- everyone else pretty much just reacts to one or the other. Giles, Buffy and Xander are pretty much all equally destroyed by the thought of Willow's death. For Xander, it's got to be the worst flashback of all time, back to Jesse's death in the pilot. For Buffy, the guilt is almost worse than the grief, believing she first goaded Willow into doing something stupid, then failed to protect her. And Giles, usually so in-control of his emotions, is distraught enough to forget his usual reserve and hug alive-Willow as close as he can get her at the first available opportunity; that he immediately retreats into polishing his glasses and stuttering doesn't negate the sentiment. And all of them, against their better judgement, help Willow send her counterpart back, because they can't hurt Willow by staking her alter-self, however much she disturbs and scares them.

Oz and Angel are two different cases. The second Oz believes Willow is dead -- vamped -- he doesn't fall apart like the Slayerettes does. He just instantly does that thing where he's scary as hell, resembling nothing so much as Angel during 'Prophecy Girl'. He snaps orders to Angel, he tries to talk sense to vampWillow and save her victims, even knowing its probably useless, and has the self-control to not even start smiling (much) when alive-Willow makes her appearance at the Bronze, little wave and all. I'm not sure Buffy would have reacted as well in the same situation; I know Xander would have lost it. Major kudos to the Oz-man.

As for Angel, this is one of the first times that we see just how much the Slayerettes in general, and Willow in particular, mean to him. We've always known he feels reponsible for all of them -- moreso now than before -- and affectionate towards Willow, but he comes as close to falling apart as we've ever seen him (when matters of Buffy's death are not involved) when he thinks she's been killed -- and he's almost as upset that he has to break the news to Buffy, Giles and Xander. While he doesn't express his relief as physically as the other Slayerettes when he finds Willow alive, the sheer amount of time it takes him to recover and be able to speak again is pretty revealing. And both sweet and amusing -- I've never seen Angel do a double-take before. Fun.

I just wanted to slap Anya repeatedly, but I did feel really sorry for her at times -- I can't imagine being back in twelfth grade and, getting regularly carded myself at bars (and R-rated movies! I'm 25, people!), I can sympathize with her frustration. I hope she shows up again -- she doesn't strike me as the sort to give up easily, and she could be entertaining. Stick her and Amy (once she gets deratted) in the same room for a while? See how long it takes them to destroy the universe? It's fun if you're me.

Like I said, Cordy's taste in men scares me. Wesley? Alright, he's older and British, which is automatically points in his favor, but come on! At least he's growing a sense of humor, and not lording it over the world as a whole this week -- he can be taught! Yay.

As for Faith... I'm still trying to beleive she's doing the deep-cover thing, but it's getting harder. Still, I can rationalize that she never thought Buffy and company would ever let Willow walk around without a bodyguard, so Willow would be reasonably safe from the mayor, who would still be impressed by Faith passing on the information, thereby securing her cover. What? Look, I was in Forever Knight fandom, I can rationalize until the cows come home (and Nick snacks on them but that's another in-joke entirely).

Best Moments:
Anya bitching about losing her powers. < snicker > I really did feel sorry for her, when I wasn't luahging at the "flunking math" part.

Snyder forcing Willow to tutor Percy. Armin is wonderfully slimy, as always, and Willow's righteous indignation over Der Fuhrer's tactics (and her immediate obedience to Giles' identical tactics) are highly giggling-inducing. I'm so gonna miss Snyder if Joss ever gets around to killing him off.

Wesley's crack about the defibrillators. I'm just so happy he's finally loosening up!

Faith and the mayor in her new pad. He's such the doting, spoiling daddy (when he's not planning to kill Willow) and she's so pyshced about it all that it's almost cute -- ina sick, twisted kind of way. Loved the "Thanks, sugar daddy".

Xander trying to 'help' Buffy. He just keeps digging them deeper... < snicker > And Willow's following attempt to storm off was perfect.

VampWillow taking on Percy. So nice to see him slapped around, and Xander's 'rescue' was sweet. Useless, but sweet.

Buffy, Giles and Xander grieving for Willow. < sniff > So sad.

Ganghugging Willow. She's so confused and desperate for oxygen, Buffy and Xander are so cute -- and Giles is just wonderful when he takes his turn at the grab-and-hug. So sweet and embarrased, but least none of them ever have to doubt again how much he actually does love them.

Oz and Angel! this is their first one-on-one scene, and watching them try to outbland each other is hilarious! They're both so compeltely blase inspecting the newly-arrived vamps, very calmly figuring the odds. Then both of the unflappables flap at presicely the same moment when vampWillow arrives... wonderful!

VampWillow in the Bronze. There was no bad there -- Alyson was wonderful, and the FX guys and the editors were terrific -- the morphs on Willow's face were outstanding!

"Oh, right, me and Oz play Mistress of Pain every night." "Did anyone else just go to a scary visual place?" Much too funny of a line and Giles' expression is priceless!

Freaked-out Angel arriving in the library. I've already gushed, but it was fun! And Xander's "We're right there with you, buddy," as Angel blinks in confusion was sooo cool. The dynamics of this crew are really settling down on the angst levels -- whcih means we're due for Bad Things shortly. :P

Willow versus Willow, both times. Gooooo Good Guys!

Buffy trying ot reassure Willow about vampire personalities and Angel's slip-and-save. < snicker > Angel, some things just don't need to be accurate, 'kay?

Willow's attempt to be VampWillow. She's so adorably inept, and her wave at Oz was far too cute.

Xander and Giles teaming up against the vampires. Xander pulls off a really nice throw that leads me to believe Giles has finally broken down and started giving the boy fighting lessons.

Willow and VampWillow's identical reaction to Anya's braggadoccio. A really nice touch.

Percy the Puny Forward (ten points to anyone who can name that song). Willow, honey, it's all in learning how to use your mean.

Questions and Comments:
Gng! Black arts?!?!?!?!? Dark mojo?!?!??! Aiiieeee!!!! Hello -- black magic and Wicca do not mix! Ever!

So, why did everyone, intent on racing to save the people at the Bronze, come back to the library in time to have their stunningly bad idea regarding Parent Trapping Willow? A small editing glitch on Angel in the library. He begins his doubletake at Willow, we cut to Xander's face, then cut back to Angel -- who starts his doubletake at Willow. I know, nitpicks are us, but it jarred me just enough.

But they're forgiven, because, with the FX guys, they turn in some incredibly tricky shots with both Willows onscreen. I have no clue how they pulled off a few of those scenes (although I suspect they snagged some tricks from the 'Trials and Tribblations' crew), and forgot to analyze the rest -- a testament to how effectively they were doing it. Stunning job.

Gotta nitpick the Cordy characterization -- ticked off she might be, occupied with new guy-like target she might be, but she should not have blown off Willow's presumed death so casually. Bad Joss, no cookie. I thought you'd been broken of screwing with Cordy's character for the sake of a cheap laugh.

Rating: Twice in a row, we're five for five. Almost seamless pick-up from 'The Wish', great performance from Aly in particular and the ensemble as a whole, great directing and FX work, and the laughs never stopped coming. Which isn't to say that parts of this won't come back to haunt our heros.....


"You know, to quote my own roomie, not too many actresses can lick their own necks." -- Mary Beth

"Jack says this was Joss doing some fanfic of his own, that "The Wish" was so cool he just had to play with the toys it created. Especially in light of His Evility's comments on the board back then, I'm inclined to agree. And manomanoman, we should *all* play so brilliantly with other people's toys... (Jack also wants to know what's up with the sexual orientation of all the mirror-universe evil twin redheads... which took me to a very unsettling visual place populated by multiple Kiras, Leetas, and Willows, plus an Ezri thrown in for brunette variety...)" -- Valerie

"Microcosm of how seriously bolluxed Faith's priorities are: that encouraging little shadow that crossed her face at the prospect of killing Buffy was *utterly* obliterated by how she lit up at the prospect of a PlayStation." -- Valerie

"And the thuddingest, heaviest implication of all: everyone's complete inability to stake BizarroWillow. Now, it's totally understandable from Willow--the *last* thing she needs is the image of her own face going *poof* directly above her and making her sneeze. And Giles did protest "releasing her back into the wild", albeit pretty weakly. But it's Buffy that worries me--her flat-out admission that "I can't either, Will." Compassion is all well and good, but that's a brand of it she can't afford in a universe where we all know nobody is truly safe from getting vamped. She's never before been faced with staking someone she loves so much, and whom she hasn't already marked in the "Casualties" column and begun to grieve for (i.e. Ford and Angel). And this was a Willow she had never known, who had never really known her, and who in fact hated her guts. (Not to mention one who had enlisted almost a dozen loyal henchvamps in alarmingly short order...I *shudder* to think what her version of recreating her world would have been, without the Master to answer to!) A pretty disturbing preview of a very real possibility: if one of the Scooby Gang turned up fangy tomorrow, there seems a pretty high likelihood that Buffy would give the Council some highly damaging ammunition for their contention that the Slayer can't afford to have friends and loved full view of Wesley Wimpy Spice, yet. Joss being Joss and all other things being equal, this does not bode well." -- Valerie

"I think her "I can't either" wasx a reassurance to Willow and an agreement to the group decision not to stake her. Had VampWillow grabbed one of the Slayerettes and tried to make a meal of them, I think Buffy could have taken her out fine. (Although she might have been weirded by it later.) I also think that there would be real difference in *how* she staked VampWillow. When she almost did it, she was looking only at the _back_ of a vamp that was trying to kill Willow-- the reflex choice was "in the heat of battle one more generic vamp is trying to kill the friend whose face I'm seeing turning blue right there"-- so, no contest. Had she had to do it later "in cold blood" and face-to-face, it might have been much harder." -- Dianne

"Best moments, natch, were all the ones of people being mega-confused by BizarroWillow. (Hence most of the rompage.) And best of these was the priceless image of Angel and Oz's perfectly synchronized side-by-side double poker faces. *snicker* Almost tied are all the reactions of people when they realize she's a vampire but still think she's their Willow: Giles, Xander and Buffy in world-stopped-turning shock in the library. And Angel, more agitated than we've seen him since "Amends", finally managing to blurt out "Willow's dead". It's easier than saying she's a vampire, that there's a demon walking around where his surrogate baby sister used to be."
"Wasn't that a brilliant scene? "Willow's dead. Hey, Willow." Those were serious tears. I had half-thought they might carry the excessive-Willow-huggage theme through and have Angel grab her as well, but that probably would have been over the top."
"It was great, and I was glad to see Xander do the taking-Angels's-reponse-seriously "We're right there with you, man," rather than pull some JerkXander stunt at Angel's expense like I half-expected." -- Valerie, Gina and Dianne

"Cordy's reaction...I'm on the fence about. ("They got Willow... So, are you doing anything tonight?") On one hand, it seems like a cheap gag at the expense of her character growth, and it bugs me for that reason. But on the other, I have to admit I saw it coming a mile away, and if I take it as classic Cordelia master-level denial, I'm okay with it. This sitch also points up the price she's paying for distancing herself from the gang: she's back in the "I thought you knew" semi-dark about what's going on at any given time. I'd pay good money to see her face the first time she sees Willow after this, if no one has filled her in beforehand!" -- Valerie

"Other random thoughts: So the Mayor is a "family man". Anyone else scared of meeting his family? Or (and this is probably more likely) of seeing what he's planning to sacrifice them to? And one from Jack: "So now Giles knows how to pull things out of time..." " -- Valerie

" Clever Jossian irony, when you think about it--our Willow isn't dead (and possibly vamped) because of the Anya-spell bringing vamp-Willow into our dimension. (Of course, one could postulate that real Willow would have somehow escaped the vampire hit, but still...) " -- Gina

"Whether she thought the target of the hit was Buffy or Willow, though, that obviously doesn't negate Val's point...Faith is heading way down the dark path. Even if one could still theorize that she's a mole and is thinking that one sacrifices "soldiers" in a war (i.e., she had to let Willow be killed to earn the Mayor's trust), that's almost as much of a step into the darkness as just plain selling out to the Mayor would be. When you're prepared to betray one of the truly good souls and allow her to be killed (no matter what you think your larger motivations are), you've gone to a moral place where you're almost as bad as what you're trying to defeat." -- Gina

"I know Willow was having bonding issues with her Bad Self , and _we_ also knew that VampWillow was only about 30 seconds for the BizarroWorld when she did return anyway, but somehow I'd think that if a monster was walking around with my face killing things and threatening my freinds, I'd *like* to see it very much *poofed* out of existance, thank you very much! (Maybe that's just me, though ;-)" -- Dianne

"[Favorite Nonverbal Moments:] The "Hi, Oz!" wave Willow snuck in while pretending to be bad at the Bronze, and Oz's look of complete and total pride as he watched her. :)))) O.K., that settles it for me: I adore Xander, and he and Willow should be bestest friends until the day they die in side-by-side nursing homes, but Oz and Willow need to be together." -- Dianne

"This is the *third* time (after Thomas and Spike) that Willow has been inches from getting bitten, and managed to squirm and talk her way out of it long enough to survive. You *go*, girl!" -- Valerie

"Cool Buffy. Willow as a dominatrix was great, though licking make-up all of those times was probably not too tasty. Gotta wonder how long it will be before Joss does an all leather episode." -- Abby

"I guess I must be the only person who *never* thought she was going undercover - and I think this episode _completely_ negates that idea. She's just gone bad, and is grabbing what she can for herself. Although she does have a few moments of conscience left in her - when the Mayor was talking about having Willow killed, and Faith was looking uneasy, I was jumping up and down and yelling, "See? See? This is where you're heading! Do you really want to go there?!?" And then he bribed her with the PlayStation and she was all smiley and bouncy again... < sigh > It's gonna go down *hard* at the end of the season, I just know it is. I'm starting to brace myself _now_, 'cause I know it's gonna be bad, real bad. < whimper >" -- Maureen

"I *reallyreallyreally* wanted Angel to grab her and hug her! Sooooo disappointed. One of the very few disappointing things about this episode." -- Maureen

"The only other disappointing thing was Cordy's "so, you doing anything tonight?" It's not fair to give her the character development she's had this season, only to have her go back to the old Cordy. She's sharper than that, dammit, even if she *is* hot for Wesley's form! To have Willow go vamp has to be a shock to her, as much as it is to the rest of the Slayerettes. Wesley I can understand - he barely knows Willow, and might not have even recognized her - but not Cordelia." -- Maureen

"[Favorite Nonverbal Moments] And let's not forget Oz at the Bronze when Willow waves at him - that ever so _slight_, but so definite, relaxation and smile... Damn, but that's an impressive piece of physical acting! Oh, yes, and let's not forget Wesley's girly scream! Yeah, I know, not truly non-verbal, but funny anyway." -- Maureen

"I think Faith is living up (down?) to everyone's expectations of her (or, at least, what she perceives of them). I don't think she's going into this believing herself to be a white hat. What happens during the season finale, however, is another matter altogether." -- Lizbet

"Ever read Stephen King's *Needful Things*? When he was tired of writing about Castle Rock, Maine, he destroyed the town. Well... the high school years are about to be over. The end is most definitely nigh. If Joss truly wants to send the gang off to college and in various directions, what better than an apocolyptic battle that could result in not only the destruction of the school (and thus the library and school sets that they won't need anymore) and possibly the town, but also of several of the solid character relationships. With the Mayor headed for ascension, the First Evil lurking around, and the gang's plans for the future hanging over their heads, this season finale is going to be explosive... one way or another." -- Mary Beth

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