Connor Macgregor Reviews...Buffy The Vampire Slayer & Angel


Season 2 Retrospective

Overall Thoughts - Season two was a drastic improvement from the first season. Better episodes overall, a great character arc for Buffy, conflict and romance between the central characters, as well as a sense of fun and excitement throughout the season. Granted, it still feels very 90s and dated, but the strength of the idea & episodes made this season such a cruise to watch.

Buffy - Buffy here is much more well developed in this season. She's embraced her duty as the slayer, as well as developed better as a person too. There's a lot of personal upheaval in this season, mentally and physically. But the performances Sarah Michelle Gellar give are terrific, adding layer after layer to this excellent character. Her performance in Becoming Part 2 is absolutely fantastic, and a real flagship performance for the show to note.

Other Main Characters - Willow & Xander both continue to be good buddies to Buffy, especially Xander with that romance subplot finally booted. Both characters grow as people, but can be still be irritating at times, especially Xander. Cordelia starts to integrate into the group, especially when it comes to her & Xander. Giles is also good here, and his romance with Jenny adds some more human aspects to him.

Angel - I give Angel his own space because he's kind of in it for only the first half of the season. Y'know what I mean. I view Angel & Angelus as two different people really, and so for the first half, its Angel. And as usual, he's good. Not great, as the material here only has him being Buffy's broody boyfriend and that's about it. But for what it is, it's good enough.

Recurring Characters - Supporting characters were much more fun this year. Joyce, Synder & Jenny all return and all three are great. Joyce remains ignorant of Buffy's slayer life, but still has her moments in the show. Snyder is still a great foil for the gang and continues to really wind up Buffy in comedic circumstances. Jenny gets the most development out of three, as we discover more about her past and heritage before she is so cruelly taken away from us. Add that with several new recurring characters. There's Oz, who develops into a love interest for Willow. Played by Seth Green, he's a great character whose very chilled and laid back, and so loveable. Next is Kendra, who is the second summoned slayer following Buffy's "death" in Season One. She's fine but better will come. And then there's Amy coming back for another episode, and this turns out a much better show for her. Now she's a proper witch, and much better developed too.

Big Bad - Replacing The Master is Spike & Drusilla, a very punk couple, who quickly kick The Anointed One to the curb. They are both so much fun to watch as villains, and James Masters is fantastic as Spike. Really adds personality to the character and makes him someone you really want to keep watching. Drusilla's good too, though less exciting for me than Spike is. And then Angelus, the evil side of Angel. Think Jekyll/Hyde but with David Boreanaz. And it's here I'm introduced to one of the most evil characters I've seen on TV. Brilliantly cold, murderous, and evil. Angelus is probably the best Buffy big bad in the show's history.

Favourite/Least Favourite Episode - Really, there are a handful of episodes to mention that I consider favourites. The best of the season was its gut punching finale Becoming Part 2, but credit also goes to Bewitched, Bothered & Bewildered, as being my personal favourite. I just love the story and how much of a mess Xander makes things. Also credit goes to Innocence, The Dark Age & Passion. Least favourites would be Some Assembly Required and Reptile Boy. Not very memorable, and seem to be backtracks into Season one.

Final Thoughts - Season 2 is great and one of my favourite seasons of Buffy, mainly as they look so different at beginning & end. The characters are much different, and they've all grown up slightly.

Rating - 88% - A-

Episode Ranking (As of 2x22)

A+ (100%)
Becoming, Part 2 (100%) (BTVS - 2)
Bewitched, Bothered & Bewildered (100%) (BTVS - 2)
Innocence (100%) (BTVS - 2)

A (91%-99%)
The Dark Age (97%) (BTVS - 2)
Passion (96%) (BTVS - 2)
School Hard (94%) (BTVS - 2)
Becoming, Part 1 (94%) (BTVS - 2)
Halloween (92%) (BTVS - 2)
Lie To Me (92%) (BTVS - 2)
Angel (92%) (BTVS - 1)

A- (81%-90%)
Ted (90%) (BTVS - 2)
Prophecy Girl (89%) (BTVS - 1)
Killed By Death (89%) (BTVS - 2)
Phases (89%) (BTVS - 2)
I Only Have Eyes For You (89%) (BTVS - 2)
Whatís My Line Part II (89%) (BTVS - 2)
Whatís My Line Part I (88%) (BTVS - 2)
Nightmares (87%) (BTVS - 1)
Out Of Mind, Out Of Sight (86%) (BTVS - 1)
Surprise (86%) (BTVS - 2)
The Witch (85%) (BTVS - 1)
Welcome To The Hellmouth (84%) (BTVS - 1)
Inca Mummy Girl (83%) (BTVS - 2)

B+ (71%-80%)
When She Was Bad (80%) (BTVS - 2)
Never Kill A Boy On The First Date (78%) (BTVS -1)
Bad Eggs (77%) (BTVS - 2)
The Harvest (76%) (BTVS - 1)
Go Fish (75%) (BTVS - 2)
The Puppet Show (74%) (BTVS - 1)
I Robot, You Jane (73%) (BTVS - 1)

B (61% - 70%)
Reptile Boy (67%) (BTVS - 2)
Some Assembly Required (64%) (BTVS - 2)
Teacherís Pet (63%) (BTVS - 1)
The Pack (61%) (BTVS - 1)

3x01 - Anne

WARNING: "Summary" spoilers below
Sunnydale Cemetery. Evening. A body once known as Andrew Hoelich rises from its grave, ready for a new life as a creature of the night. Standing in his way is not the Slayer, but rather her closest friends: Willow, Xander, and Oz. Unfortunately, without the powers that make Buffy special, the three friends are unable to kill the vampire before it can escape into the night. Afterwards, the group prepares themselves for the new school season, which begins the very next day. They also wonder if and when Buffy will return to Sunnydale after her unannounced absence since saving the world from the Acathla threat. What they don't know is that Buffy is currently living alone in an apartment in downtown Los Angeles. Buffy's dreams are haunted by Angel, reminding of her of what she had to do in order to stop Acathla.

The next morning, Willow learns that Oz flunked his senior year and needs to repeat it, Xander and Cordelia's anticipated reunion has no sparks whatsoever, and Giles gets the latest in a long line of leads concerning Buffy's possible location. Meanwhile, Buffy is working as a waitress in a diner, under the alias of Anne. During work, she serves a romantic couple of runaways. The girl's name is Lily, while the guy's is Rickie. They both have each other's name tattooed to their forearms. When Lily recognizes the waitress, Buffy denies any familiarity with the girl. At one point, Rickie says to Lily the exact same words that Buffy heard from Angel in one of her dreams. The next day, on the way to work, Buffy passes by an old homeless woman who repeatedly says, "I'm no one." Back in Sunnydale, Giles pays Joyce Summers a visit to inform her that his latest search turned up empty-handed. Joyce expresses her resentment toward Giles, blaming him for Buffy's distance from her own mother.

On her way home from work, Buffy runs into Lily again. Lily gets Buffy's attention by calling her by her real name, then reminds Buffy that she once went by the name of Chantarelle and was involved in a vampire-worshipping cult. Buffy explains that Anne is really her middle name. During their conversation, an old man rudely bumps the both of them aside as he walks towards the street. When asked if he's okay, the old man turns to them and says, "I'm no one." With that, he walks into the middle of the street, then stops in the path of an oncoming car. Buffy dashes into the street and pushes him aside just in time, but not before the car collides and sends her slamming into the pavement. A few locals offer to help her and call an ambulance, but Buffy quickly leaves the scene without even a limp. On the way, Buffy meets a relatively clean-cut man. His name is Ken, and he's handing out flyers for a shelter called the Family Home. Meanwhile, in the Bronze, Xander chats with Willow and Oz about their failure at vampire slaying. Seeing Cordelia enter the Bronze with a few of her friends, Xander hatches a plan to use her as bait.

The next day, Lily visits Buffy at work and tells her that Rickie's been missing for a while. Buffy reluctantly agrees to help, and they first visit the local blood bank where Lily and Rickie often donated in order to make some money. According to the doctor, Rickie hasn't been there in the last few days, so Buffy and Lily agree to split up and meet up later at Buffy's apartment. During a search in an abandoned building, Buffy finds a dead old man with a bottle of Drain Cleaner next to his head. Since the bottle is empty, the old man must have killed himself with it. However, that's not the most disturbing thing: Buffy notices a familiar tattoo on the man's forearm. It says "Lily", which means that this dead old man was Rickie. Back at her apartment, Lily cannot believe the news. She blames Buffy for bringing along some evil from Sunnydale, causing her boyfriend's untimely death. Lily exits the apartment and meets Ken, who tells her that Rickie is alive and staying at the Family Home. Relieved, Lily follows Ken to the shelter. Determined to get to the bottom of things, Buffy breaks into the blood bank after closing hours and finds Rickie's personal file. Alarmed by the word "Candidate" stamped in it, Buffy questions the doctor, who has just arrived on the scene. Buffy gets the info that leads her to the Family Home, where she finds Lily alone with Ken in a room. Before Buffy can find out what's going on, Lily is pulled into the floor through a strange black pool. Buffy struggles with Ken before they both fall into the pool. On the other side of it, they crash down hard on the floor. While Buffy takes care of Lily, Ken removes his mask to reveal the face of a demon underneath. He calls the guards, and Buffy grabs Lily and tries to escape. As the guards give chase, Buffy and Lily run into an enormous factory room. Hundreds of missing runaways work slave labor, while the demonic guards watch them, whips in hand. Ken and the guards catch up to them. With a swift swing of his club, Ken knocks Buffy unconscious.

Back in Sunnydale, Xander, Willow, and Oz try to dust the vampire again, this time with Cordelia as bait. While everyone assumes their hiding positions, Xander and Cordelia argue over what they did or didn't do during the summer. Their fight is interrupted by a scream, for the vamp has snuck up behind Willow and attacked her first. Oz runs in to the rescue, but the vamp quickly knocks him to the ground. Xander tries to drive his stake into the vampire's chest, but they get their arms locked up, preventing Xander from thrusting the stake any further. Cordelia charges the vampire from behind, and all three of them fall to the ground. The vampire lands into the stake, and immediately explodes into dust. This causes Cordelia to fall into Xander's arms. They finally give in to their desires and kiss right then and there.

Buffy regains consciousness inside a prison cell. Lily, who's sitting inside the same cell, believes they're in Hell. Buffy denies this, but that becomes irrelevant as Ken explains their situation. Apparently, they are in some alternate dimension outside of Earth, and time passes differently here. According to Ken, one day on Earth equals one hundred years in this dimension. Buffy puts the pieces together and realizes that the disoriented old people she saw on the street must have been former slaves in this dimension, including Rickie. Buffy, Lily, and several other runaways are then led into a room. A demon guard tells them that they no longer have any individual identities. He then asks a boy to identify himself. When the boy responds with his own name, the guard beats him with a club. Lily's next, and her answer is "no one". A few more slaves respond in the same manner. The guard then asks Buffy. Instead of giving the expected answer, Buffy finally comes to terms with who she is and responds with her true identity, that of the Slayer. With that, Buffy proceeds to fight and subdue the guards in the room. After telling Lily to lead the others to the exit, Buffy runs out into the middle of the factory and battles an endless number of demon guards. One after the other, Buffy defeats them, until Ken grabs Lily and threatens to slice her throat with a knife for Buffy's disobedience. Surprisingly, Lily pushes Ken off the balcony while his back is turned, enabling Buffy to fight off the guards holding her and climb to safety. At the exit, they encounter a heavy gate which Buffy uses all of her strength to lift. Just as she's about to escape herself, Ken tackles her. As he does so, Buffy is knocked towards the outside of the gate, which comes crashing down on Ken's legs. Buffy then takes Ken's club and smashes it onto his skull. After Buffy, Lily, and the other runaways climb through the black pool, it seals itself.

Deciding it's time to go back home, Buffy gives her apartment and her job to Lily. Buffy is confident that Lily can take care of herself from now on. Before Buffy leaves, Lily asks her if she can use Buffy's middle name, Anne, as her own. Buffy agrees and leaves. Back in Sunnydale, Buffy knocks on the door to her home. After Joyce opens it, they stand there, completely speechless. Finally, they embrace. For Giles and the rest of the Sunnydale, the Slayer has returned. For Joyce Summers, someone more important is finally home: her only daughter.

This is a good opener, but not as great as I expected. For one, I felt everything was done too quickly and didn't really need all the stuff with The Scoobies. I would've preferred just making it a Buffy solo episode, just her away in LA fighting her inner turmoil.

What I love here is how vulnerable Buffy is in this episode. No longer strong and confident, she's alone and afraid, and trying to hide from the rest of society. Reintroducing the mysterious Chanterelle once again, but with a different name, is cool. She easily fits into the theme of feeling lost and afraid, in parallel with Buffy's situation. The way LA is depicted is good too, making it very hostile and dangerous to almost everyone living there. I also thought the villain was good too, playing a much more manipulative game than most other villains in the show so far.

The stuff with the scoobies was unnessacary but still good too. Xander & Cordelia were funny with their awkwardness towards each other so clearly. Oz fits in nicely with the group, and the scene with Joyce & Giles is harsh to watch.

Overall, a good episode none the less.

Rating - 79% - B+

3x02 - Dead Man's Party

WARNING: "Summary" spoilers below
After unpacking the last of her belongings, Buffy stops by her mom's bedroom to announce that she's heading outside. Joyce hangs up a Nigerian mask that she got from a friend at her art gallery, then hesitantly gives her daughter permission to go find her friends. Later, in a dark alley, Buffy notices a shadowy figure roaming the alleys. Suspicious, she follows him and accidentally draws his attention by stepping on an aluminum can. The figure spins around and thrusts a stake at her, which Buffy easily blocks. As she grabs the stake out of the man's hands and turns it towards him, she realizes that it's Xander. Before either of them can say much, a vampire appears and attacks the both of them. During the struggle, Buffy hears Cordelia's voice on a walkie-talkie attached to Xander's waist. Soon enough, Cordy, Willow, and Oz arrive on the scene, all decked out with stakes and crosses. Buffy is surprised to see her friends work as a team to get the vampire off of Buffy. One by one, though, they are knocked to the ground by the powerful vampire. Finally, Buffy jumps in and finishes the job, reducing the vampire to a pile of dust. After Buffy greets her bewildered friends, they head over to Giles' apartment. The Watcher is emotionally overcome with joy from seeing his Slayer safe and sound, although he doesn't fully express it until he's alone in his kitchen. In the living room, Buffy avoids discussion topics relating to what she did over the summer. She then makes plans with Willow to meet somewhere the next afternoon.

The next day, Joyce and Buffy visit Principal Snyder in his office. Despite Joyce's protests, Snyder refuses to readmit Buffy back into the school. Afterwards, Joyce drops Buffy off at a coffee shop where she plans to meet Willow. However, Willow never shows up. Buffy heads home, and as she heads towards her front door, a woman steps out. She introduces herself as Pat, a friend of Joyce's at the book club. Inside, Joyce tells Buffy that she invited Giles and her friends over to dinner the following evening. Buffy goes into the basement to get their fancy company plates. There, she finds a stray cat that has been dead for a while. Buffy and Joyce bury it outside. Later that night, after both Buffy and Joyce have fallen asleep, the eyeholes of the mask in Joyce's bedroom begin to glow. As they do so, the stray cat works its way out of the ground as if it had never died.

Overnight, Buffy dreams that she is walking around the Sunnydale High campus. Nobody else is there, except for Angel. She then wakes up and heads to the kitchen. The stray cat reenters the Summers home, shocking both Buffy and Joyce. Giles arrives shortly with a cage to capture the cat and bring it back to the library for further study. After finding the cat in Joyce's bedroom, he notices the Nigerian mask on her wall. He then informs Buffy that she is no longer allowed on school grounds. At the library, Giles studies his demonology text while the rest of the Slayerettes make plans for the dinner that evening. By the end of their discussion, the intimate dinner has become a full-blown party, complete with pot luck snacks and Oz's band. During the discussion, Giles careless flips past a page without looking at it. On this page is a picture of the same mask hanging in Joyce's bedroom.

That evening, Pat comes over to visit Joyce. Merely moments after Buffy shuts the door, Oz's band, Dingoes Ate My Baby, arrives. Buffy was not notified in advance that they had planned a huge party, but that's exactly what she gets before long. After wading through dozens of people she's never even met before, Buffy finds Willow near the band. Buffy pulls her over to a quieter area and asks Willow if she's been avoiding her. Willow denies this, then immediately leaves Buffy alone and heads back to where he band is playing. On her way upstairs, Buffy briefly talks to Xander and Cordelia, who are lost in their own world of nonstop smoochies. Buffy then stops outside the kitchen, where Joyce and Pat are talking about having Buffy back home. Buffy overhears her mom talking about how much more difficult it is now that Buffy's home. Unable to take much more animosity from her closest friends and family, Buffy goes up to her bedroom and starts packing her bag again. Meanwhile, Giles finally finds what he's been looking for in his texts: the picture of the Nigerian mask. Horrified by what he reads, he calls the Summers home, but one of the partygoers answers the phone, and the music is too loud for him to fully understand what Giles is saying. Giles gives up and drives towards Buffy's home. On the way, he accidentally hits a man in the middle of the road. Upon getting out and inspecting the body, Giles realizes that this man died long before he ever wandered onto the road. The corpse grabs Giles and shoves him against the car. Giles watches in horror as he sees several more zombies appearing from the shadows. All over town, corpses arise from crime scenes, hospital beds, and even their graves, all with one destination in mind: the Summers household. Giles finally fends off the zombies and gets back in his car.

Willow finds Buffy packing her bag in her bedroom. Not long after they argue over Buffy's decision to run away, Joyce enters the bedroom. Her reaction to seeing Buffy's packed bag is much more heated. Buffy tries to get out of the house, but Joyce stops her right in the middle of the main floor. As everybody gathers around and watches, Joyce drops all her restraints and angrily chews out Buffy for what she did (and didn't do) over the summer. Buffy tries to defend herself, but Xander joins in and offers his own cold remarks. Just as it seems that everybody is against Buffy and her whole world is caving in, the zombies invade the household. They quickly and brutally attack and kill several of the guests, while everybody else runs for their lives. Many try to keep the doors and windows blocked off, while others just panic in general. One of the zombies grabs Pat and drags her off down a hallway. While Buffy, Joyce, Xander, and Willow run upstairs, Oz and Cordelia hide in a downstairs closet. Upstairs, Joyce finds Pat lying flat on the floor. They help her to her feet and into Joyce's bedroom. While the group tries to keep the zombies from forcing the door open, Willow checks Pat's pulse and realizes that she's already dead.

Several moments later, Oz and Cordelia step out of the closet and notice that all of the zombies are now upstairs. They run into Giles, who has just arrived. He explains that the mask contains the power of the zombie demon named Ovu Mobani, or Evil Eye. All the zombies are after it, and whoever puts it on will become the demon. Upstairs, nobody notices Pat as she suddenly gets up. Surprised to see that her friend is alive, Joyce runs over, only to be knocked to the floor by the zombie Pat. As Joyce and Xander look on, Pat puts the mask on, which immediately molds to her face. Pat begins to speak, except it isn't her voice anymore. It is the voice of the demon Ovu Mobani, and the zombies that were previously trying to get into the room are now paralyzed with fear by Mobani's presence. Buffy tries to attack the demon, but it turns its head and flashes a brilliantly white light which stuns Buffy. Unable to move, Buffy takes the powerful blow of the demon hard. The demon then stuns Willow and moves in for the kill, but not before Buffy recovers and pushes Mobani through the second story window, along with herself. After they crash onto her backyard, Buffy tries to avoid the demon's gaze by covering her eyes. Giles tells Oz to warn Buffy that attacking its eyes is the only way to defeat Mobani. Oz runs out and immediately falls victim to Mobani's stun flash. Buffy uses this moment to her advantage and thrusts a shovel directly into the demon's eyes. It cries out in horror, then vanishes, along with all of the other zombies. After everybody regroups inside, nobody can bring themselves to spite Buffy any longer, as she finally embraces Willow after so long.

The next day, Giles visits Principal Snyder's office and threatens to contact state officials if Buffy isn't readmitted. When Snyder doesn't believe his threat, Giles applies a little brute force to get his message across. Later, Buffy and Willow meet at the coffee shop. Willow discusses her experiments with witchcraft. They understand what each other has been feeling during the past few months, and like the true friends that they are, accept it.

Angst is very much the keyword of this episode. Dealing with the pain that was left behind, and the awkwardness surrounding the actions of Buffy at the end of season 2. Everyone is hurt, confused, upset, and angry. Its a tornado of emotions that come out in the worse possible way. Buffy is anxious about being back, and fitting into a normal routine again, whilst the rest of the gang are anxious about Buffy returning out of the blue and wanting to bury everything without so much of an explanation. The clash in the Summers household is such an uncomfortable scene to watch, and you really feel for everyone involved, especially Buffy who we feel most closest too.

The zombie stuff on the other hand isn't that interesting to watch. Its pretty dull and as villains of the week, aren't particulary very creative to watch.

Rating - 76% - B+

3x03 - Faith, Hope & Trick

WARNING: "Summary" spoilers below
A limo pulls into the drive-thru at Sunnydale's Happy Burger restaurant. Inside the limo are not your ordinary customers, but rather vampires in search of the Slayer. One of them has cloven hooves in place of hands. On the way to their new hideout, one the vamps, Mr. Trick, picks up a diet soda... and the drive-thru employee himself. Later that night, Buffy dreams that she is dancing with Angel in the Bronze. During their dance, Buffy's claddagh ring slips off her finger and falls to the floor. Angel picks it up and clutches it in his hand, so tightly that blood starts to pour from his fist. As Buffy watches in horror, more blood seeps from Angel's chest in the exact same spot that she drive the sword through months ago.

The next morning, Principal Snyder finally re-admits Buffy into Sunnydale High, due to orders from the school board itself. Buffy needs to follow a few conditions, one of which being her ability to pass make-up exams for all the classes she missed last school year. A student again, Buffy visits the library with Willow, where they find a variety of spell ingredients on the counter. Giles tells Buffy that he needs to perform a binding spell on Acathla to make sure the demon remains dormant. In order for the spell to work, Giles needs to know the exact details of how Buffy defeated Acathla and Angel. Buffy lays out the basics, leaving out the part where Angel's soul was restored. Later that night at the Bronze, Buffy turns down a dance offer from Scott Hope, a fellow student who's had his eyes on Buffy for a while. Cordelia points out an interesting couple on the dance floor. As Buffy watches them dance, she begins to suspect that the guy may be a vampire on the prowl. As they head out of the Bronze, Buffy and her friends follow them out. Sure enough, the guy is a vampire. What does take the group by surprise is the girl's handling of the situation. Instead of screaming and trying to run for her life, the girl proceeds to beat the crap out of the vampire, stopping momentarily to greet Buffy by name and introduce herself as Faith. This new Slayer then takes the stake out of Buffy's hand and finishes off the vamp before heading back inside. While the group listens to Faith's wild stories, Cordelia finally puts the pieces together and realizes that Faith was called forth in response to Kendra's death. Faith is unlike Buffy, but she's different than Kendra also. Kendra was always uptight and on the defensive, while Faith is much looser and a little wild. During their conversation, Faith informs Buffy that her Watcher is currently at an annual retreat. Unaware of this Watchers' retreat, Buffy takes Faith to the library to meet Giles, who apparently has never been invited to any of the retreats. Buffy invites Faith to dinner at her place. While Buffy takes one of her make-up exams, Xander and Willow give Faith a tour of their school, pointing out all the hot spots where they brushed with death. Elsewhere, in an abandoned building, Mr. Trick explains to Kakistos how they could stay in Sunnydale and still operate around the globe, thanks to the internet. Kakistos has no interest in these matters. His only goal is to kill Faith, who caused the huge scar running over his right eye.

At the Summers home, Joyce is as impressed with Faith as the rest of Buffy's friends are, if not more so. Buffy excuses herself from the dining table to talk with her mom in the kitchen. Joyce suggests to Buffy that Faith could take over her duties as the Slayer, but Buffy reminds her that it's her job until she dies. Joyce is not happy to hear this, but she's slowly learning to accept it. After dinner, Buffy and Faith patrol for vampires. During their patrol, they get into an argument over Buffy's attitude towards Faith and the apparent fact that she's holding something in. Suddenly, several vampires attack the two Slayers. During the fight, Faith loses control on one vampire and repeatedly pummels it without even thinking of finishing the job with a stake. This leaves Buffy at the mercy of the other two vampires, who have her pinned to the ground. As one of them moves in for the kill, he mentions a name: Kakistos. Buffy succeeds in breaking their hold and killing one of them, while the other gets away. She then pulls Faith off of the brutally beaten vampire and dusts it with her stake. It seems Buffy isn't the only one with personal problems.

Buffy tells Giles about Faith's actions the next morning at school. She also tells Giles what the vampire said to her, and Giles immediately recognizes the name Kakistos. It's Greek for "the worst of the worst". Kakistos is a vampire who is so old that his hands have turned into cloven hooves. While Giles gets on the phone to contact Faith's Watcher at the retreat, Buffy runs into Scott in the hallway. He makes one last stab at trying to get Buffy out on a date. Charmed by his efforts, Buffy finally accepts. Scott then hands Buffy a box, saying it's a gift to represent their friendship. Buffy opens it and finds a claddagh ring inside, exactly like the one Angel gave to her that night on the docks. Overcome with emotion, Buffy drops the ring. As it hits the floor in the exact same fashion that it did in her dream, Buffy backs out of her date with Scott. Giles arrives and tries to help her, but Buffy insists she's okay. Giles then reveals that Faith's Watcher is not at the retreat -- Faith's Watcher is dead.

Buffy tracks down Faith to a sleazy motel. Buffy informs her that Kakistos is in town, which causes a look of fear and dread to wash over Faith's face. She immediately starts packing and starts to head out. Buffy stops her by mentioning her Watcher, who was killed by Kakistos. They hear a knock on the door, and Faith opens it. They are greeted by Kakistos, Mr. Trick, and a few of their cohort vampires. Buffy shuts the door and escapes out the back with Faith. The vampires chase them into a building. Seemingly safe for now, Faith explains that she witnessed Kakistos murdering her Watcher. Just then, Faith notices a couple of dead bodies on the floor. Buffy realizes that they didn't escape the vampires, but were instead driven into the building on purpose. As the vampires start to converge on them, Buffy and Faith run into the middle of the floor. Buffy takes on several vampires while Faith goes one-on-one with Kakistos. Paralyzed with fear, Faith can't fight back while Kakistos grabs her by the neck and repeatedly strikes her in the face. Buffy runs over to help, while Mr. Trick and a female vampire decide to abandon their master and head out into town on their own. Kakistos' body is so strong that Buffy's stake has no effect on him. Faith takes a cue from Kakistos' mockery and picks up a huge pointed beam. Before Kakistos can realize what she's doing, Faith drives it straight through his heart, causing Kakistos to crumble into dust.

The next day, the Watcher's council approves Giles' request to watch over both Buffy and Faith until a new Watcher can be assigned to her. Unable to keep her secret any longer, Buffy tells Giles and Willow the whole truth about what happened that night in the mansion. She explains that Willow's attempt at the restoration spell worked, and Angel was cured before Buffy drove the sword through him and sent him to Hell. After she heads out, Giles tells Willow that there never was a binding spell to perform on Acathla. He made the whole thing up so that Buffy would finally vent out whatever's been eating at her from the inside all this time. In the hallway, Buffy finds Scott and revives their plans for their weekend date.

Later that night, Buffy revisits the mansion where Angel, Spike, and Dru once stayed. Back at the scene where Buffy kissed Angel for the last time, she places the claddagh ring on the floor and bids her final farewell to Angel. After she leaves, the floor of the mansion begins to rumble. A bright light appears in the air, and the naked body of a man falls out from it and onto the floor. He lies there, afraid and shivering. It's Angel, who has returned from Hell... somehow.

This is the first appearance of Faith, the second slayer who takes over from Kendra. She's very different from Buffy, more punk, more aggressive and fun. Her and Buffy get on, but its clear that there are severe differences. You then have Buffy's turmoil over letting Angel go following the events of Season 2. Can she really say goodbye? Well regardless, Angel's return is a clever little ending with regards to the editing, and sets up some even more emotional baggage for the rest of the season.

Once again, the villain is the downside here. Lackluster, not very interesting, and only really adds to give Faith a more lively introduction.

Rating - 77% - B+

3x04 - Beauty & The Beasts

WARNING: "Summary" spoilers below
It's Oz's time of the month, which means he has to spend three consecutive nights locked in the book cage of the library while someone watches over him. After Xander comes in to relieve Willow of her post, he lies down on the table and falls asleep. At the cemetery, Buffy patrols for vampires with Faith. Neither of them are close enough to the woods to detect a chase, which ends brutally for a boy named Jeff Orkin.
Beauty and the Beasts The next morning, Buffy, Willow, and Oz meet up with Scott and two of his friends: Pete and Debbie. Oz offers his old biology notes to Debbie, so they plan to meet up later. Buffy then heads off for her required therapy appointment with the counselor while Willow and Oz go to the library. To both Oz and Willow's dismay, Giles and Xander inform them of the murder that occurred the previous night. The fact that Xander slept through most of the night and the window inside the caged area is open does not bode well for Oz. Meanwhile, Buffy meets her counselor, Mr. Platt. While she's hesitant to discuss the full details of her reasons for running away, Buffy does come to respect Mr. Platt's helpful manner. After school, Buffy meets the others in the library and learns that Oz may have killed someone while he was a werewolf. Giles tells Willow, Xander, and Cordelia to go to the morgue and inspect Jeff's corpse, while Buffy must be on the look-out for the killer if it isn't Oz. He'll have Faith watch over Oz that night. At the morgue, Willow collects evidence which clearly indicates that Jeff was mauled by a savage animal. She then passes out due to the realization that Oz is the most likely suspect. Outside, Buffy encounters someone running wild through the woods. To her surprise, that someone is Angel. However, he's not exactly in his right mind, and he immediately attacks Buffy. They fight for a while before Buffy finally knocks him out. She then takes him to Spike and Dru's mansion, where she uses some of Dru's old chains to lock Angel up and keep him from escaping out into the woods. Unable to communicate with Angel, Buffy notices the burnt pattern on the floor that indicates the spot where Angel landed at the end of his return trip from Hell. Unable to spend the rest of the night at home, Buffy goes to the library and takes over for Faith.

Giles finds Buffy asleep in one of the library chairs the next morning. He notices the books she's been reading, which deal with demon dimensions and Acathla. After Buffy wakes up, she asks Giles if Angel could ever return from Hell, and if so, what would he be like. Buffy would rather not tell Giles right away that she found Angel. While Giles doubts the possibilty of Angel's return, he goes on to say that because time moves much faster in the other dimension, Angel would have been trapped there for an incredibly long time. After so many years of torture, he couldn't possibly be the same person mentally that he once was. Later, at lunchtime, Buffy joins Scott, Pete, and Debbie at their table. Unable to straighten out her feelings, Buffy leaves shortly and goes to the mansion. As soon as she rests a hand on Angel's shoulder, he goes berserk. Shaken by how much he's changed, Buffy heads back to Sunnydale High. Inside, Buffy goes to Mr. Platt's office and confesses that she truly needs help with all that's going on in her life. Unfortunately, she won't get any help from Mr. Platt, whom she soon discovers has been murdered, most likely by the same attacker that killed Jeff Orkin. After school, Pete pulls Debbie into the maintenance room to make out for a while. Inside, he notices that a jar once containing a glowing green formula is now virtually empty. Debbie tries to deny doing anything with it, but she soon admits that she got rid of it in order to help Pete get better. However, Pete convulses and transforms into a hideous, monstrous form of himself, proving to Debbie that he doesn't need the formula anymore. During this phase, Pete strikes Debbie in the face, knocking her to the ground. Pete then regains control of himself and changes back to his normal self before joining Debbie on the floor. Despite being struck by her boyfriend turned monster, Debbie has no problem excusing Pete's actions. Afterwards, Debbie meets Oz by the fountain to get his biology notes. Noticing the bruise on her eye, Oz stops Debbie from leaving right away by lightly grabbing her shoulder and asking if she's okay. From a distance, Pete watches this whole conversation.

With evidence indicating that Mr. Platt was killed during the day, Oz is off the hook. In the library, the group draws a connection between the two victims and Debbie. Oz tells the others about Debbie's bruised eye, which doesn't quite follow with the suddenness of Mr. Platt's death. This leads them to suspect Pete, both for the two murders and for striking Debbie. While Oz locks himself in the cage for the third and final night of the month, Buffy and Willow confront Debbie. Unfortunately, Debbie refuses to help them stop Pete. During the conversation, Angel breaks his chains free of the mansion wall and escapes. Buffy and Willow have no idea that Pete is in the library at that very moment, ready to kill Oz for touching Debbie. Pete changes into his monster form and rips the door off the cage. After throwing Oz around the library for a little while, the sun finally sets and the moon shines, allowing Oz to turn the tables on Pete. In his werewolf form, Oz is an even match for Pete's ferocity. The sounds of their battle alerts the others to the library. Buffy tries to knock them out with the dart gun, but shoots Giles instead when Debbie pushes the gun off to the side just as Buffy pulls the trigger. While the tranquilizer dart takes Giles out of the action, Oz and Pete break apart and escape into the school hallways. Willow and Faith take down Oz with the dart gun. Buffy chases Pete to the maintenance room, where she finds Debbie dead on the floor, murdered by Pete. Another fight ensues. Just as it appears that Buffy's about to lose the fight, Angel arrives and kills Pete. To Buffy's suprise, Angel manages to say her name before falling to his knees and embracing her.

The next day, Buffy can't find the words to console Scott, who lost two of his best friends without ever knowing the truth about what really happened. Later that night, Buffy watches Angel as he sleeps on the floor of the mansion. He constantly flinches and trembles, apparently suffering from nightmares of his time in Hell.

This episode centers around the theme of domestic violence, which is a rare them to tackle in a supernatural show, as well as very difficult. But for the most part, its handled very well and you totally buy into this very toxic relationship. I love the tragedy of the relationship, and how its a sad consequence to the supernatural goings on in Sunnydale.

Buffy & Angel reuniting is nice, and provides new drama for Buffy. Angel is a feral beast, and not in very much control of his actions. Buffy's job now is to bring him back to reality and help him find his path again after the chaos of last season.

My only downside for this episode was the lack of Cordelia. Not a major criticism but something that I felt decreased the episode slightly.

Rating - 87% - A-

3x05 - Homecoming

WARNING: "Summary" spoilers below
With Homecoming approaching, Cordelia plans to start her campaign for the title of Homecoming queen, while the rest of the gang debates on their mode of transportation to the dance. Buffy, however, is still distracted by Angel's recent return, so she takes off for the mansion shortly after Scott asks her to the dance. At the mansion, Buffy assures Angel that nobody else knows that he's back. To Angel's dismay, Buffy also tells him that she's currently seeing another guy. Unfortunately, that statement doesn't hold true for much longer, for Scott dumps Buffy the very next morning. He explains that the down and depressed Buffy he knows now is not the same Buffy he knew before they started dating. After Scott leaves, Buffy wanders around outside of the school alone... and completely unaware of the two German men who are watching her from inside a van. Using state-of-the-art equipment, they transmit their visual to a lavish mansion, where an old man receives the signal and shows the image of Buffy to his boss: Mr. Trick.

At City Hall, Mayor Richard Wilkins III learns from his deputy mayor that two German brothers with impressive criminal records have recently been spotted in Sunnydale. Their names are Frederick and Hans Gruenshtahler, and they're the same two men who have been spying on Buffy. The Mayor isn't too worried about this. In fact, he's more concerned with cleanliness and personal hygiene, which he displays by closely inspecting his deputy mayor's hands. Meanwhile, at Sunnydale High, the senior class gets its pictures taken in the lounge for their fourth and final high school yearbook. Buffy's a no-show, so Cordelia heads to the library to tell her about the photo session. Before she can enter the library, Cordy is distracted by her Homecoming queen campaign priorities and completely forgets to inform Buffy. Inside the library, Buffy and Faith plan to attend the dance together since Scott is no longer in the picture.

The next day, Buffy asks one of her favorite teachers from the previous school year, Ms. Moran, to write her a recommendation to give to Principal Snyder. Buffy needs the recommendation to fulfill one of the conditions set by Snyder for her readmittance. However, Ms. Moran can't even remember Buffy's name, let alone anything about her to merit a written recommendation. Buffy's woes increase at lunch when she learns from Xander and the others that she missed the yearbook photo session. Upset with Cordy's irresponsibility, Buffy approaches the Homecoming queen candidate and speaks her mind. Naturally, Cordy retaliates with her own special brand of verbal abuse. This motivates Buffy to compete with Cordy and run for Homecoming queen herself. Later that night, Mr. Trick assembles a promising group of hunters at his mansion for an event called Slayerfest '98. Included in this group of hunters: Frawley, a human hunter with a rifle and a set of bear traps; Lyle and Candy Gorch, two recently-married vampires; Frederick and Hans Gruenshtahler, the German brothers who have been tracking Buffy's every move; and Kulak, a yellow-skinned demon who keeps jagged blades inside his forearms. Mr. Trick hopes this Slayerfest will see the end of both Buffy and Faith. Meanwhile, at the Rosenberg residence, Xander helps Willow pick out a dress for the dance while he tries on the tuxedo he'll be wearing. Initially, they discuss their relationships with Cordelia and Oz. However, after Willow puts on her best dress and Xander completes his attire, the only thing on their minds is each other. While Xander gives Willow a brief lesson on dancing, the two best friends lose themselves in the moment and share a kiss. That moment is quickly interrupted when they both realize what they've done, both to themselves and their significant others.

The next morning, Buffy learns that she'll be campaigning alone, since all of her friends have already committed to helping Cordy. Buffy and Cordy kick their Homecoming queen campaigns into full gear, hoping to outdo each other in the race for the title. While Buffy convinces Willow to give her a little help, Frederick and Hans listen in on their conversation. They pay particular attention to Buffy's announcement that the limo will pick up Faith first, Buffy second, and the rest of the group afterwards. Later in the day, Buffy learns that Cordy has been paying some of the students money to get their votes. This leads to another argument between the two candidates, only this one ends on a much harsher note. Distraught, Willow tells Xander that their brief tryst must be partly responsible for the current feud between Buffy and Cordelia. Eventually, Xander and Willow's conversation turns to the bigger problem at hand: what are they themselves going to do now. Later that night, the limo stops at the Summers home to pick up Buffy as planned. Buffy is surprised to find Cordy inside instead of Faith. According to a note written by the gang, Buffy and Cordy will be taking the limo to the dance alone so that they may work out their differences before the crowning of the Homecoming queen. Included with the note are a couple of corsages. The limo's destination is not the dance, however, but rather the nearby woods. Buffy and Cordy step out of the limo and notice a monitor and VCR set up on a table, along with a sign that informs them to play the tape. Buffy and Cordy watch a recording of Mr. Trick, who welcomes Buffy and Faith to Slayerfest '98. Apparently, they expected Faith to be in Cordy's place. Before Cordy can clear up the confusion, the monitor explodes, and the hunt begins. The first hunter they run into is Frawley, who Buffy immobilizes by knocking him into one of his own traps. Unable to free his leg, Frawley informs Buffy and Cordy of the rest of the hunter group. While Buffy and Cordy take refuge inside a cabin, Xander and Willow find themselves guilty and ashamed at the dance, even after Giles commends them on their effort to resolve the feud between Buffy and Cordy. In the cabin, Cordy finds a telephone which Buffy uses to call Giles at the library. Buffy explains to Cordy that she's running for Homecoming queen because she wants a high school memory that doesn't involve her job as the Slayer. Suddenly, Kulak bursts into the cabin and attacks Buffy. During their battle, Frederick and Hans approach the cabin. They are being navigated by the old man, who is tracking Buffy and Cordy with his computer system back at the mansion. The German brothers fire an explosive device into the cabin, which causes Buffy to stop her battle with Kulak and escape with Cordy. Kulak fails in his attempt to get out of the cabin, and he is killed in the explosion. Buffy and Cordy get up from the ground and head back to the library, unaware that Lyle and Candy Gorch have knocked out Giles and are waiting for them to arrive.

While Buffy and Cordy head to the library, a pair of police officers arrive at Mr. Trick's mansion and escort him away, against his will. At the library, Buffy fights with Candy Gorch before dusting her. Enraged, Lyle moves in to attack, but Cordy stops him short and launches into an impressive speech that scares Lyle into taking off. After Giles regains consciousness, he points out that he wasn't aware of the group buying corsages for Buffy and Cordy. Buffy notices small electronic devices in the corsages, which the old man must have been using to track their movements. They hear the German brothers in the hallway, so Buffy binds the bugs together with a bundle of wet toilet paper. After leading one of the brothers into a classroom, she throws the mass of toilet paper onto his back. The old man gives the other brother the coordinates, and both Frederick and Hans proceed to shoot each other dead. Meanwhile, the two police officers bring Mr. Trick to City Hall, where Mayor Wilkins introduces himself. He reveals that he's quite aware that Mr. Trick is a vampire, and he wants his help in eliminating the "rebellious element" from Sunnydale. Mr. Trick realizes that the Mayor is referring to the Slayers. At the dance, Buffy and Cordy finally arrive, only to learn that neither of them is the new Homecoming queen, for the other two candidates win the election in a tie.

Homecoming is a good fun episode which begins to shred the very last of the high school era. It's about Buffy claiming what is left of any high school credibility. That means going up against Cordelia, who is very much in control of what is cool and trendy in High school. It's a fun clash between the two as both play against each other, which leaves the rest of the characters split on loyalty. You then have Slayerfest98, adding more pressure on Buffy on the night itself, throwing her and Cordy into considerable danger. Both Sarah & Charisma give great performances, and we see a side of Buffy rarely seen; a more vulnerable, envious type of character. We also get some good Faith moments in the episode too, very funny and showcases Eliza's comedic traits too.

Rating - 88% - A-

3x06 - Band Candy

WARNING: "SUMMARY" spoilers below

Buffy's S.A.T. is coming up, so Giles helps her study for it at the cemetery while waiting for any vampires to rise from their graves. At City Hall, Mayor Wilkins enlists Mr. Trick's aid for an upcoming tribute to a demon. Mr. Trick just so happens to know a man who can help them.

The next morning, Principal Snyder enlists students to sell candy in order to raise money for Sunnydale High's marching band, and Buffy and the gang are at the top of Snyder's recruitment list. After Buffy convinces her mother to buy some candy, she revives their long-standing debate over whether or not she can get a license and start driving. Joyce remains uncomfortable with the notion of her daughter behind a steering wheel. Buffy then heads off for the library, telling her mother that she has some more training to do with Giles. Joyce is not pleased with how much time Buffy has to spend working with Giles. At the library, Buffy trains briefly with Giles before leaving early, explaining to him that her mom wants her home early. Buffy then visits Angel at the mansion, bringing along a container of blood from the butcher shop. When Buffy finally goes home, she is surprised to find both her mom and her Watcher waiting for her in the foyer. They both have figured out that Buffy lied to them in order to go someplace else, although Joyce suspects that place was the Bronze. Unhappy with the way she's being treated, Buffy expresses how she can't fulfill both of their demands for the amount of time they want to spend with her. After Buffy goes to her room, Giles and Joyce relax on the couch, curiously eating one candy bar after another. Elsewhere, these same candy bars are being packaged in a factory. Overlooking the whole process is none other than Giles' old rival, Ethan Rayne.

Buffy, Cordy, Xander, Willow, and several other students sit in study hall on Friday, waiting for their supervisor to arrive. The staff member assigned to study hall this day happens to be Giles, who is uncharacteristically late. While the students wait, Xander and Willow engage in a forbidden game of footsie under their table, apparently still hung up over each other after their kiss on Homecoming week. Principal Snyder talks one of the teacher, Ms. Barton, into filling in for Giles. Buffy is both surprised and dismayed to learn that Giles never showed up, but she and the rest of the students are even more surprised when Ms. Barton speaks to them loosely and freely, going so far as to refer to their principal as "Commandant Snyder". After school, Buffy goes to Giles' apartment to find out where he was, but that soon becomes irrelevant when she notices that her mother is there as well. Giles explains that he and Joyce have been working out a schedule to make it easier for Buffy to spend enough time with the both of them. Joyce then stuns her daughter by handing her the keys to her jeep, telling Buffy to drive herself home. After Buffy grabs the keys and leaves, Giles lights up a cigarette, dropping the charade that he and Joyce were putting on for Buffy when she arrived just now. Not one to pass up on an opportunity like this, Buffy picks up Willow in the jeep and drives off to the Bronze, displaying a horrific driving ability along the way. At the Bronze, Buffy and Willow immediately notice the vast number of adults present, which is unusual for any given night at the Bronze. Even stranger is that all of the adults are acting like rowdy teenagers, including Principal Snyder, who acts like he's just one of the Scooby Gang. While Buffy and Willow try to decipher this phenomenon, Giles and Joyce drink, smoke, and listen to old LP's before heading out into town. Giles and Joyce stroll by the store windows, one of which showcases a coat that catches Joyce's eye. Giles breaks into the window and steals the coat for the new "girl" in his life. A cop tries to stop them, but Giles makes short work of the cop and takes his gun before leaving the scene with Joyce. Back at the Bronze, Buffy decides that they need to get out and find some answers. As Buffy, Willow, and Oz leave the Bronze and get into the jeep, Snyder follows them into the car. Since time is definitely an issue, Buffy lets him tag along. Meanwhile, adults all over town are acting like teenagers, just like the people at the Bronze. Two guys even get into a drag race, and one of them smashes into Buffy's jeep. After everyone gets out of the car, one man runs by and steals Snyder's candy bar. Buffy realizes that there must be something wrong with the candy. Buffy instructs Willow and Oz to get Xander and Cordelia and head to the library, while she and Snyder drive to the candy bar factory.

Buffy and Snyder arrive at the factory, where a huge mob of adults are gathered around the entrance to get more candy bars. On her way to the entrance, Buffy is distracted by the sight of Giles kissing Joyce right in front of her eyes. Unable to deal with them at this moment, Buffy knocks out the workers and enters the factory, with Giles, Joyce, and Snyder following closely behind. Inside, Buffy finds Ethan, who wastes no time in running away. He tries to lose them in the maze of candy bar boxes, but Buffy eventually finds him. Back at the library, the rest of the gang tries to find some useful information, but they can't do much without a good lead. Buffy learns from Ethan that his job was mainly to divert the adults from the main objective, which is to pay tribute to a demon named Lurconis. Oz and Willow discover that Lurconis feeds on babies. Unbeknownst to any of them, a group of vampires walk into the hospital nursery and steal four of the infants there. Buffy and the others are too late in getting to the hospital. However, Giles is able to recall that Lurconis means "glutton", and that they should be able to find him in the sewers. They go down into the sewer tunnels and find the babies, along with Mr. Trick, the other four vampires, and the Mayor. As soon as Buffy and Giles arrive, Mayor Wilkinson immediately flees the scene. While Buffy fights the vampires, Giles and Joyce move the babies out of harm's way. During the battle, Buffy throws one of the vampires into a large pool. A large rumbling soon follows, and Lurconis, a huge serpentine creature, emerges from an opening next to the pool and devours the hapless vampire. Mr. Trick challenges the Slayer to a fight, but her Watcher intervenes and attempts to take on the vampire. Mr. Trick easily tosses Giles into the pool and escapes. With Lurconis coming back for seconds, Buffy detaches a fuel line and ignites the open end on one of the torches that the vampires set up, creating a giant blowtorch. As Lurconis emerges from the opening once again, Buffy roasts the demon, sending it back into its dwelling. Afterwards, Mayor Wilkinson expresses his disappointment in Mr. Trick's failure, warning him not to make the same mistakes again.

The following Monday morning, all the adults in Sunnydale are back to normal. Buffy laments to Giles after school about the disaster that was her S.A.T. They meet up with Joyce by the jeep, which is still wrecked. Buffy is relieved that she was able to stop Giles and Joyce before they went a little too far with their carefree romance... or so she believes.

I love the idea of this episode and how fun the concept is to execute. It's a strong episode, and the writers definitely up the ante with this idea, putting a magic spell into the residents of Sunnydale, mainly older civilians. Giles & Joyce getting together and cruising around Sunnydale fifties style is good for giggles, and fun for Buffy to react to. Ethan Rayne's return is also good and fun to watch him play off with Giles as it's a fascinating relationship these two characters both have. Lastly to note is just how funny Snyder is in this episode. I love how he becomes attached to the Scobbies and is just such a geek throughout.

Rating - 92% - A

Season 3 is my favourite episode and Band Candy is such a good example of the season. Secondary characters really shine and its fun, while putting forward a few things (and giving Buffy her dream parents but, as always, showing that maybe it's not quite what you'd actually want.)
5-time MoFo Award winner.

3x07 - Revelations

WARNING: "Summary" spoilers below
After Dingoes Ate My Baby finishes its set during a particularly crowded night at the Bronze, Oz joins Willow, Xander, and Cordelia at their table. Hoping to divert attention away from her and Xander's uneasiness around each other, Willow brings up the topic of Buffy acting differently as of late. Cordy suggests that Buffy might have found a new man. Buffy stops by briefly before heading off with Faith towards the cemetery for a rendezvous with Giles. In no time, Buffy and Faith are battling two newly-risen vampires while their Watcher observes. After successfully vanquishing the vampires, a woman arrives on the scene. She criticizes Buffy and Faith's performance, then identifies herself as Mrs. Gwendolyn Post -- Faith's new Watcher.

Upon returning to the library, Gwendolyn Post informs Giles, Buffy, and Faith that she has been sent by the Watchers' Council to serve as Faith's Watcher, as well as report back to the Council about the situation in Sunnydale with Giles and Buffy. In addition, Gwendolyn has information regarding a demon named Lagos, who has come to Sunnydale in search of a deadly weapon called the Glove of Myhnegon. It's apparent from the start that Gwendolyn doesn't have a great deal of respect for Giles' abilities, as she mocks both his resources and his efficiency. After Faith leaves with her newly appointed Watcher, Buffy goes to the mansion for her own training session with Angel. In the heat of the moment, they nearly kiss before Buffy pulls back at the last second. As she leaves, Buffy casually mentions Lagos' name, which brings a look of concern to Angel's face.

Back at the library, Giles' frustration steadily grows due to his difficulty in finding any relevant information on Lagos. He vents that frustration on Xander, demanding that he either help with the research or leave. Xander joins an exhausted Willow in the search through the books, and they settle down behind one of the stacks. One thing leads to another, and Willow is soon madly kissing Xander. Completely lost in their passion, neither of them realizes that Giles is merely a few feet away. His voice breaks them out of their spell and brings them to their feet. Luckily, the librarian is too focused on the book in his hands to notice what Willow and Xander were doing. Giles tells them that he discovered the possible location of the Glove of Myhnegon: inside the Von Hauptman family crypt in Restfield Cemetery. Xander immediately volunteers to go to the cemetery and check out the crypt. Meanwhile, Buffy and Faith decide to call it a night and postpone the rest of their patrol through the numerous cemeteries of Sunnydale. While Buffy heads home to sleep, Faith passes through Shady Hill Cemetery, where she finds the demon Lagos rummaging through a tomb. Faith engages the demon, but she quickly ends up on her back with the wind knocked out of her. She can only watch as Lagos gives up his search through the tomb and walks away. Finding the glove is the only thing on Lagos' mind. Over at Restfield Cemetery, Xander arrives at the Von Hauptman crypt just in time to see somebody walking out of the entrance. To his surprise, Xander recognizes the person as Angel, who is carrying a wrapped object in his hands. Without being noticed, Xander follows Angel back to the Crawford Street mansion and witnesses yet another surprise through the window: Buffy, with her arms wrapped around Angel... kissing him. After Xander leaves, Buffy and Angel break their kiss and regain control of themselves. Angel brings Buffy over to the object which he took from the crypt, then unwraps it to reveal the Glove of Myhnegon. Angel stops Buffy from touching it, warning her that the glove cannot be removed once you put it on. At Giles' apartment, Gwendolyn Post relaxes while Giles locates an illustration of the Glove of Myhnegon in one of his books. As they take a tea break, Xander bursts in with an urgent announcement concerning Buffy for Giles' ears only.

Buffy enters the library the next morning with good news about the glove, only to find Giles and all of her friends sitting around the table with serious looks on their faces. After she sits down, Giles tells her that her secret about Angel is officially out in the open. Buffy tries to defend her stance, emphasizing the fact that Angel is no longer the uncontrollable murderer that he became after his fateful "moment of happiness". However, her friends refuse to accept Buffy's excuses, especially Xander. Fed up with his accusations, Buffy grabs Xander by the arm and questions his motives for wanting Angel dead. Giles stops the debate and sends everybody back to class before things get out of hand. Buffy follows her Watcher into his office and reassures him that Angel got the glove before Lagos could find it. Giles, however, doesn't want to hear any more of Buffy's excuses. He reminds her of how Angel tortured him months ago. Giles then acknowledges the fact that Buffy was wrong to keep Angel's return a secret from her Watcher, and she has gravely disrespected him by doing so. Meanwhile, Gwendolyn pays a visit to Faith's place. While assuring Faith that her intentions are pure, Gwendolyn alludes to Giles' secret meeting with Buffy and her friends. Faith is not pleased to be left out of that equation. Back at Sunnydale High, Buffy finds Willow at her locker and asks if everything's all right between them. Preoccupied with her own secret, Willow does not hesitate to pardon Buffy for keeping Angel's return under wraps. Buffy then tells her friend that she plans to wait in front of the Von Hauptman crypt and kill Lagos when he arrives.

Later that night, Faith finds Xander at the Bronze, shooting pool by himself. Xander fills Faith in on the news that Angel's back in town, the Glove of Myhnegon is in his possession, and Buffy has no problems with any of this. Faith decides to kill Angel, and Xander is eager to tag along. As they head towards the library, Gwendolyn enters Giles' office and finds out that the Glove of Myhnegon has been found and is currently in the mansion on Crawford Street. Giles then surprises her with a spell he discovered that can destroy the glove. The spell creates a living flame, which can incinerate the Glove of Myhnegon. After Giles turns around, Gwendolyn picks up a statue and bashes him in the head twice, sending him to the floor, unconscious and bleeding. At Restfield Cemetery, Willow is about to divulge her secret to Buffy about her new relationship with Xander when Lagos suddenly appears. After a rough fight, Buffy grabs the axe from Lagos' back and uses it to chop his head off. As they head back to the library, Faith and Xander arrive to collect a few weapons from the armory in the bookcage. On their way out, Xander hears a moan coming from Giles' office. He finds Giles on the floor, quickly losing a lot of blood. Faith believes Angel did this, but Xander points out the lack of bite marks. Faith doesn't care about that detail, and she leaves for the mansion while Xander calls for an ambulance.

Aware of the method for destroying the glove, Angel completes the spell for the living flame. He then turns around to see that Gwendolyn Post has entered the room. She concocts a lie to convince Angel that the living flame can strengthen the glove if the spell was miscast. As Angel turns his back to her, Gwendolyn picks up a shovel and strikes the back of the vampire's head, knocking him to the floor. Meanwhile, Buffy and Willow arrive at the library, where paramedics are in the process of bringing Giles out to the ambulance. Before he is taken away, Giles tells Buffy that she must destroy the glove with living flame. Xander tells Buffy that Faith is already on her way to the mansion, convinced that Angel needs to die. Buffy tells Willow to find the spell for the living flame, then dashes towards the mansion, where Gwendolyn is trying to open the locked chest which contains the glove. Back at the library, Xander and Willow finish the preparations for the spell and head to the mansion. Before Gwendolyn can open the chest, Angel hops to his feet, his face morphed to its vampire state. Gwendolyn breaks the shovel handle in half and tries to stake Angel, but he easily knocks the weapon away and throws Gwendolyn into the wall. As he moves in to grab her, Faith arrives and sees her new Watcher about to be murdered by a vampire. Faith overwhelms Angel and is about to finish the job when Buffy arrives and stops the stake's descent. Buffy tries to convince Faith that Angel is not the enemy, but Gwendolyn urges her Slayer to do her job. Faith and Buffy begin to fight each other. Their battle takes them crashing through a window and into one of the outside courtyards. Xander and Willow arrive in the midst of the fight. Xander tries to stop them, but Faith tosses him aside and continues the fight. Using the Slayers' distraction to her advantage, Gwendolyn opens the chest and pulls out the glove and knocks Willow to the floor with it, then puts on the Glove of Myhnegon, which latches itself to her arm. As she raises the glove above her head and chants in Gaelic, thunder begins to rumble over the mansion. The loud thunder stops Buffy and Faith, and they turn their attention towards Gwendolyn. As they watch on, Gwendolyn screams a command which causes lightning to strike the glove from the sky, then fly out from the glove towards its target. Buffy and Faith dodge the blast, but just barely. As Willow gets up from the floor, Gwendolyn turns and fires a lightning bolt in her direction. Angel runs in and pushes Willow out of the way of the bolt. Faith runs around the room to draw her fire away from Buffy, who picks up a shard of the broken window and throws it at Gwendolyn's gloved arm. The glass cuts right through her arm, causing it to fall to the floor by Gwendolyn's feet. The dismemberment causes the glove to fire again, but since it is now beneath her, the lightning flies down from the sky and strikes Gwendolyn, burning her into oblivion.

The next morning, Oz, Willow, Xander, and Cordy talk in the lounge about Buffy and Angel, as well as destroying the Glove of Myhnegon with the living flame. Xander concedes that having Angel around again will be fine as long as Buffy doesn't repeat the same mistakes that led to the lifting of the curse. Buffy arrives and makes peace with Xander. Giles then walks into the lounge and tells the group that Gwendolyn Post was kicked out by the Watchers' Council a couple years ago. After school, Buffy visits Faith's place. She tells Faith to not worry about trusting her, but Faith still feels betrayed and is not in the mood for conversation. As Buffy turns to leave, Faith begins to tell her something, but decides to keep it to herself for now.

Revelations is a cracking episode, and one that I still think gets lost in the great episodes of this TV series. I love Angel's reveal and Buffy being thrown on the spot in quite an uncomfortable way. You can understand her perspective, but it's still difficult and unpleasant to watch. This also triggers Buffy's first tensions with Faith. Again, completely understand Faith's perspective here, but given that we've followed Buffy's story, we're obviously rooting for her through the episode. With this episode, we obviously have Xander being a dick again which is of course a huge turn off in itself and one that makes me angry through the episode.

Rating - 100% - A+

3x08 - Lovers Walk

WARNING: "Summary" spoilers below
Buffy Summers surprises her friends with her S.A.T. scores, which are a combined total of 1430. While everybody is fairly excited by this news, Buffy herself is more concerned with the fact that she may have to consider her future more seriously. Later that night, a car runs over the welcome sign at Sunnydale's city limits. Completely drunk, a familiar figure tumbles out of the driver's side door: Spike. Spike heads to the burnt-out factory where he originally stayed with Drusilla before Giles' invasion forced them to leave. Spike laments over his recent break-up with Dru as he smashes one of her old dolls.

The next morning, Xander convinces Cordelia to join Oz and Willow on a double date at the bowling alley. Xander notices that Cordy has taped pictures of herself and Xander, along with Oz and Willow, to the inside of her locker door. After confirming the plans, Oz follows Willow to her locker and gives her a pez dispenser with a witch's head on it as an impromptu gift. Overcome with guilt, Willow confronts Xander outside and tries to convince him that the double date is a bad idea. In the library, Giles admires Buffy's S.A.T. scores while he finishes packing for a retreat at Breaker's Woods. Buffy mentions her mother's enthusiasm and encouragement to apply to major colleges across the country. Giles agrees that Buffy should take advantage of this opportunity, while Faith could keep an eye on Sunnydale. Elsewhere, the deputy mayor informs Mayor Wilkins that Spike is back in town. Mayor Wilkins agrees with his suggestion that they get Mr. Trick to send a vampire committee to take care of Spike. Later, after school, Buffy and Joyce discuss college plans. Joyce continuously mentions out-of-state universities. Meanwhile, Spike goes to the Crawford Street mansion and spies on Angel, who is reading a book inside. Still drunk, Spike passes out on the floor of the garden.

As the sun rises the next morning, Spike is abruptly woken up by the sight and pain of his burning hand, which has been ignited by the sunlight. He goes to a local magic shop in search of a curse to cast on Angel. Spike hides as Willow enters. He looks on as Willow buys a few ingredients for a de-lusting spell, which she hopes will put an end to her affair with Xander. After Willow leaves, Spike feeds on the shopkeeper and formulates a new plan to get what he wants. At the mansion, Angel tells Buffy that she should look into college. This causes Buffy to leave early. Later that night, Xander finds Willow working on some sort of experiment in the science lab. While they wait for Cordelia and Oz to meet them there for the double date, Xander realizes that Willow is actually performing a spell. She tells him about the nature of the spell, and Xander is not pleased with Willow's preferred method of dealing with their situation. Suddenly, Spike appears to kidnap Willow. While Xander fights Spike, Willow attempts to hit the vampire with a heavy object. Spike grabs it out of Willow's hands and strikes Xander directly in the head, knocking him out. Willow and Xander are then brought to the factory and locked in the basement. While Xander lays on a bed, unconscious and bloody, Spike demands Willow to perform a love spell that will bring Drusilla back to him. Willow tells Spike that she still needs a few additional ingredients and the right spell book. Back at Sunnydale High, Cordy and Oz barge into the library where Buffy is training. Worried about Xander and Willow's absence, they take Buffy to the science lab and show her the aftermath of the fight. Buffy sends them to find Giles at his retreat while she goes back to the library to properly equip herself for the search. Before Buffy can enter the bookcage, the phone rings. It's Joyce, and as Buffy listens, Spike enters the Summers' home. As soon as Buffy hears the familiar voice, she drops the phone and runs home as fast as she can.

Joyce makes a couple cups of coffee while Spike tells her his sob story about what happened between himself and Drusilla. Outside, Angel approaches the house. He sees Spike sitting at the kitchen counter with Joyce and tries to run into the house, but can't do so without an invitation. Joyce is terrified to see Angel again, unaware that the real enemy is standing right behind her. Distracted, Spike doesn't even notice Buffy's entrance as she grabs him from behind and pins him to the counter. Joyce watches in confusion while Buffy invites Angel into the house to help with Spike. Spike tells them what he's done with Willow and Xander, but he doesn't say where they are. Buffy and Angel reluctantly agree to help Spike get what he needs for the love spell in exchange for her friends' safety. Meanwhile, Oz picks up Willow's scent, so he cancels the drive to Breaker's Woods and tries to find Willow and Xander instead. Cordelia is not too comfortable with the fact that Oz still has a few latent werewolf abilities even when it's not that time of the month. Buffy and Angel follow Spike to the magic shop to get the ingredients. While there, Spike mocks Buffy and Angel's attempt to be nothing more than friends. Spike insists that they will forever be in love with each other, just like he is with Dru. At the factory, Xander finally comes to and learns from Willow everything that's happened. Realizing that their situation is seemingly hopeless, Xander and Willow lay on the bed and kiss, unaware of the fact that Oz and Cordelia have just arrived to rescue them. Nobody can believe what they're seeing, and Cordy takes it the hardest. As she runs back up the stairs, one of the deteriorated steps crumbles. Cordy falls through the hole to the hard floor below. When Xander looks down through the hole, he sees that Cordy is impaled on a steel rod, which is sticking up from her torso.

After gathering all of the ingredients, Spike, Buffy, and Angel run into a large group of vampires outside of the magic shop. One of the group's head vampires, Lenny, is not too pleased with Spike's return to Sunnydale. A huge battle erupts on the street. Outnumbered, the three retreat into the magic shop and seal off the entrances. They miss one of the doors in the back, which is soon opened by the invading vampires. As the battle spills into the magic shop, Spike drives a stake through Lenny's heart, reducing him to dust. More vampires bust through the window, but they are quickly thwarted off by the vials of holy water thrown by Buffy and Angel. Spike is thoroughly satisfied with the emotional rush from the battle, and decides to forget about the love spell and win Drusilla back by being his old self. Spike tells them that Willow and Xander are at the factory, then leaves. Meanwhile, at the factory, Xander climbs down to the injured Cordelia while Oz leaves to get help. Luckily, none of Cordy's organs were punctured by the rod, but her distress over Xander's betrayal is beyond repair. While Buffy comforts Willow about the whole situation, Xander tries his own luck at the hospital where Cordy is recovering. He brings her flowers and tries to apologize, but Cordy simply tells Xander to stay away. Later, Buffy goes to the mansion and tells Angel that she won't visit him anymore. Buffy can't get out of her mind what Spike said about the two of them, so she decides to break off her contact with Angel. While everybody somberly reflects to themselves about what happened during the past few days, a jubilant Spike leaves Sunnydale once again.

This episode is good, but not great. I dig the return of Spike and he works well in the episode, loving the fact that we're being introduced to his persona later on in the series. While being villainous, but not outright evil like before. The magic hasn't gone away and James Masters is excellent as always. Willow & Xander's affair is also revealed and it has consequences on the dynamic of the group. It's sad to watch, especially for Cordelia.

But overall, I found the episode more fun and laid back to watch.

Rating - 86% - A-

3X09 - The Wish

WARNING: "Summary" spoilers below
Ridding Sunnydale of one slimy demon provides little distraction for Buffy, Xander, and Willow, who are still coping with the aftermath of their relationship woes. Cordy is taking it the hardest, ignoring the vast amount of answering machine messages left by Xander while burning all the pictures of her ex-boyfriend.

The next morning, Willow tries once again to patch up her relationship with Oz. Unfortunately, he needs some space and time to make any decisions on the matter. Cordelia arrives at school dressed to kill, but she soon learns that all of her old friends still have no respect for her, even after Xander Harris has left the picture. Harmony introduces Cordy to Anya, a new girl in town, before harshly insulting her former best friend. Anya takes an immediate interest in Cordy's personal troubles. Later that night, Cordy and Anya go to the Bronze, where Xander is also in attendance, along with Buffy and Willow. After getting up to fetch a few drinks, Buffy notices Cordy abruptly exiting, so she follows her into the alley. Before Buffy can get Cordelia to open up and vent her problems, a vampire intervenes. The ensuing fight sends Cordy into a nearby pile of trash. With the last straw exposed, Cordelia identifies Buffy as the source of all of her troubles. As she explains to Anya the next day, none of the bad things in Cordy's life would have ever happened if Buffy never came to Sunnydale. Anya removes her necklace and places it around Cordy's neck. Cordy declares her wish that Buffy never made that fateful trip. At this point, Anya reveals herself to be not quite human and says, "Done." A bright light flashes, and suddenly the Sunnydale High campus is much less crowded than it was a moment ago. Cordelia quickly realizes that Anya must have granted her wish. However, this new version of Sunnydale is not as ideal as she imagined it would be. There's a city curfew that coincides with sunset. The Bronze is no longer the place to be at night. And Xander and Willow, as Harmony tells her, are dead.

Night falls as Cordelia wanders the deserted streets of Sunnydale. She encounters Xander and tells him that they have to get Buffy. Willow arrives, and Cordy learns that they are now vampires. Before Xander can kill her, a familiar van pulls up to the scene of the inevitable crime. Giles gets out, warding Xander and Willow off with a cross. Behind him, Oz sits in the driver's seat with a crossbow aimed at the vamps. Larry and a girl named Nancy get out of the van and pull Cordy to safety. Giles gets back inside, and the van takes off. Cordelia is brought to the library, which serves as the main base for the resistance against the vampires. Meanwhile, Xander and Willow return to the Bronze, which is now the headquarters for The Master and his minions. The Master orders Xander and Willow to kill Cordelia before she can contact the Slayer and interfere with his latest scheme. Back at the library, Cordy finally comes to and tells Giles about her wish and that they need Buffy. Unfortunately, neither of them realize that Xander and Willow have infiltrated the library. Locked inside the bookcage, Giles can only hopelessly watch as Xander and Willow sink their fangs into Cordelia, draining her of all of her blood. After the vampires leave, Giles uses an axe from his weapons cabinet to bust open the cage. Larry and Oz arrive, informing Giles that Nancy is now dead. As they Pick up Cordy's lifeless body to bring to the incinerator, Giles notices her necklace and removes it.

The next morning, Willow plays around with Angel, who the Master has locked up in the basement of the Bronze as punishment. At the library, Giles discovers through his books that the necklace represents Anyanka, the "Patron Saint of Scorned Women". He realizes that Anyanka must have granted a wish that Cordy made which resulted in the world they're living in right now. Giles calls Buffy's Watcher in Cleveland and leaves a message. While driving down the streets later that night, Giles sees some vampires packing a group of humans into the back of a truck. He wards them off with the cross, enabling the humans to escape. However, he is knocked down from behind. Before the vampires can finish him, another challenger enters the fray. Giles watches the vampires face defeat at the hands of this newcomer, then realizes that this new girl is the one and only Buffy Summers. After taking her back to his apartment, Giles informs her of what he's learned concerning Anyanka. In order to reverse all of her wishes and render her powerless, Anyanka's powercenter must be destroyed. Buffy is clearly uninterested in this, and is more concerned with taking out the Master.

Buffy goes to the Bronze, which is now deserted. In the basement, she finds Angel locked up behind bars. While she doesn't recognize him, Angel knows exactly who she is from all the time he spent secretly observing her in Los Angeles. Angel leads Buffy to a factory where the Master has unveiled a machine that will revolutionize the lifestyle of vampires everywhere. This device can drain a person's body of all of its blood and dispense it into glasses and cups in mere seconds. Buffy and Angel step in to put a stop to the festivities. While Buffy fights the vampires head-on, Angel frees the human prisoners. In the course of the battle, Angel, Xander, and Willow are dusted. While Buffy continues to fight, Giles summons Anyanka and identifies her glowing necklace as her powercenter. As he rips it from her neck and prepares to smash it, the Master overpowers Buffy and snaps her neck, fulfilling the prophecy in the Pergamum Codex in this reality as well. Giles smashes the necklace, and suddenly Cordelia is standing in front of Anya again. Anya realizes that she is no longer able to grant Cordy's wish. As Cordy walks off, she passes by Buffy, Xander, and Willow, who are still alive and well.

The episode continues the fallout from the last episode, particulary with the Xander/Willow story. Oz being Oz just keeps quiet and his distance, where as Cordy goes very radical and well, Cordy over it which is the catalyst of the episode. This episode features the debut of Anya and she makes a good first impression, and one to keep an eye on in the future.

The Alternate World idea is a good one and I love seeing characters like The Master again as well as the What If scenario around Sunnydale. It's brutal, gritty and hell on earth. I really like the twist in the characters as well as where it all culminated to. My only complaint could be that the episode could've been much more exciting to watch, as well as a better payoff.

Rating - 88% - A-

3x10 - Amends

WARNING: "Summary" spoilers below
As Christmas draws near, Angel begins to relive in his dreams the numerous murders he has committed. One of his victims was a young man named Daniel, whom Angel killed in Dublin in 1818. Unable to stay in bed any longer, Angel ventures out onto the streets of Sunnydale and runs into Buffy, who's doing some last-minute Christmas shopping. Angel's attention is soon diverted from Buffy to a familiar face in the distance. Impossible as it may seem, Angel recognizes this person as Daniel, the same man he killed 180 years ago.

After Buffy tells her friends about her encounter with Angel the next day at school, Oz finally decides to give Willow a second chance at their relationship. Later that night, Buffy and Joyce shop for a Christmas tree. While looking around, Joyce suggests that Buffy invite Faith to their place on Christmas Eve. Buffy notices a small group of dead trees that the salesman can't explain. At the motel, Faith turns down Buffy's invitation, explaining that she already has plans to attend a party. Meanwhile, Angel shows up at Giles' doorstep in need of help. Giles invites him in, but not before he grabs a crossbow to protect himself with. Angel wants to find out how and why he returned to Earth, but he is soon distracted by the presence of Jenny Calendar in the apartment. She is invisible to Giles, which adds to his confusion when Angel suddenly runs out the door. Back at the mansion, Angel dreams about another moment in time when he took the life of a servant named Margaret. After drinking her blood, Angel looks up to see Buffy watching the whole event. Angel suddenly wakes up... as does Buffy.

Inside the mansion, Angel is haunted by Jenny, Daniel, Margaret, and visions of his many other victims. Buffy, meanwhile, tells Giles that she shared Angel's dream the previous night. They decide to do some research in hopes of discovering the reason for Angel's return to Earth. Xander and Willow show up shortly to aid in the research. After a while, both Buffy and Angel fall asleep and share another dream in which they make love in Buffy's bedroom. Their romantic moment is interrupted by the vision of a man with no eyes. Before Buffy can figure out what's going on, Angel bites into Buffy's neck, effectively waking both of them up from their slumbers. Angel listens to Jenny as she tries to convince him that losing his soul with Buffy again and killing her will bring him the peace he desires. Giles shows an illustration of three men with no eyes to Buffy, who recognizes the face from her most recent dream. Called the Bringers, or Harbingers, these high priests can summon The First. As Giles explains, The First is the name given to Absolute Evil. Since it is not a physical being, Buffy cannot fight it. Buffy and Xander visit Willy's bar, hoping to get some information on the whereabouts of the Bringers. All they learn is that the Bringers might be underground. Xander decides that they should go home and enjoy Christmas Eve before resuming their search.

With her parents out of town for the evening, Willow invites Oz over to her home to watch a few movies. When Oz arrives, he soon realizes that Willow has made a small change of plans. Willow tells him that she's ready to sleep with him, but Oz knows that she's only doing this as an extreme means of redemption. He turns down Willow's offer, preferring to spend the night in a simpler way, like kissing on the couch. Meanwhile, Faith shows up at the Summers' front porch. Explaining that she thought twice about the party, Faith gives a couple gifts to Buffy and Joyce. While Faith settles in, Buffy goes upstairs to her bedroom to fetch their presents. She is surprised to find Angel in her bedroom. However, he's a little out of it at this point, staring longingly at her neck. Jenny stands behind Buffy, urging Angel to take the final plunge, both symbolically and literally. Angel can't go through with it, and he dives through Buffy's window. Back at the mansion, Angel tells Jenny that he will end his own life, using the deadly rays of the sun to do the deed. After entrusting Faith with her mother's safety, Buffy goes to Giles' apartment in an attempt to find out where the Bringers are. One of Giles' books contains a passage that indicates the inability of life to grow above or below the Bringers. This leads Buffy back to the suspicious group of dead trees she noticed a while ago. Using an axe, Buffy breaks open a hole in the ground that she immediately enters. Underground, Buffy finds the Bringers and makes short work of them with the axe. However, Buffy isn't prepared to see the figure of Jenny Calendar standing before her. Buffy listens as the vision of Jenny speaks for The First, boasting its legendary might. Buffy has no time to entertain The First, which tells her that Angel will die by sunrise. Buffy runs back to the mansion to find Angel, but he is no longer there. She finally locates him at the top of a hill which overlooks Sunnydale. Buffy tries to get Angel indoors before sunrise, but Angel won't budge. He tells her that he can't go on living, knowing that his very existence presents a threat to the woman he loves so dearly. Buffy refuses to agree, expressing her love for Angel and the self-hatred that goes along with it. Their stand-off is unexpectedly interrupted by several flakes of snow falling from the sky. Soon enough, a steady snowfall envelops Sunnydale for the first time ever, preventing the sun's rays from reaching the ground below and ending Angel's life. Nobody can explain it, but that doesn't matter to Buffy and Angel. Some higher power, whomever or whatever it may be, has given Angel yet another lease on life... on Christmas, no less.

This episode gives us the first introduction of the First Evil, a crucial character that'll be important later on in the story. It's almost impossible to kill or fight, as its evil before evil existed. I like how it can be anyone that's dead, and can get into people's heads so easily with very little effort. This leaves Angel in a bit of a mess, threatening to kill himself as a result. Some great performances by David Boreanaz & Sarah Michelle Gellar here, culminating in a scene with a peak view of Sunnydale. I also love the christmas themed element of the episode, something Buffy doesn't tend to do that often.

Rating - 81% - A-

3x11 - Gingerbread

WARNING: "Summary" spoilers below
On a typical night of patrol and slaying, Buffy's routine is unexpectedly interrupted by the arrival of her mother. Joyce feels that it's time to get a better understanding of her daughter's world by watching Buffy in action. Almost as soon as Joyce arrives, a vampire enters the scene. After Buffy chases him into the thick of the woods, Joyce discovers the bodies of two dead children, one boy and one girl, at a nearby playground. A strange symbol has been enscribed in the palms of their hands. While the police investigate the crime scene, Buffy tries to console her distraught mother.

Buffy tells Giles about the murdered children in the library the next morning. She sketches the symbol she noticed on their palms and shows it to Giles, who believes it implies the handiwork of a cult. Buffy cannot believe that humans are responsible for this as opposed to demons. At lunch, nobody notices Joyce walking into the cafeteria and straight to the gang's table. Buffy excuses herself and takes her mom into the hallway. Joyce tells her daughter that she's organized a meeting at City Hall for that night to discuss the murder. Dozens of parents attend, including Sheila Rosenberg, Willow's mother. Willow can't believe she's there, considering the fact that they barely communicate with each other. After the Mayor delivers a textbook speech to the crowd, he invites Joyce to the stand to lead them in a moment of silence. Instead, Joyce proposes a call to action, declaring an end to the city's silence concerning the ubiquitous dangers that plague Sunnydale. Later that night, Willow, Amy, and their friend Michael gather together to explore their world of the black arts. On the floor beneath them is the very same symbol that appeared on the two dead children.
At school the next morning, a group of students harass Michael by his locker, stating their belief that witches were responsible for the children's murder. Amy tries to fend them off, but it's Buffy who gets them to back off. Giles finds Buffy and tells her that witches may in fact be the prime suspects. The book that Giles needs to research this further was checked out by Willow, so he asks Buffy to get it for him. Buffy finds Xander sitting in the lounge, who points out Willow's stuff.

As she picks up the book, Buffy notices the symbol drawn on Willow's notebook. She asks Willow to explain it, but their conversation is cut short by the sudden commotion in the hallways. Under Principal Synder's supervision, the local police inspect each and every locker, looking for any signs of materials pertaining to witchcraft. After Amy is escorted to the office, Willow tells Buffy that the symbol is for a protection spell that she wanted to cast for Buffy's upcoming birthday. In other words, the symbol and what it stands for are completely harmless. At that moment, the cops open Willow's locker and ask her to come with them. Buffy runs to the library and discovers a similar scene. As the cops pack up all of Giles' books concerning the supernatural, Buffy tells him about the misleading symbol.

Later that night, Buffy argues with her mother, who is the founder of MOO (Mothers Opposed to the Occult). Buffy insists that this matter be dealt with by the Slayer. However, Joyce doesn't believe that Buffy's work is making Sunnydale any better. After Buffy takes off, the two deceased children appear in the kitchen... very much alive. Joyce listens to them intently as they beg her to make their murderers suffer. Meanwhile, Sheila grounds Willow for getting into trouble at school. She orders her daughter to stay in her room for the rest of the night.

At the park, Angel finds Buffy standing by the scene of the crime, which is now decorated with flowers, candles, and pictures of the children from a time when they were still alive. Buffy has not forgotten her mother's criticism of the Slayer's effectiveness. Angel reassures Buffy that her destiny is not in vain. During their conversation, Angel inadvertently alerts Buffy to a mystery concerning the two children. She heads to the library and finds Giles, Xander, and Oz trying to find any useful information on the internet. Buffy shares her realization that nobody seems to know anything about the two children, including their names or where they came from, and yet their pictures were somehow available for use in MOO's campaign. Oz sends an instant message to Willow, who then begins to search the web for any files or articles relating to the two children. Apparently, the dead bodies of these same two children have been repeatedly discovered once every fifty years, dating all the way back to 1649. The oldest article identifies them as Hans and Greta Strauss. Unfortunately, Sheila cuts off Willow's computer access at this moment, forcing Giles and the gang to figure the rest out on their own. Giles recalls a theory that many fairy tales are based on actual accounts of the supernatural. Buffy fills in the blanks, recalling the story of Hansel and Gretel, who must have been based on Hans and Greta. Suddenly, Michael bursts into the library and tells everybody that he was attacked by his own family. He also informs them that Amy was taken from her home. Xander and Oz head towards Willow's house while Buffy and Giles race back to the Summers home to warn everybody. Back at the Rosenberg's, Willow answers the knocking at her door and finds her mother... along with a group of angry parents who want nothing but her death. Meanwhile, Buffy and Giles interrupt another MOO meeting. As they take Joyce into the foyer to speak with her alone, the rest of the group sneak up from behind and knock Giles unconscious. Joyce does the same to Buffy with the help of some chloroform.

Buffy, Willow, and Amy are tied to large stakes in City Hall, ready to be burned for the crimes they've been accused of. Willow and Amy unsuccessfully struggle with their restraints, while Buffy remains unconscious. Meanwhile, Xander and Oz burst into Willow's room, which was left a total mess in the wake of the angry parents. As they leave for City Hall, Giles is awoken by an impatient Cordelia, who came to the house to find out what was going on. They hurry to Giles' car and speed towards City Hall. During the drive, Giles has Cordy mix together the ingredients for a spell while he tries to recall the incantation from memory. Back at City Hall, Buffy finally regains consciousness and realizes the situation she's in. Joyce refuses to listen to her daughter's pleas. Amy escapes danger by transforming herself into a rat and bolting out of the room, but Willow and Buffy are still moments away from a fiery death. Just as the fire is about to engulf Buffy and Willow, Giles and Cordy burst into the room. While Cordy extinguishes the fire, Giles casts the spell on the two children, who then combine and change into the true form of a tall, hideous demon. As the parents realize the deception and try to escape, Xander and Oz approach the scene via a ventilation shaft above the ceiling. Without the help of the parents, the demon attempts to kill Buffy and Willow directly and charges them. Buffy breaks the stake she's been tied to in half and leans forward -- just in time to impale the demon. The silence that follows is soon interrupted by the sight and sound of Xander and Oz falling down through a weak spot in the ceiling and crashing down onto the floor.

A while after their near-death experience, Buffy and Willow discuss Sheila Rosenberg's convenient memory loss concerning the demon, just like the way Joyce Summers' memory used to operate before learning that her daughter was the Slayer. Willow then makes another attempt at restoring the Amy rat to human form. Unfortunately, Willow is going to need a little more practice before she can pull this one off.

This episode is lackluster compared to the other episodes in Season 3 so far. It repels back to the Monster Of The Week format which sometimes wared the show down in its early seasons. And while this idea isn't the worst, its certainly not one that'll be remembered anytime soon. The Witches & Hansel/Gretel idea is pretty neat and does offer a slightly creepy element to the story.

However there are problems. I felt the lighting was a little off in this episode. Perhaps it tried to create an atmosphere that didn't need to be there. And the gag of Giles getting KOd starts now to get old and repetitive.

Overall, a weak episode in Season three, which has so far offered some very strong episodes.

Rating - 73% - B+

"Watch'you Talkin Bout Skywalker."
Buffy is my all time favorite show,cant wait
Loved me some Buffy back in the day. Especially the early seasons. Don't know why, just do. Hehee.

They had this horror series look & vibe about them. Although I loved the whole show in general and thought it was very creative.

I enjoyed Angel too, I think everyone was a bit tired of the whimpering Angel from the mid seasons. But he was an ultra popular character, so it was a natural conclusion he would probably get his own show. And it was really fun and entertaining. I would have liked to of seen more Vampire style fighting on either show instead of the television karate every episode, but I guess one could boil that down to budget. Still great memories for me.

3x12 - Helpless

WARNING: "Summary" spoilers below
After a training session in the mansion, Buffy and Angel get a little too close for comfort. With her eighteenth birthday almost upon her, Buffy is anxiously awaiting to spend some time with her father at an ice show. Later, at the library, Giles leads Buffy through a study of vibratory stones. Despite being a little fidgety, Buffy manages to concentrate on one of the stones. Afterwards, Buffy battles with a vampire in the park. Just as she is about to deliver the final blow, something surges through Buffy's body, and she suddenly finds herself powerless. The vampire quickly takes the upper hand, knocking her to the ground and turning the wooden stake on the Slayer herself. Buffy panicks, but she is still able to stun the vampire with a headbutt and push him off of her. She grabs the stake and aims it straight up as the vampire leaps onto her. In an instant, the vampire is nothing but dust.

Giles enters the library the next morning to find Buffy practicing her aim with throwing knives. As the random placing of the knives on and around the target shows, the Slayer is not herself. Giles ensures Buffy that she'll be okay. Outside, Buffy downplays her friends' enthusiasm over the upcoming birthday, suggesting that a party may not be the greatest of ideas, given her tainted history with such social gatherings. Later that night, Buffy notices a birthday balloon floating in her kitchen with what appear to be an envelope and tickets attached to the string. As Joyce informs her that Hank won't be able to free up enough time to take her to the ice show, Buffy folds up the envelope without even opening it. Meanwhile, three men are hard at work inside an old, abandoned boarding house. One of the men, Quentin Travers, looks on as his two associates, Blair and Hobson, work on laying bricks in several of the doorways. At the library, Buffy tries to indirectly ask Giles to take her to the ice show, but he is more interested in making her study the vibratory stones. After Buffy finally gives up her futile effort, Giles instructs her to concentrate on the fault inside the large blue stone. As Buffy stares at it, she suddenly loses all touch with the outside world. Giles checks to make sure Buffy's in a trance, then takes an injection kit out of his bag. He injects a strange, green fluid into Buffy's arm. After he finishes the task and puts away the kit, Giles waves his hand in front of the fault, breaking Buffy's trance. Unaware of what just happened, Buffy decides to call it a night and leaves Giles alone in the library.

Outside of school the next morning, Buffy notices a guy harassing Cordelia. Buffy walks up to the guy and grabs him by the arm. However, she suddenly realizes that she doesn't have enough strength to do anything to the guy, who casually shoves her to the ground with that one arm. Buffy finds Giles in the hallway and tells him about her disturbing loss of strength. Giles doesn't show a great deal of concern, although he definitely knows why Buffy is going through this. Giles speaks with Quentin at the boarding house, voicing his disagreement with the Watcher Council's insistence on subjecting Buffy to the Cruciamentum. The Cruciamentum is a test which all Slayers must endure when they reach the age of eighteen in order to prove their instinctual skills and resourcefulness. To do so, the Slayer must survive an encounter with a vicious vampire while trapped inside a small space. In this case, Buffy must defeat an insane vampire, Zackary Kralik, in the confines of this boarding house. After Giles leaves, a loud, painful scream emanates from Kralik's coffin. Blair and Hobson open the coffin and give Kralik his pills. Giles returns to the library, where Buffy, Willow, Xander, and Oz try to find any relevant info in the books that might explain her loss of power. While Buffy continues to search for answers, Kralik's screaming keeps Blair and Hobson from getting any rest. While Hobson takes a break, Blair opens the coffin to learn that Kralik wants more pills. As Blair goes to the kitchen to fill the glass with water, Kralik screams to cover up the sound of his straightjacket ripping at the seams. Kralik then tricks Blair into stepping close to the coffin and grabs him by the throat with his freed arm before sinking his fangs into his neck. At the mansion, Angel gives a book of poetry to Buffy for her birthday. Unfortunately, Buffy is distracted by her power loss to fully appreciate Angel's gift. Buffy fears that she may have lost what made her special. Angel consoles her by confessing that he watched her long before she moved to Sunnydale, admitting that he lived her then every bit as much as he does now. Meanwhile, Blair rises in front of Kralik as a newly-turned vampire. He picks up an axe and frees Kralik from his restraints.

Giles stops by the boarding house to check in on things, but nobody seems to be around. After noticing blood on the stairway railing, Giles grabs a make-shift stake and opens Kralik's tomb. Finding it empty, Giles goes to the kitchen and discovers Hobson's dead corpse. Overcome by the grotesque sight and smell, Giles runs out of the house. He needs to find Buffy, who is walking the streets alone. She runs into Kralik, who grabs her jacket. Unable to fight him as she normally would, Buffy turns and runs for her life. She tries to climb over, then under a fence. Blair shows up and tries to pull her back, but Buffy escapes and runs out into the middle of the street. Giles arrives just in time, and Buffy jumps into his car. Back at the library, Giles tells the whole truth to Buffy, showing her the syringe filled with an organic compound of muscle relaxants and adrenal suppressers. He informs her that the effects of the compound will wear off in a few days, but Buffy is too furious to care about that right now. Giles goes on to tell her that he just invalidated the test by telling her about it ahead of time. Unfortunately, Buffy refuses to listen or forgive him. As soon as Cordelia walks into the library to do some research for a paper, Buffy asks her for a ride home. While Cordelia drives Buffy home, Joyce hears a noise on her front porch. She goes out and sees Buffy's jacket draped over a figure. Assuming it's Buffy, she bends down towards the covered figure. However, it's not Buffy at all, but really Kralik. When Buffy arrives home, she finds a polaroid of her mother and Kralik. She packs a large amount of her slaying supplies into her bag and heads towards the mansion.

Tied to a chair and gagged, Joyce can do nothing but watch as Kralik takes countless polaroids of her while rambling about his hatred for mothers. Buffy walks in through the main entrance of the boarding house and looks around. As she realizes that all of the other exits have been sealed by bricks, Blair locks the main entrance, trapping the Slayer inside. Meanwhile, Quentin visits Giles at the library and tells him that the Cruciamentum has begun. Giles informs him that he disclosed all of the information concerning the test, but none of that matters right now. He leaves Quentin in the library and races towards the boarding house. Buffy encounters Kralik and tries to take him out with her crossbow, but it's no use. He chases Buffy through the house. She takes refuge inside a dark room. When she turns the light on, Buffy sees that the walls are completely plastered with photos of her helpless mother. She runs out of the room, and Kralik finally traps her in the hallway. Buffy attempts to ward him off with a cross, but Kralik is so insane that he actually enjoys the pain it causes. Before he can bite into her neck, Kralik is suddenly seized by his painful need to take his pills. He fishes the medicine bottle out of his pocket. Spotting an opportunity, Buffy grabs the bottle out of his hands and dives through a laundry chute. Landing in the basement, Buffy finds Joyce on the chair. When Kralik reaches the basement, Buffy tries to flee the scene with his pills. He rips the bottle out of her hands and quickly grabs the nearby glass of water. After swallowing the pills with the water, Kralik suddenly notices a burning sensation inside himself. Buffy holds out an empty bottle of Holy Water. The blessed water soon disintegrates Kralik. As Buffy works on freeing Joyce from the chair, both Giles and Blair crash into the basement. Giles finishes the vampire off, then leaves with Joyce and Buffy.

In the library, Quentin commends Buffy on her successful passing of the test. However, he has bad news for Giles. Since he has demonstrated a relationship with Buffy that the Council has deemed too close, like the way a father loves his daughter, Giles is relieved of his duties as Buffy's Watcher. Quentin then tells Buffy that she will be assigned a new Watcher soon. Struck by this revelation of how much Giles cares for her, Buffy calmly allows him to tend to her wounds. Back at home, Buffy's friends try to make sense of Giles' being fired... especially Willow, who almost refuses to believe the mere possibility of Giles losing his job.

This is one of those episodes that really puts Buffy in peril. Giles's betrayal of her is very dark and really shakes the relationship brewing over the three seasons quite massively. It leaves things very raw, very shaken, and you're left wondering if Buffy can ever truly trust Giles again. It also demonstrates just how cruel and heartless The Watchers Council are, and just how dark their methods are when dealing with The Slayer.

The villain in this episode is very scary, and one who is just plain psychotic and terrifying to watch unfold. It leaves Buffy vulnerable, quite possibly the most vulnerable so far in the series. The climax in the episode plays out like a horror film, with Buffy stuck in the house with the villain and to the point where it gets very tense.

Rating - 95% - A

Loved me some Buffy back in the day. Especially the early seasons. Don't know why, just do. Hehee.

They had this horror series look & vibe about them. Although I loved the whole show in general and thought it was very creative.

I enjoyed Angel too, I think everyone was a bit tired of the whimpering Angel from the mid seasons. But he was an ultra popular character, so it was a natural conclusion he would probably get his own show. And it was really fun and entertaining. I would have liked to of seen more Vampire style fighting on either show instead of the television karate every episode, but I guess one could boil that down to budget. Still great memories for me.

I don’t know why but I have this soft spot for Season 2. It’s probably because its the first Buffy season I saw and then went straight into Angel the spin off. I can’t wait to get into reviewing that.

The High School years were the best for the Horror vibe. The later seasons I think slipped up on that department, even if there are still some cracking episodes to come.

The fighting is what it is. Nothing really can’t be changed by that.

"Watch'you Talkin Bout Skywalker."
I donít know why but I have this soft spot for Season 2. Itís probably because its the first Buffy season I saw.
It might have been the first season I saw as well. I think I first saw Buffy on the tail end of season 1. Hard to remember.

The High School years were the best for the Horror vibe. The later seasons I think slipped up on that department, even if there are still some cracking episodes to come.
Now that I think about it, the high school yrs ( particularity S1&2 ) had that kinda of Goosebumps type style, that I thought was fantastic for the show as far as look and vibe. I'm sorry to see some of that go in the series.

As far as the stories go, those keep remaining great with many highlight episodes throughout the show's run. Although some might say the show got better as it went on. I'm on the fence about that, I loved some of those stories from the early seasons.

The fighting is what it is. Nothing really canít be changed by that.
Well, I was just saying, always found that kinda funny looking back. Still loved it regardless.

Actually that would have worked even better for Angel: the series if they could have pulled it off back in the day, but wire-work and those type of effects are very expensive for a teen show on the WB / UPN / CW network. As much as I liked Angel, I remember being a little disappointed at the fighting being mostly Buffy style karate instead of vampire-fantasy back in 99.

3x13 - The Zeppo

WARNING: "Summary" spoilers below
Combining their unique talents and efforts, Giles, Willow, Faith, and Buffy defeat a group of hideous, female demons. Xander, however, can only pick himself up from the ground and commend his partners on a job well done. The others agree that Xander should not be risking his life by constantly involving himself in the battles. Of course, Xander just doesn't want to be left out of the fun.

Outside of school the next morning, Xander accidentally upsets Jack O'Toole, the local psychopath. After successfully escaping the wrath of Jack, Xander runs into Cordelia. She delights in pointing out Xander's insignificance, seeing how all of his friends possess one special quality that makes them fit in. Xander, on the other hand, has nothing to warrant his involvement in the Slayer circle. Inside the library, Giles unloads some bad news on Buffy. Apparently, the demons they fought the previous night belong to an Apocalypse cult called the Sisterhood of Jhe. They intend to reopen the Hellmouth, and there's no telling how soon that event will occur. As for Xander, his main problem concerns finding a special "thing" to help him fit in. The only "thing" that Xander can come up with is a car, which he procures from his Uncle Roary. Unfortunately, this brings little joy to Buffy and Willow, who are preoccupied with the Sisterhood of Jhe's plan. Xander offers to help -- which only leads him to the local bakery to pick up some doughnuts. Outside the shop, a beautiful woman by the name of Lysette admires Xander's car. Dumbfounded by his luck, Xander offers to give her a ride. Their impromptu date soon becomes an abyss of boredom for Xander, who learns that Lysette's one and only interest is cars. When Angel enters the Bronze, Xander immediately showers him with warm greetings, desperately in need of an escape from his personal hell. Angel doesn't have time to help Xander, for he's more intent on finding Buffy and warning her about the upcoming danger. Buffy and Willow, meanwhile, come up empty-handed in the research department. Unable to find anybody on the Watcher Council willing to listen to him, Giles heads to the cemetery to contact the spirit guides for any help. Buffy goes to Willy's bar later, only to find the place trashed and the bartender bleeding on the floor. Willy warns Buffy that the Hellmouth will be opened before sunrise.

Upon leaving the Bronze, Xander has another run-in with Jack. This time, he carelessly crashes his car into another, from which Jack O'Toole emerges. Just before Jack ends Xander's all-too-short life with a really big knife, a police officer shows up. Instead of turning Jack in, Xander tells the cop that everything's fine. Impressed by this surprising turn of events, Jack invites Xander to hang out with him and his friends. Back in his car, Xander drives Jack and Lysette to the cemetery where they're supposed to meet up with Jack's friends. Unbeknownst to Xander and Lysette, Jack's friends have a slight case of death. Lysette screams and runs for her life after Jack uses a ritual to raise one of his friends, Bob, from his grave. While Jack raises two more guys, Xander spots Giles, who was unable to get any answers from the spirit guides. Xander offers his help again, but Giles advises him to stay out of it. Xander's new "friends" appoint him as their designated driver, then have him drive them to the hardware store. While they break in and loot the place, Xander sees Willow emerging from a magic shop with a bag full of ingredients. Once again, he asks if the gang needs any help, but Willow doesn't tell him what he wants to hear. After she leaves, Jack and his friends decide to initiate Xander into their group. However, the sole requirement for initiation is Xander's death. Xander argues that Jack isn't dead, who then proves him wrong by revealing the bullet holes in his abdomen. Fed up with this party, Xander makes a run for it, eluding the zombies quickly enough to get back in his car and speed away. After a short drive, Xander sees Faith battling another Sisterhood of Jhe member. Flooring the gas pedal, Xander rams his car into the demon, then takes off with Faith. They take refuge in her motel room, where Xander discovers that his night isn't over by a long shot. The victory-less battle has left Faith all worked up, and the only thing that can relax her is a physical encounter of a completely different kind. After shedding their clothes, Faith does the deed with Xander in bed... then kicks him out of the place as soon as they finish.

Xander notices that the bags left in the back seat of his car contain ingredients for a bomb. He speeds back to the hardware store to Jack and the zombie gang, but they're are long gone. Unsure of what to do next, he seeks out Buffy for help. Xander finds her at the mansion with Angel. Their heated discussion forces Xander to leave them alone and take care of matters by himself. Meanwhile, Willow relocates werewolf Oz, who broke out of his cage earlier and had to be tranquilized, to a safer part of the school. She then returns to the library to help Giles prepare a binding spell which might take care of the Hellmouth demon. Neither of them are aware of the four zombies in the boiler room beneath them. Jack's gang puts the finishing touches on the bomb and leaves. Xander sees them walking down the street. Needing answers fast, he pulls up between them and grabs one of the zombies before hitting the gas. He learns that the bomb is in the boiler room of Sunnydale High. Before Xander can get the info he needs to disarm the bomb, the zombie's head connects with a mailbox and instantaneously departs from its body. Xander reaches the school and runs inside, completely unaware that the rest of his friends are in a life-and-death battle with the Hellmouth demon in the library... again. The zombies pursue Xander, who succeeds in taking them out one by one. In the boiler room, Xander encounters a knife-wielding Jack, while the bomb timer reads two minutes and counting. Xander dares Jack to let the bomb explode and permanently end his days as one of the walking dead. Jack's not ready to give up his lifestyle just yet, so he disarms the bomb. After Xander leaves the boiler room, Jack has a fatal encounter with werewolf Oz.

The next morning, Buffy, Willow, and Giles look back on their epic battle, while Oz tries to figure out why he's so full. Cordelia makes her usual fun of Xander, but he now has a better outlook on his role in the grand scheme of things.

There's a good underlining theme of bullying in this story in which Xander doesn't have the courage to stand up to some pretty horrible people causing havoc in Sunnydale. It's nice to have a Xander centric story for once and give him some pride in the series after being sidelined from the rest of the group. I also loved the mystery of the other Scoobies battle and how it sounded more like a season finale type of situation. It was curious, and often interesting to only get snippets and nothing else.

Rating - 88% - A-

3x14 - Bad Girls

WARNING: "Summary" spoilers below
During a typical night of patrolling and slaying vampires, Buffy and Faith encounter a not-so-typical vampire wielding a pair of swords. They successfully reduce the vamp to dust, but Buffy and Faith soon realize that the two swords are nowhere to be seen. The swords have, in fact, been brought to Mayor Wilkins' office by Mr. Trick. After looking them over, Mayor reminds Mr. Trick and his deputy mayor, Allan Finch, of the upcoming dedication and the hundred days which will ultimately lead to the ascension.

The next morning, in the school lounge, Willow proudly shows her early admittance packets from several big-name universities to her friends. After hanging around for a bit, Buffy goes to the library, where she meets her new Watcher, Wesley Wyndam-Pryce. When asked about the previous night's patrol, Buffy describes the vampire packing the two swords. Wesley scans through his books and quickly locates some information on a fifteenth-century duelist cult called El Eliminati. They once worked for Balthazar, an ancient demon, before he was apparently killed. In order to explain their current presence in Sunnydale, Wesley theorizes that they may be looking for an amulet that has been hidden in the Gleaves family crypt. Just then, Faith arrives, meets Wesley, then immediately turns and leaves. After Buffy catches up with her, Faith tells her that they don't have to follow their new Watcher's orders. Later that night, Buffy searches through the tombs inside the Gleaves crypt. Just as she locates the amulet, she hears several voices approaching from outside. As Buffy hides in one of the other tombs, the Eliminati vampires enter the crypt and take the amulet. After they leave, Buffy gets out of the tomb and is shocked by Faith's unexpected arrival. They go after the vampires, following them underground. In the course of the battle, one of the vampires attempts to drown Buffy in a pool of water. Thinking he has succeeded, he releases his grip, giving Buffy all the opportunity she needs to spring back to her feet and take the amulet back from the vampires.

The next day in the library, Wesley inspects the amulet while Buffy heads to her chemistry class to take a test. The chem teacher, Mrs. Taggert, leaves her students alone in the classroom, expecting them to follow the honor system. Faith appears outside one of the windows and draws a heart with a stake piercing it, signaling Buffy's early departure. Willow and Xander try to keep their friend from leaving, but Buffy is gone in no time. Faith leads Buffy to a vampire nest, where they give the sleeping demons a rather rude wake-up call. Spirits high, Buffy and Faith head to the Bronze afterwards and tear up the dance floor. Angel arrives and pulls Buffy aside to warn her that Balthazar is still alive. When Wesley appears on the scene, Buffy takes the amulet from him and gives it to Angel for safe keeping. Later, at an abandoned warehouse, the Eliminati vampires listen to their master, Balthazar, who is a horrendously bloated demon sitting in a pool of water. Upset with one of his minions, Balthazar uses telekinesis to draw the vampire's helpless body closer. Balthazar then crushes the vampire's skull with his own two hands. Balthazar gives orders to his head minion, Vincent. Outside, Buffy and Faith spy on the gathering. In need of weaponry, Faith spots a hunting equipment shop that's closed for the night. Buffy follows as Faith breaks into the shop and proceeds to destroy some display cases containing weapons. Taking Faith's lead, Buffy obtains a dagger for herself. However, their shoplifting spree is cut short by a pair of cops with guns drawn. During the drive back to the police station, Faith talks Buffy into helping her kick the cage into the driver and his partner, causing the car to crash and enable their escape.

The next morning, Buffy checks the newspaper to see if her run-in with the law is mentioned anywhere. Meanwhile, Mayor Wilkins is attacked by Vincent in his own office. After Mr. Trick knocks the vampire out cold, Mayor Wilkins wonders how the vampire slipped past security. Instead of having the vampire killed, Mayor Wilkins orders Mr. Trick to lock him up. Later, Willow is disappointed to learn that Buffy's schedule doesn't include her. Faith arrives shortly to pick up Buffy, leaving Willow alone. At Giles' office, Wesley criticizes the former Watcher for his job performance with Buffy. Their argument doesn't go very far before Giles notices the sudden presence of several vampires outside the office. Elsewhere, Buffy and Faith head to the warehouse to take out Balthazar and his minions. On the way, they encounter several vampires and dust them, one by one. When a hand reaches out and grabs Buffy, Faith throws the guy against a dumpster and drives her stake towards his heart. Buffy realizes that this is no vampire, but it's too late as Faith's stake plunges into the heart of Deputy Mayor Allan Finch. Within seconds, Finch is dead. Deciding to flee from the scene, Faith and Buffy split up. Buffy runs into Angel, who notices the blood on her hands. They head towards the warehouse, where Giles and Wesley have been brought before the demon Balthazar. Wesley attempts to save his own neck by offering the man who has the amulet to Balthazar. Before any more information can be spilled, Angel and Buffy arrive and battle the vampires. Frustrated, Balthazar uses his telekinesis to bring Angel into his own hands. Thinking quick, Buffy spots a lamp hovering above the pool. She sends it falling into the water, electrocuting the obese demon. With his last breath, Balthazar warns Buffy that a greater enemy's ascension is at hand. While Buffy and the others puzzle over the meaning of Balthazar's dying words, Mayor Wilkins performs the dedication ritual in his office. After completing it, he orders Mr. Trick to release Vincent from his cage. Once freed, Vincent takes the sword and cleaves the mayor's head into two halves. Vincent then watches in shock as Mayor Wilkins' head reforms itself. Mr. Trick takes his cue and drives a stake into Vincent's heart. Mayor Wilkins is now invincible, and he will remain so for the hundred days leading to his ascension.

Buffy visits Faith's motel room the next morning to discuss their crime. Disturbed by Faith's apparent lack of guilt, Buffy tries to convince her that the victim's body will be found eventually. Faith tells Buffy that she returned to the scene of the crime and dumped the body.

A weaker episode, but still good overall. Perhaps its due to the quality of episodes so far that put this a little lower down. We got our first taste with Faith being evil and its pretty sinister stuff. Faith's brush with the dark side is very fitting and works well with where she's heading. The villains in this episode sadly aren't very memorable and are just there to serve purpose to Buffy & Faith. We do however get our first appearance of Wesley, who while played right now for comedic effect, will evolve into a much more complete character later down the line.

Rating - 77% - B+