Anya, last seen in The Wish, is trying to get her powers back. She used to be the demon Anyanka. She appeals to the demonic powers, but they refuse. She says she will find another source. We cut to Willow making a pencil spin in the air. She says it's all a matter of emotional control. Buffy is preparing for the watcher tests. She wants to do better than Faith. While Willow pretends not to be upset at the mention of Faith, the pencil whirls out of control and plunges into a tree.
Willow is in principal Snyder's office. He introduces her to Percy West, the school's outstanding athlete. Percy is flunking history. Snyder wants her to tutor him. She's not keen on the idea, but Snyder is very insistent. Willow sees his positiveness as a kind of threat, at least that's what she tells Buffy later as they go to the library. She says she hates the way Snyder bullies people, assuming their time is his to control. At that moment, Giles tells Willow he wants her to try breaking into the mayor's files again and Willow immediately agrees.
Faith comes in with an out of breath Wesley. In response to Giles' question, he says Faith was sloppy on the obstacle course. Faith is remarkably agreeable. Buffy goes to change before her test and Faith wishes her luck. When the others leave, Faith asks Willow what she's doing. When she finds out Willow is trying to get into the mayor's files, she tells the mayor. He's just rented her a luxurious apartment. He's keeping her old place as well, so she can meet Buffy and the others there. She's thrilled at the new place and calls the mayor sugar daddy. He rebuffs her, saying he's a family man. He then says they should kill Willow. But he doesn't ask Faith to do it, he thinks it's too early in the relationship for that. He says a vampire attack is a better idea.
Willow meets Oz in the hall. She's surprised to learn he was out of town with his band. She's upset he didn't tell her. She feels he thinks she's boring. He invites her to the Bronze that night to see them play, but she has too much homework. Outside, she meets Percy and tells him she wants to meet him at lunch and go over his plans for his Roosevelt paper. But Percy tells her to write it. He refuses to meet her and tells her to type it, making some mistakes so it looks authentic, and put his name on it. He says she doesn't have anything better to do. A depressed Willow decides to rebel by eating a banana, even though it isn't lunch time.
Buffy and Xander show up to ask if Willow taped Biography. She did and they comment on how reliable she is. This just sets her off. She storms off (actually it's more of stroll but she sees it as storming) informing them that she might surprise them one day. And that she intends to eat her banana even though it isn't lunch. On the stairs, she's stopped by Anya who asks her for help with a spell. Thrilled at some departure from the humdrum, she quickly agrees. Anya tells her she needs to fold time slightly. She claims this is to recover a family heirloom. As they perform the spell, Willow gets flashes from The Wish including the scene where the vampire Willow is just about to die. Only the vampire Willow disappears. Willow realizes something really bad is going on here and wants nothing to do with it. Anya thinks the spell failed, she was trying to recover the necklace Giles destroyed, and she's enraged when Willow leaves.
We cut to vampire Willow who has materialized in Willow's reality. And it seems really weird to her. She walks through the streets and is shocked by all the normal stuff happening. Like kids playing. We cut to the Bronze where Oz's band is playing. Vampire Willow enters and is accosted by Percy, who says she should be home writing his paper. Vampire Willow beats him up. Xander enters, thinks Percy is attacking Willow, and separates them. Percy runs away. Vampire Willow is thrilled to discover Xander is alive, then saddened to learn he really is alive. Buffy enters and is shocked to see the dominatrix garbed Willow. Vampire Willow remembers her and doesn't like her. She turns to leave. Buffy tries to stop her and vampire Willow reveals her vampire self. On the street, vampire Willow is attacked by the vampires sent by the mayor, mistaking her for Willow. She's a lot meaner than them and beats them up. They soon agree to follow her, not the mayor.
Buffy and Xander go to the library and tell Giles Willow is a vampire. They all blame themselves for this disaster. Then Willow walks in. When they realize she is alive, there is a lot of hugging. But they don't understand what is really happening. Meanwhile, at the Bronze, Anya is frustrated. She's a centuries old demon and she's being carded. Angel arrives and asks Oz if he's seen Buffy. Then a group of vampires, led by vampire Willow, enter. She's taking over the place. She plans to recreate the vampire dominated world of The Wish. Angel sneaks out to get Buffy and the others. Oz tries to stop vampire Willow, who doesn't understand why he thinks he's her friend. But Anya explains the two worlds issue to her. And she wants to help her get back to the vampire world. And get Anya back as well.
At the library, Angel comes in to tell them what happened and is stunned to see Willow. They realize they have to go to the Bronze and stop the slaughter. On the way out, Willow remembers something and returns to the library. Only vampire Willow is waiting for her. Anya told her Willow could return her to her world, and learning this Willow realizes what really happened when she helped Anya cast that spell, but vampire Willow isn't sure she wants to go. She likes the idea of vampirizing Willow and having two of her. Willow runs, gets the dart gun they've used to knock out Oz in the past and knocks out vampire Willow with it.
The gang lock vampire Willow up in the cage. Willow is shocked at how she looks as a vampire: evil, skanky and possibly gay. Buffy tells her a vampire's personality has nothing to do with the human who once possessed the body. Angel is about to disagree with her, but thinks better of it. They realize they have to go to the Bronze and stop the impending tragedy. Buffy has an idea, have Willow impersonate vampire Willow. At the Bronze, Willow is wearing vampire Willow's outfit and ready to go it. She will try to get some of the vampires to come out, evening the odds, and will signal if things get out of hand. The signal is a scream.
Willow enters and tells Anya that she killed Willow. She sends one of the vampires outside to check to see if anything is going on. As he steps out, Buffy stakes him. Willow says she killed Willow because she annoyed her. She also gives a secret signal to Oz. She sends another vampire out to check up on the first one. One of the vampires suggests that they should get on with the killing.
In the library, a very dressed up Cordelia arrives looking for Wesley. She sees Willow and is about to free her, but thinks better of it. She decides it's a good opportunity to talk to Willow about the ethics of boyfriend stealing. Meanwhile, at the Bronze, Willow is trying to stop the killing. She suggests letting everyone go and giving them a headstart to make it more sporting. Anya becomes suspicious. Willow says start the killing with Anya. Back at the library vampire Willow is bored to yet another death by Cordelia's lecture. Cordelia is trying to explain that she never liked Xander, they were merely drawn together by the life and death situations they kept finding themselves in. Vampire Willow apologizes and Cordelia finally lets her out. She immediately puts on her vampire face and gets ready to kill Cordelia. Cordelia runs. Vampire Willow corners her but Wesley shows up and drives her off. Cordelia hugs him. He realizes it was Willow and that she is a vampire. After a second of sorrow, Cordelia asks if he has plans for the evening.
At the Bronze, Anya is ready to give up on getting her powers back. She just wants Willow dead. Willow screams. Buffy and the others come bursting in and a fight ensues. Anya tries to escape but Willow punches her, hurting her hand. Vampire Willow shows up and tries to kill Willow. Buffy goes to stake her, but Willow cries out no and she just stops her instead. Vampire Willow says "This world's no fun". Willow says "You noticed that too".
They decide to send vampire Willow back to her reality. They make Anya help them. She rematerializes in the vampire world only to be staked by Oz within seconds. Later, Willow and Buffy are sitting in the school grounds. Buffy asks if she wants to go out, but Willow says she's going to stay home. She's decided she has to be extra virtuous to make up for all the guilt she now feels, both for herself and vampire Willow. Percy shows up. Apparently, vampire Willow did one good deed. Percy did his outline for his Roosevelt paper. Two of them, since he didn't know which president he should write about. He even brings her an apple. Willow says she'll see Buffy at 9:00 that night.
I'm beginning to think the theme of this season is know thyself. In Anne, Buffy realizes that being a slayer isn't just her job, it's what she is. In The Zeppo, Xander undergoes some self discovery. Cordelia at least starts the process in The Wish as does Faith in both Bad Girls and Consequences. Even Giles learns a little about himself in Helpless (Eighteen) and he and Joyce both make some discoveries in Band Candy. But Willow is odd slayer(ette) out. This is her week.
Willow is passive by nature. She rarely takes the initiative. Things just happen to her and she accepts them. Snyder tells her to tutor Percy and she accepts. Giles tells her to break into the mayor's files and she heads to the computer. Percy tells her to write his paper for him and she's ready to do it. Anya wants her help with a spell and she immediately agrees. Her rebellion is limited to mild expressions of unhappiness and eating a banana when it isn't lunch time yet.
When Buffy tries to comfort Willow by telling her vampires don't share the personality of the mortal whose body they take, Angel clearly disagrees. And vampire Willow seems just as passive as Willow, despite all the s&m regalia. She wanders aimlessly through the streets. The gang of vampires attack her, she doesn't seek them out. She's easily dissuaded from her planned action, by Xander when she is beating up Percy and later by Anya when she plans to kill all the people in the Bronze. Anya comes up with a plan, not vampire Willow. And when she returns to her own reality, she just stands there while Oz kills her.
The difference between the Willows was not passive versus aggressive (despite her dominatrix persona vampire Willow wasn't particularly aggressive), it was good versus evil. Willow, whether passively standing by or occasionally acting, is always trying to be good. Vampire Willow was always trying to be evil. When Willow helps Anya, she thinks she's doing a good deed, returning a family heirloom. She actually unleashes vampire Willow. When vampire Willow attacks Percy, she thinks she's doing evil. She'd probably have killed him if Xander hadn't intervened. But her action leads to Percy's reformation, at least for a time.
I think the key moment in this episode occurs when the two Willows confront each other at the Bronze. They both agree on one thing, "this world's no fun". Both Willows seem to be depressed and perhaps their passiveness is a sign of that depression. Vampire Willow is saddened because this world isn't evil enough for her. Willow is sad because this world isn't good enough for her. Both extremes just lead to sorrow. It's interesting that the reformation of Percy helps Willow. When she sees his willingness to do his homework, she's ready to go out with Buffy and have some fun. She had been intending to spend the rest of her life at home, dying a virgin with well flossed teeth. Now she's ready to enter into the world again. Percy reforms because of his confrontation with vampire Willow. Willow's happiness, or at least her chance at happiness, is a result of the merging of the evil of vampire Willow and her own good. She's approaching a middle ground where she can actually live happily.
Cordelia is clearly making a play for Wesley. And given his general geekiness, you have to wonder why. But she certainly didn't dress like that to pick up some library books. And it's interesting that she's still upset enough about Willow and Xander to feel the need to lecture Willow about the incident. I think this is an attempt to make Xander jealous. By starting something with Wesley, she evens things up with Xander and his kissing Willow. Like Willow, Wesley is a bookish quiet sort who really wouldn't seem to be a girlfriend stealing threat. Also, Cordelia has always competed with Buffy, as we saw most strongly in Homecoming. Buffy has a special relationship with Giles, one that was made clear in Helpless (Eighteen). By establishing a relationship with Wesley, Cordelia also evens things up with Buffy. And Wesley is safe. He's clearly awkward around women, he was really flustered when he first met Cordelia in Consequences, and he lacks even Giles' limited sophistication. He's one man Cordelia can feel sure she can control.
In Consequences, I said I wasn't sure whether Faith had really gone over to the dark side or whether she was working deep undercover. Well, the fact she doesn't even try to warn Willow or do anything to protect her from the mayor's planned attack suggests the first theory was correct. Unless she sees Willow as an acceptable casualty in the war against evil. She does seem upset when the mayor mentions killing Willow.
The subplot with the mayor was interesting, partly because it revealed so much about Faith and the mayor. Faith doesn't seem to have had much in the way of material things. She's overwhelmed by a lifestyle that would probably mean a step down for Cordelia. And her response is to come on to the mayor sexually. She cannot conceive of people doing things for her without wanting something in return. And sex is what she usually feels is wanted and what she's willing to offer. If that doesn't demonstrate low self esteem, I don't know what does. But the mayor's response is even more interesting. He says he's a family man - and we've heard this family values stuff from him many times in the past - but in the next breath is talking about murdering Willow. And having vampires do it. In Consequences, Buffy said she didn't get an evil vibe from the mayor when she had seen him previously. I think she's right. The mayor isn't evil in the traditional sense, he's insane. He really believes he's doing the right thing. I guess you could say he's the average politician taken to a metaphorical extreme.
I do have one big problem with this story. The council seems to have just forgotten about the problem with Faith. Last week they decided to lock her up, this week they are giving her tests. Maybe they changed their collective mind - which seems unlikely given what we've heard and seen of them - but I'd like at least to have had some reference to this.
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