"Lovers Walk" (3x08) quick link here "Amends" (3x10) quick link here
Two quick notes before we get started...
1) I will be reviewing the episodes in bullet point form. This is because it makes the reviews simple to read, and helps break up the text.
2) If you are watching the show for the first time along with these reviews, please be warned that there may be a few spoilers for things that haven’t happened yet.
With that being said, let’s get started, shall we?
• What can I say about this episode other than ‘stunning’, ‘near-perfect’, and ‘captivating’? I think “Lovers Walk”, “The Wish”, and “Amends” is one of the best three-episode runs of any television show ever. Why ‘near-perfect’, you ask? Because everyone forgets the events of this episode entirely except for Anya! All that growth, all that excitement, and it’s like it never happened! I know that later in the season vampire Willow emerges and some details get explained, but I feel like it’s not enough. With that being said, we, the audience, remember everything. This episode gives us a different perspective on every character from the show and we learn a lot about every character.
• You can tell that the budget for “Buffy The Vampire Slayer” increased for season three. Each scene is lit far brighter than they were during the first two seasons. It certainly makes the show look a higher quality, but sometimes I miss the darker mood-lighting.
This episode is split into two halves....
1. Before The Wish
• Xander: “And they burst in, rescuing us, without even knocking? I mean, this is really all their fault.”
Buffy: “Your logic does not resemble our Earth logic.”
Xander: “Mine is much more advanced.”
Xander, I love you, but please take some responsibility for your actions. Xander has always had this ability to never take responsibility for anything. I think it stems from Xander just being emotionally less mature than the other Scoobies. I don’t feel the slightest bit sorry for Xander or Willow in this episode. All my sympathy is saved for Oz and Cordelia. However, it is nice to see Buffy side with her friends, even though they’re in the wrong, but also not at the expense of Oz or Cordelia. Buffy is still trying to be friends with Cordelia and offer her support. Let’s not forget that when push came to shove in “Bewitched, Bothered And Bewildered”, Cordelia chose Xander over her friends. Not only has she lost Xander now, but she’s lost the social standing that she once had at Sunnydale High.
• The first half of this episode revolves squarely around Cordelia. After Cordelia is finally comfortable in a relationship with Xander and deems him locker-door material, he breaks her heart. Ouch. To counteract this heartbreak, Cordelia over-corrects. She reverts instantly back to the person that she was before dating Xander. Glancing over the fact that the leather and burgundy looked pretty damn good, all the growth that Cordelia had made during the relationship disappears.
Cordelia comes to the conclusion that it’s Buffy’s fault that Xander cheated on her because if Xander wasn’t friends with Buffy, Cordelia wouldn’t have entered into a relationship with Xander in the first place. It is in no way Buffy’s fault that Cordelia’s life sucks. It is Xander (primarily) and Willow’s fault. Cordelia choosing to blame Buffy for everything going wrong in her life is completely unjustified.
• Anya! Welcome to the show! That Vengeance Demon make-up is pretty scary! Anya eventually becomes one of the best characters in the Buffyverse. The Anya that we meet in season three is a much different creature to the Anya that dies at the end of season seven. By the end of the show, Anya has grown to love and appreciate human beings. It’s also not lost upon me that Anya’s first appearance in the Buffyverse is trying to convince Cordelia to wish something bad about Xander so that she can curse him. If that isn’t a warning sign of what is to come, I don’t know what is.
• Harmony is a bitch. Firstly, she’s an absolute cow to Cordelia in this episode. She’s supposed to be her best friend! I knew that “You’re a sheep” speech that Cordelia gave Harmony in season two’s “Bewitched, Bothered And Bewildered” would come back to bite her in the ass. Secondly, why wouldn’t Jonathan make a good boyfriend? Because he’s short? Oz proves that short men can be awesome. Is it because he has no friends? What difference would that make! Cordelia went on a date with Jonathan at the end of “Reptile Boy”. Could you imagine how much different the rest of this season would be for Jonathan if Cordelia asked him out?! Maybe he wouldn’t have been in the clocktower with a rifle in “Earshot”...or perhaps with Cordelia as a girlfriend he’d have been up there faster. Also, Jonathan has a moped! I need to see this visual, and I need it now.
• Oz: “Look, I’m sorry this is hard for you. But I told you what I need, so I can’t help feeling like the reason you want to talk is so you can feel better about yourself. That’s not my problem.”
It sucks to see Willow upset, but I was really happy with Oz’s actions in this scene. He didn’t go out of his way to be mean like Cordelia does, but he also didn’t let Willow off the hook instantly. He’s entitled to need some space.
It’s also interesting to note just how differently Willow and Xander are reacting to their respective break-ups. Willow wants nothing more than to make it right with Oz. She’s desperate for his forgiveness and to get him back. Xander, on the other hand, after getting nowhere with Cordelia for a week, gives up. He wants nothing more than to move on from the whole situation.
2. After The Wish
• How much does Sunnydale suck without Buffy? Everyone is miserable!
• Xander and Willow have been murdered and turned into vampires. While on the subject, how hot are both Willow and Xander as vampires?! They’re so much sexier than they are as humans! Only two things are different though: their clothes and the fact they’re confident. That just goes to show that confidence is sexy...leather doesn’t hurt either. Cordelia is visibly upset at the realisation that Willow and Xander are dead. I think this proves that underneath all the hurt, she didn’t really hate them.
• Willow: “Bored now.”
Dark Willow later goes on to use this exact phrase before killing Warren at the end of season six. This gives further proof to the theory that a vampire keeps a certain amount of their personality once they’re sired. The concept of what happens to a person after they’re sired is complex because it feels like Joss and the rest of the writing staff tweaked the rules after the first season of the show. Giles tells Willow and Xander in “The Harvest” that Jesse is dead. Everything about Jesse is gone and all that remains is the demon that killed him. This certainly doesn’t reign true with Spike after you discover what William was like before being sired. Even after he was turned into a vampire he wanted his mother to go along with himself and Drusilla! Look at Harmony after she’s turned into a vampire! She’s soulless and yet is as annoying as ever and still loves shopping and gossip.
• If Buffy Summers had never come to Sunnydale, Xander and Willow would have died at the hands of The Master (it was presumably The Master that killed them). I’m assuming it would have taken place somewhere around “Welcome To The Hellmouth” or “The Harvest” time. You could argue that without Buffy, Willow would never have found the confidence to talk to Thomas in “Welcome To The Hellmouth”, and would therefore have not gotten into trouble in that episode. If that’s the case, I can see Willow and Xander getting sired soon after. Perhaps straight after “The Harvest” when The Master rose. Jesse would have been taken by Darla either way, so he’s still dead in this episode.
• Something that I adore about this episode is the continuity. This episode is so well thought out! Without Buffy arriving in Sunnydale, her Watcher, Giles, still feels the need to help people, so he created a group of vampire hunters known as the “White Hats”, who try to protect the public from the vampire threat. I also love the little details that are added into this episode, such as a monthly memorial service (because the body count would be a lot higher without Buffy in Sunnydale), not wearing bright colours, etc. It really makes this episode feel realistic, which is hard to do in just 42 minutes. It’s also wonderful to see so many secondary characters like Harmony and Larry used effectively.
• The Bronze is some form of gimp club in this bizarro world, huh?
• I never realised just how much I loved The Master until seeing him return in this episode. I wish (see what I did there?) season one was a full season so that we had more screen time with The Master. He was such an interesting villain.
• At this point in the episode, I was under the impression that it would revolve around Cordelia realising that Sunnydale is much better with Buffy in it and she’d somehow get the spell reversed, bringing the unicorns, daisies, and rainbows back to Sunnydale (because it’s practically Disneyland with Buffy there). Then, XANDER AND WILLOW KILL CORDELIA! WHAT THE HELL JUST HAPPENED! THIS ISN’T HOW TV SHOWS WORK!
Cordelia dies and the episode takes yet another twist. How is the wish ever going to get reversed if Cordelia, the only person who knows about it except the demon herself, is dead?! How fitting that it was the two people who broke her heart in the real world that killed her in the bizarro world. What a beautifully twisted parallel.
• I was just wondering where Angel was in bizarro world, and then the disturbing torture scene with Willow happened. It’s so very disturbing. Willow licks Angel; Xander throws a lit match on Angel’s chest. Look at Angel’s chest! OUCH! Give that man some E45 cream! It appears that Angel still saw Buffy get called in Los Angeles through the help of Whistler. Whistler tells Angel to go to Sunnydale, as Buffy is expected to be there soon, but Buffy never arrives, so Angel starts trying to save people by himself and gets caught by The Master (or some of his minions). Since then, he’s been tortured on a regular basis and has become a shell of his former self...he should have stayed on the streets with those yummy rats.
It’s also interesting to see the differences between vampire Xander and vampire Willow, as I feel it reflects their personalities. Xander is a lacky to The Master. He does what he’s told and he does it well. Just like he does with Buffy. Willow, on the other hand, shows a sadistic streak that she later shows as a human during season six. Willow tortures Angel with a sadistic happiness not seen since Angelus watched Buffy and Willow find out that Jenny was dead in “Passion”. This shows that Willow, deep down, is capable of very dark things when pushed to her limits. Things like trying to kill Buffy, like skinning Warren alive, and trying to destroy the entire world. So, ya know, just a few minor things.
• Giles: “She grants wishes”.
Oz: “So, Cordelia wished for something? Well, if it was for a long healthy life she should get her money back.”
Even in bizarro world Oz has the funniest lines.
• Buffy! Thank God you’re here!...even with your facial scars. Everything’s gotten so messed up without you! The Master is free, and Xander and Willow are vampires, and Cordelia is dead, and “I don’t like this place, and I don’t like you, and I just wanna go home!” (Give yourself 10 points if you can name the Buffy episode that quote is from).
• It’s interesting to see just how emotionless, humourless, and cold that Buffy is if she’d never arrived in Sunnydale. The Scoobies and Angel have clearly kept her more human and grounded over the past three years that she’s been in Sunnydale. It plays into the theory that gets explored in season five that Buffy has only survived so long because of her friends. The First Slayer tells Buffy that she is supposed to fight alone and have no ties to the world. The Buffy we see in this episode is the Buffy that would exist if she did her job like the Slayers before her had. She fights alone and dies alone.
It’s also interesting to note that Buffy’s clothes are very similar to Kendra’s from “Becoming Part One”. I’ve never noticed that before. Kendra was always like what I’d imagined Buffy would have been like without her family and friends. Less emotional, more methodical, etc. So it’s interesting that if you take the Scoobies away, she dresses like Kendra.
Buffy: “The world is what it is. We fight, we die. Wishing doesn’t change that.”
• The bizarro-world-Sunnydale raises a whole load of new questions, however. The thing that I always think of is Buffy season six’s “Normal Again”. Was the Buffy in the asylum from another dimension where Buffy wasn’t the Slayer and just had delusions that she was? They leave the ending of “Normal Again” intentionally vague, so it’s certainly a possibility.
• Buffy: “Is this a get-in-my-pants thing?”
Interesting to note that in this reality, Angel never did get into Buffy’s pants. Does this mean that Jenny is alive somewhere in this reality?! Is she still the Sunnydale High computing teacher? Angel was still in Sunnydale and she was sent there to keep an eye on him, so surely she is? So. Many. Questions.
• Angel: “You don’t believe I want to help you?! *opens shirt to reveal a huge array of bruises, cuts and burns* I believe I want him dead.”
That line has always stuck with me. It’s just so memorable! Angel is in almost entire shadow with cuts all over his chest. I love the symmetry that Angel is in shadow, which matches his emotional state. Great stuff. I love dissecting just how different all the characters are without Buffy to influence their lives.
• Then we get to the scene which really makes this episode a masterpiece! Giles is trying to convince Anyanka to reverse the spell, while the episode keeps flitting back to the factory, where the Scoobies are all dying one by one. Then Anyanka is talking over the slow-motion fighting at the factory. It’s genuinely one of the most beautiful scenes I’ve seen thus far into the reviews. There’s so much emotional weight behind it! I can’t say enough good things about it.
It’s also interesting to note that even in bizarro world, the prophecy that “Buffy will face The Master and she will die” still comes true. Also, Xander’s line to Angelus in “Killed By Death” (“you’re gonna die and I’m gonna be there”) also comes true in this universe.
Cordelia is dead, Angel is dead, Xander is dead, Willow is dead, and Buffy is dead. Just Giles and Oz remain out of the main cast...can we please go back to the real reality now? Please?! Even after the spell gets reversed, it’s still traumatising to have seen the characters that you’ve grown to love be killed so brutally by each other.
• To sum up, this episode is as close to perfect as you can get. For that reason I’m awarding it a 10/10. Sure, I dislike that nobody remembers it, but it’s not enough to downgrade such a masterpiece. It deals with the ending of the last episode before the wish takes place and we get an entire new reality that explores Sunnydale without Buffy Summers. Both parts work.
Quote Of The Episode
Anyanka: “You trusting fool, how do you know the other world is any better than this?”
Giles: “Because it has to be.”
That line is so powerful. Anthony delivers it perfectly. The desperation in his voice is bone-chilling.
FINAL SCORE: 10/10
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