July 30, 2022

Buffy 3.16, Doppelgangland: Old Reliable

Posted in TV tagged , , , , , , , at 1:12 pm by Jenn

Alyson Hannigan is excellent in this episode

Summary: Anya is begging her demon boss, D’Hoffryn, to restore her powers, which she lost when Giles destroyed her necklace. D’Hoffryn reminds her that her powers were a gift, and she’s shown that she’s unworthy of them, so she can’t have them back. Anya argues that she was robbed of them, but D’Hoffryn says she was careless.

She reminds him that she had her powers for 1,000 years, and she used them to punish misbehaving men and bring about chaos. She was worshipped and feared. Now she’s stuck in Sunnydale, a mortal teenager. Plus, she’s flunking math. D’Hoffryn isn’t sympathetic. He tells her she’ll live the life of a mortal now and die a mortal’s death. Anya asks for another chance – if D’Hoffryn sends her back in time, she can change what happened. He refuses, so she vows to get her powers back another way. If he won’t help her, she’ll find someone else.

Her best bet is Willow, who’s floating a pencil on the Sunnydale High quad. Buffy’s next to her, doing sit-ups in preparation for some Watchers’ Council testing. She admires Willow’s new skill, which Willow says is about emotional control (plus, of course, magic). She notices that Buffy’s working out more than usual and guesses that she wants to outperform Faith on the tests. Buffy thinks she’s being shallow, but Willow assures her that competition is healthy. At the very least, she’ll beat Faith on the psych tests, as long as she doesn’t “mark the box that says ‘I sometimes like to kill people.'”

Buffy’s still sympathetic toward Faith, even though Faith tried to frame her for Finch’s death. Faith has had it rough, and in different circumstances, Buffy could have wound up the same way. Willow doubts that, since not everyone has it in them to kill and then act like nothing happened. Buffy tries to back out of the conversation, since she knows Willow doesn’t like talking about Faith. Willow says it’s fine, but judging from the way her pencil is spinning a million miles an hour, her emotional control is a little compromised right now.

Willow goes to a meeting with Snyder and a student named Percy. Percy is a star basketball player with a failing grade in history and no motivation to improve it. He argues that he’s challenged. “You’re lazy, self-involved, and spoiled. That’s quite the challenge,” Snyder replies. He wants to ensure that the basketball team has a winning year – they need it after what happened with the swim team last year – so Willow is going to tutor Percy. She objects but Snyder tells her this is her chance to give back to the community. Also, she definitely doesn’t have a choice in the matter.

After the meeting, Willow catches up with Buffy and they go to the library together. Buffy offers to force Snyder to back off, but Willow doesn’t want her to make any trouble. She just hates how Snyder bullies people and assumes their time is his. Giles emerges from his office and tells Willow to try again to access the mayor’s files. She agrees, apparently not realizing that Snyder isn’t the only person who assumes other people’s time is his.

Faith comes in with Wesley after finishing some sort of obstacle course. Wesley says she was a little sloppy, but considering he’s gasping for breath and she looks like she didn’t even break a sweat, I don’t think he has any room to judge. Faith tells Buffy she’ll like the course: “It’s just like fun, only boring.” Giles tells her the evaluations are necessary, and she promises she’s on board. She wishes Buffy good luck and might even mean it.

Faith joins Willow as she’s trying to hack the mayor’s files. Willow says he has some barriers set up but she’s confident she’ll breach them eventually. That night, Faith warns the mayor, who’s just rented her a nice apartment. He doesn’t want her to continue to live in the motel, where there are “immoral liaisons” going on. “Yeah, plus all the screwing,” she replies. (They’ll keep the old motel room so the Scoobies don’t find out about the new place.)

She teases the mayor by calling him her sugar daddy, which he doesn’t appreciate. He’s a family man, after all. He quickly shifts gears, saying it’s time to kill Willow. He’s not going to have Faith do it, though. A vampire attack makes much more sense. Until then, Faith can enjoy the perks of this new arrangement. Her new dad even bought her a PlayStation!

At school the next day, Willow reunites with Oz, who took the previous day off because his band came back late from an out-of-town gig. She’s disappointed that he didn’t tell her about the gig. She might have wanted to go. Oz says he didn’t think she would have wanted to miss school. Willow translates that as him believing she’s boring. He tells her that’s “a radical interpretation of the text.” He invites her to come to their show at the Bronze that night, but she says she has too much homework.

Willow finds Percy to set up a time to discuss a paper he needs to write on one of the Roosevelts. He’s confused (okay, he’s always confused, but even more so this time) because he was under the impression that she was going to write it for him. Willow agrees to get him the books he needs, and then they can meet up at lunch. Percy vetoes that plan, since lunchtime is reserved for hanging out. He tells her to just type up the paper (but not “too good”) and put his name on it.

Willow grumpily sits down in the quad, pulling out a banana she’s decided to eat even though it’s not lunchtime yet. Buffy and Xander join her and ask if she remembered to tape an episode of Biography. She did, which doesn’t surprise Buffy; she calls Willow “Old Reliable.” Willow doesn’t appreciate being given such a boring nickname. Xander tries to spin it by saying she’s “a geyser of fun that goes off at regular intervals.” Willow tells him that’s Old Faithful. He thought that was the dog that was shot. She tells him that’s Old Yeller. “Xander, I beg you not to help me,” Buffy speaks up.

She reassures Willow that it’s good to be reliable. But Willow wants to be seen as someone who doesn’t just help whenever other people want her to. Maybe she’ll cut class or change her luck. “And I’m eating this banana – lunchtime be damned!” she declares. She tries to walk off but Buffy follows her. Willow tells her that she’s trying to storm off, and being followed ruins it.

Inside, Anya introduces herself to Willow and asks her to help with a project. Willow thinks it’s school-related and confirms that she’s the one to talk to: “Reliable dog geyser person.” She perks up when Anya tells her it’s a spell. She needs a secondary to create a temporal fold. Willow eagerly asks if it’s dangerous and is disappointed when Anya assures her it isn’t. “Can we pretend it is?” Willow replies.

They go to an empty classroom to do a spell to summon some spirit that will open a fold. Then they’ll pour some sand on a representation of Anya’s necklace (which she says was stolen from her mother’s apartment), and the spirit will bring it out of wherever it was lost. The spell goes fine until Willow gets a glimpse of where the necklace last existed. As she and Anya are pouring the sand, it falls on Willow’s hand. Instead of bringing forth the necklace, the spell brings forth Willow in her vampire form at the Bronze.

Willow is freaked out about the kind of dark magic Anya had her use and the world it showed her, which she thinks was a Hell dimension. Anya claims she’s just trying to find her necklace. “Well, did you try looking inside the sofa in Hell?” Willow asks. Anya wants to try again but Willow refuses to participate. She even takes back the chicken feet she contributed. She warns Anya not to toy with magic, then leaves to do Percy’s homework.

Vampire Willow (whom I will call Vamp Willow – inspired, right?) wanders around downtown, confused about the differences between her world and this one. There are humans walking around at night, not worried about being attacked by vampires. They’re also hanging out at the Bronze, blissfully unaware of a vampire in their midst.

Vamp Willow runs into Percy, who’s surprised to see her in very un-Willow-like clothes. He reminds her that she’s supposed to be writing his paper. He brags that until graduation, he owns her. “Bored now,” she says, shoving him over a pool table. She tells him she’s having a bad night and asks him to make it better. She chokes him as people around them point and laugh, because as popular as Percy would be as a star athlete, apparently no one cares that he’s having his butt handed to him by nerdy Willow Rosenberg.

Xander notices that people are interested in something and runs to Vamp Willow and Percy. He thinks Percy is messing with Willow, though, since that makes more sense. Percy scampers off, not wanting any more trouble with Vamp Willow. Xander takes in her new look, thinking she’s trying something out like she said she would. She’s happy to see that he’s alive (since Buffy had just killed him right before she was brought out of her world) and feels him up, which freaks him out. She’s disappointed to realize that he’s alive alive, as in human. She laments that everything’s different.

Buffy arrives and tries to be positive about Willow’s new look. Vamp Willow tells Buffy she doesn’t like her. Buffy thinks she’s upset about what happened at school and says Willow doesn’t need to prove anything. Vamp Willow turns to leave, and when Buffy tries to stop her, she vamps out and roars for Buffy to back off. Buffy and Xander are horrified to think that their best friend has been turned into a vampire.

Outside, a couple of the mayor’s minions find Willow and attack her, surprised when she fights back. She breaks one guy’s fingers until he tells her who he works for. When she keeps asking, he catches on and switches his allegiance to her. She tells him to gather his buddies so they can make the real world like the world she came from, starting with the Bronze.

Buffy and Xander go to the library, stunned by Willow’s apparent death. They fill Giles in and the three all sit together numbly. “She was truly the finest of all of us,” Giles says. “Way better than me,” Xander replies. “Much, much better,” Giles agrees. Buffy blames herself – Willow must have gone out and gotten attacked because she wanted to show that she wasn’t Old Reliable. Now Buffy’s best friend is…

Here in the library, actually. Willow comes in, sees three sad faces, and asks who died. Then she remembers she lives in Sunnydale and realizes someone might have actually died. Xander holds up a cross and tells her to get back. When that doesn’t do anything, he shakes the cross like it might be broken. Buffy and Xander happily hug their friend, relieved that she’s alive. Willow asks Giles why they’re acting weird, but she can’t get the question out before he hugs her, too.

Willow says it’s nice that everyone missed her. “Say, you all didn’t happen to do a bunch of drugs, did ya?” she asks brightly. Xander tells her they saw her at the Bronze, but she was a vampire. Willow seems offended. Buffy asks Giles for an explanation, but all he can manage is, “Something…something, um, very strange is happening.” “Can you believe the Watchers’ Council let this guy go?” Xander quips.

Back at the Bronze, Anya tries to order a beer but the bartender won’t serve her without an ID. “I’m 1,120 years old – just give me a fricking beer!” she yells. He still says no, so she sighs and asks for a Coke instead. Dingoes Ate My Baby are setting up to perform, and Devon tells Oz that they need a roadie, since other bands have them. Oz points out that other bands can also play more than three chords.

Angel shows up looking for Buffy, just in time for Vamp Willow’s new gang to walk in and take everyone hostage. Angel tells Oz he can escape through a skylight. Angel wants to stay, but Oz tells him it’ll be him against too many vampires to defeat. Just then, Vamp Willow strolls in, happy that everyone’s afraid, “just like old times.” Oz tells Angel to get Buffy ASAP. As Angel scales some ropes to get to the skylight, Devon admires Oz’s girlfriend’s new look.

Vamp Willow approaches a girl named Sandy and pulls her out of her seat. She tells Sandy she doesn’t have to be afraid just to please Vamp Willow. If everyone’s good, the vampires will make them all young and strong forever. If they’re not good…well, they’ll be bitten, like Vamp Willow bites Sandy. “Questions? Comments?” Vamp Willow says.

Oz tries to stop Vamp Willow, telling her she doesn’t want to do this. “But I’m so good at it,” she says. She recognizes him as a White Hat from her world and wonders why he’s acting like they’re friends. Anya explains that he thinks she’s the Willow from this reality. She confirms to Vamp Willow that she’s in the wrong world and tells her they have a common goal: They both want to get back there.

At the library, Willow’s freaked out by the thought of there being a vampire out there who looks just like her. Xander and Buffy tell her they’re exactly alike, except for Vamp Willow’s seeming dominatrix tendencies. Willow jokes that she and Oz do that stuff, too, which sends Xander and Buffy to “a scary visual place.”

Angel bursts in and, without seeing Willow behind him, tells the Scoobies that Willow’s dead. As she steps forward, he notices her and casually says hi to her. Wow, Angel might be as dumb as Percy. He tells the Scoobies that Vamp Willow is at the Bronze with a gang of vampires, wanting to cause trouble. They all head out to take care of that situation, but Willow wants to know what they’ll do with Vamp Willow. Buffy isn’t sure; their first priority is just protecting the humans. Willow thinks of something she can do and heads back to the library. That means she’s alone when Vamp Willow finds her.

The two Willows get their first look at each other. Vamp Willow is unimpressed, mostly because Willow’s wearing a fluffy pink sweater. “What do I want with you?” Willow asks. Vamp Willow tells her that Anya said Willow could get her back to her world. But now Vamp Willow likes the idea of teaming up with…well, herself. Willow would have to come around to her “way of thinking,” though.

Willow wonders if that includes snuggling. Vamp Willow licks her neck and asks if she wants to be bad. Willow’s understandably disturbed and just wants to get away, but all she has handy to protect herself is a cross. However, when Vamp Willow tosses her over the counter, she’s able to grab a dart gun and shoot her double with a tranquilizer.

The other Scoobies return and lock Vamp Willow in a book cage while she’s unconscious. Giles is intrigued by the doubles but Willow thinks it’s horrible: “That’s me as a vampire? I’m so evil and skanky. And I think I’m kind of gay.” Buffy tells her that a vampire’s personality has nothing to do with the human they were. Angel starts to contradict her, then changes his mind. The Scoobies still need to get to the Bronze, but they’re not sure how to save all the hostages without setting off a killing spree. “I have a really bad idea,” Buffy offers.

They all go back to the Bronze, where Angel peeks inside and reports that nothing’s happened yet. He guesses that the vampire minions are afraid of their new boss and won’t do anything without an order. Willow has changed into Vamp Willow’s outfit to take her place, and her job is to keep things calm and send out some vampires so the Scoobies can kill them. If she gets into any trouble, she just needs to scream and the Scoobies will come to her rescue. She promises Buffy that she won’t do “anything that can be interpreted as brave.”

Willow steels herself, then knocks to be let back into the Bronze. She says she killed the real Willow, which was, of course, the opposite of what Anya needed her to do. She sends a vampire minion outside to check on a noise, and he walks right into his death. Anya criticizes “Vamp Willow” for killing Willow, who tries to go dark by threatening to have her taken out by the minions. She pauses to give Oz a little wave, letting him know who she really is. For once in his life, he changes expressions (though only slightly), relieved that she’s alive.

Anya complains that vampires always think with their teeth. “Vamp Willow” says that Willow was too accommodating and let people walk all over her, then took it out on her friends. She sends a minion to check on the first minion she sent outside. Another one suggests that they start killing hostages, since they don’t have any reason to wait anymore.

Vamp Willow wakes up in the book cage wearing Willow’s clothes. Cordelia comes in wearing a sparkly dress; she claims she needs books but she’s obviously just hoping to run into Wesley. Vamp Willow pretends she got locked in the cage accidentally and asks Cordelia to let her out. Before Cordelia does, she decides this is a good time for a chat about Willow’s fling with Xander.

Willow tries to delay any killing at the Bronze. She attempts to run her fingers through a hostage’s hair but they get stuck. She thinks it would be too easy to kill the hostages – maybe they should let them go and hunt them. Anya catches on that this isn’t Vamp Willow.

Cordelia rants to the real Vamp Willow, who can’t keep her eyes off of Cordelia’s neck. Cordelia thinks it’s because she’s getting a pimple. Vamp Willow apologizes for stealing Xander and promises never to steal another boyfriend from her. Cordelia doubts that she could anyway. She finally unlocks the cage and is rewarded with a chase. She tries to appease Vamp Willow by blessing her relationship with Xander, but Vamp Willow says she’s over him. She wants fresh blood.

In the hallway, Wesley hears Cordelia screaming and runs toward the sound. Vamp Willow has cornered her in a bathroom but Wesley is able to get her to leave with the double threats of a cross and holy water. Cordelia tells him he saved her life and hugs him tightly. Only then do they acknowledge that Willow is a vampire. They’re sad for about three seconds, and then Cordelia asks Wesley if he has any plans.

Anya’s tired of all this and doesn’t even care about getting her powers back. She thinks the minions should eat Willow. Willow says Anya has psychiatric problems. “I’m a bloodsucking fiend! Look at my outfit!” she says. Plus, if she’s human, could she do this? By “this,” she means scream. Anya and a minion are like, “Yeah, of course.” But that was Willow’s signal for the Scoobies to come in, and when they do, the hostage crisis is all over.

The hostages run while the Scoobies take on the vampires. Willow does her part by punching Anya before running off with Oz. Vamp Willow stops them and shoves Oz aside. “No more snuggles?” Willow asks. Xander and Giles tag-team a minion while Vamp Willow chokes her doppelganger on the stage. It takes Buffy a while to notice, but when she does, she runs up to help. She’s about to stake Vamp Willow with a pool cue when Willow yells for her not to. Buffy immediately stops and restrains Vamp Willow instead. Willow compliments her reflexes. Vamp Willow complains that this world is no fun. “You noticed that, too?” Willow replies.

As Giles prepares to send Vamp Willow back to her world, Xander asks if he’s really a tough vampire over there. Vamp Willow just rolls her eyes at him. Buffy’s worried about sending her back, but Willow doesn’t want to kill her. She gets that they’re not the same person, but she knows she’s only a bite away from being in the same situation. If they send Vamp Willow back to her world, she has a chance.

Giles tells Anya they’re ready, and she’d better not pull any tricks. Anya says that when she gets her powers back, everyone will grovel before her. Both Willows scoff at that. Willow says goodbye to Vamp Willow, telling her not to kill anyone. They hug but it doesn’t last long since Vamp Willow can’t keep her hands to herself. Anya sends her back to her world, but two seconds later, Oz pushes her into a broken piece of wood and stakes her. Thus ends the story of Vamp Willow.

At school the next day, Buffy asks Willow if she wants to go out that night. Willow says she feels like being very, very good and doing things like flossing and never having sex. She has “double guilt coupons” thanks to all the bad things her doppelganger did. She never wants to be like that. Percy comes over and gives Willow an outline he wrote on Roosevelt. He didn’t know which one he was supposed to write about, so he did one for each. He even typed up a bibliography. He’s open to any notes and will do whatever Willow says. He gives her an apple before running off. Buffy asks Willow again if she wants to go out that night, and this time Willow agrees.

Thoughts: This is my favorite episode. I took forever to write this recap because there are so many great moments in the episode and I didn’t want to leave anything out.

Why does Anya go to school if she’s over 1,000 years old and hates it?

“I know Faith’s not going to be on the cover of Sanity Fair…” What an awesome line.

Oh, the ’90s, when you had to tape shows on a VCR and pass the tapes around if other people wanted to watch them.

When Anya introduces herself to Willow, she says she’s kind of friends with Cordelia. Willow replies with a sarcastic, “Oh, fun.” There’s a great little moment where Anya chirps,” Yeah,” in a way that says, “I know, I don’t like her, either.”

It cracks me up that the bartender doesn’t even blink when Anya says she’s 1,120. You know that guy’s heard it all.

There’s a deleted scene where Devon asks Angel if he wants to be the band’s roadie and Angel replies, “Less than you’d think.” And in another deleted scene, Xander blames himself for Willow’s death, and when Giles asks why, Xander says it’s a “statistical probability.”

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