I find it hard to write about the third season of Buffy because I think, bar maybe 3 episodes, that it’s brilliant. I find it hard not to just waffle on about how great I think it is.
For a start I think it has one of the best villains – The Mayor. Previously we haven’t met him, but he has been mentioned. You wouldn’t think that The Mayor would be evil, or at least the kind of evil that would bring on an apocalypse. We are given the impression that the people of Sunnydale think he is a wonderful, caring man, when in actual fact he just wants to feast on them all. What I really love about him though is how human he is, his human weakness, especially where Faith is concerned. He loves her like a father, and fears something bad happening to her.
Faith is a great character. A rogue slayer, she not only gives The Mayor a link to the human world, but shows us what would happen if Buffy ever had to battle another Slayer. Faith isn’t nessecarily evil though. She is led astray by the power she has, and the need to be loved. She feels that being the slayer entitles her to do whatever she likes, and struggles to cope with Buffy’s difference in attitude towards their destiny.
This season also has a lot of heartache in it. The gang have to struggle with Buffy’s absence, and then her return. She has become quite closed off, and struggles with life after Angel. His return is difficult. Buffy struggles with her love for him. It happens at a time when she is just starting to get over him, and knowing how her friends would react, she keeps it from them. Although it takes time, eventually the gang are pretty much forgiving of Angel, and we question if that is right? Should they have forgiven him after what he did. Of course it wasn’t him entirely, just his evil uncontrollable self. Then we as fans question ourselves. We heartbroken when he changed, and cried our eyes out when he killed Jenny, how can we forgive and accept him so willingly? It’s almost like he and Angelus are two serperate characters. He then angers us more by breaking Buffy’s heart. Although she’ll always love him, I do believe this was good decision. I much prefer her relationship with Spike, and her and Angel would never have a normal relationship.
I think Angel leaving Buffy is particularly hard because she’s had her heart broken by him before. It’s no wonder that Buffy puts up such a touch exterior.
Now, we all wondered when we first watched the earlier season if Xander and Willow would ever happen. It take long for us come to terms with the fact that it wouldn’t and that was probably for the best anyway. Their friendship is so precious. But… it does happen. Sigh. I find it a bit strange. I mean for years they’ve had the opportunity, and yet they suddenly can’t keep their hands off each other. It’s the predicament of wanting everything and not being able to have everything. As soon as they’re caught they see the error of their ways and are sorry. I think that the differences in reactions says a lot about their characters. Cordelia put a lot of faith in going out with Xander; he isn’t popular, he has no “cool factor” and he’s perfectly nice. She falls out with her popular friends and essentially lowers her place in the school, but at the same time she still manages to have that Queen C feel to her. Walking in on Xander kissing Willow is the ultimate betrayal for her because she has give up so much. As a result she turns very hateful, and builds a hard exterior for herself. It isn’t until later in the season that her and Xander seem to regain any type of friendship. For Oz and Willow it’s very different. Oz has been with other women, but for Willow, Oz is her first serious boyfriend. Oz is aware of her relationship with Xander and that there is a history there. He is hurt, but more understanding that this was possibly just something she had to get out of her system. This makes him more forgiving.
We as an audience again find ourselves in a strange position. We know what Xander and Willow are doing is wrong and yet we don’t find ourselves mad at them, but rather hurting for them. We forgive them for what they are doing almost instantly.
There seems to be a theme throughout the season of trying to take what you want but know you can’t have. Buffy tries to stay away from Angel and not be with him, and yet she still visits him behind her friends backs; Faith desires the love and friendship that the gang have with each other but won’t let go of her opinion that because she is more powerful she should be able to do whatever she wants; and of course the foursome that is Xander, Cordelia, Willow and Oz.
I feel like this season is a great transition from high school to college. In season two they have to grow up quickly to deal with what is happening to them. Here we are reminded that they are still just teenagers, growing up and making mistakes.
I find it very hard to fault this season. There are few episodes that I don’t like, mainly the first few. Once Buffy is back in school, it improves greatly. It’s very emotional – Buffy returning, Angel returning, Giles getting fired, Oz and Cordelia finding out about Xander and Willow and Faith and Buffy facing off and Angel breaking Buffy’s heart.
This season also has some of the most interesting episodes. The adults get turned into teenagers; Buffy’s abilities are tested; we see an alternate reality and Willow’s vampire doppelganger; and let’s not forget a Xander centred episode where it’s clear that the gang are having one of the worst apocalypse’s’ but we have no idea what is going on other than Xander spending the evening trying to stop a gang of dead guys blowing up the school, something that will inevitably happen.
Here is my list of the best episodes… although you don’t really need to read them because it’s nearly every episode!
- Band Candy
- Lover’s Walk
- The Wish
- The Zeppo
- Bad Girls
- Graduation Day Part 1
- Graduation Day Part 2