Buffy Ep 3.19 "Choices"

And quite an episode, it's own way. As various people have mentioned, we have skipped an episode - Earshot - but this episode seems to carry straight on from "Enemies", so it's absence is not immediately obvious.

Short (really) Synopsis:

The Mayor give Faith a present (a rather snazzy looking knife) as well as an errand to meet someone out at the airport.  The Mayor is waiting for a package crucial to his ascension.

Buffy and Angel are - you guessed it, fighting vampires. Buffy is getting a bit disgruntled (again) with her lot in life.

Buffy: Well, that was different. Unless, of course, you're me.
Buffy: So this is our future. This is going to be our life... When I'm fifty, and you're... the same age you are now.  (growl from offstage)
Angel: Let's just get you to fifty.
Buffy: Liking that plan.

Buffy has been accepted to North Western University, and Joyce is thrilled. Buffy is less so... what with her duties as Slayer, it doesn't look like she's going to get a chance to go. At school, the Principal is on an anti-drugs kick, and confiscates someones lunch.  It turns out the Willow has been accepted into Oxford. And, indeed, just about every university in the US, and several more in Europe and England. She is spoiled for choice.

Xander seems to be on a Jack Kerouac kick, and his immediate plans seem to be a road trip. Cordelia and Xander have another slanging match. Cordelia leaves him with the impression that she's been accepted into someplace prestigious. (Possibly important note. Cordelia's hair is not nearly as neat as it usually is.)

Buffy confronts Wesley, saying she wants to go away to college, and Wesley turns it down flat. Conditions at Sunnydale are just too difficult at the moment. Buffy proposes a compromise... if she can sort out the Mayor, and stop the ascension, she can go away to college, and just return to Sunnydale to fight evil in the holidays.

Buffy: I'm aware that my graduation may be... among other things, posthumous...

She's decided that she has to take the fight to the mayor. Giles backs her, and she goes off to find out more about his plans. Buffy: Plan? I need a plan? Can't I get by on just proactive get up and go?

Faith gets the package (killing the courier in the process... she's getting very bloodthirsty) and is seen by Buffy. Buffy interrogates the vampire chauffeur, and finds out a little about the box. It's called the Box of Gabroth and it's apparently an important part of the ritual.

Buffy and co decide to destroy it. Wesley's against it, they're moving too fast, but they ignore him. (Usually a good move.) Willow goes along to take out any supernatural defenses, and Angel and Buffy go to do the actual stealing.  Xander goes off to get ingredients for the ritual destruction of the box, and in the process spots Cordelia in a dress shop. He can't resist going in to twit her some more. He accuses her of not actually being accepted in any university, which she counters by showing him several acceptance letters from a number of good universities. A somewhat deflated Xander departs, leaving an unusually melancholy looking Cordelia. (I might add, she looks at that point, the most attractive I have seen her to date.) (Oh, and her hair is still messy. Dea)

The break in takes place. Willow takes down the protective spell, and takes off. Angel and Buffy try a Mission: Impossible style break in, complete with harness and pulleys. The alarm goes off anyway, and the pulleys jam. A pair of vampire guards rush in, and there is a fair to middling fight. Naturally, Angel and Buffy fight their way out, and Wesley and Giles provide a diversion while they make good their escape, with the box.

The Mayor is pissed off. It's probably the first time we've seen him coming anywhere close to losing control. However, Faith has managed to capture Willow.

Back at the library, the gang has realised Willow's been captured. They quickly decide that the only safe way to get Willow back is to trade the box for her. Wesley is dead set against it. Pointing out (correctly, for a change) that the fate of thousands of lives could be put in jeopardy by this.

Xander: I need a volunteer to hit Wesley.

Giles is wavering, and the conversation is getting heated, when Oz decides the issue. In an remarkably intense display for the usually laid back Oz, he picks up a vase and shatters it.  In the silence that follows:

Buffy: Giles, make the call.

A captured Willow is looking for some means of escape from the storeroom she's been locked in. She knocks over some office supplies, and her guard... a Vampire... comes in. He's going to have a little snack, but Willow takes him out with a levitated pencil. (I *knew* the pencil trick was going to come in handy!)

While trying to find a way out, Willow stumbles upon the Books of Ascension... and stops to read them!

She faces down Faith, (more or less) and let's her have it with some home truths. Just as Faith is about to get particularly vicious, the Mayor stops her. He's just had an interesting phone call.

The exchange is arranged. The gang wait in the school, having locked down the cafeteria so there's only one way in or out.  The lights go out, the mayor arrives.

They exchange insults, and then the Mayor gets stuck into Angel and Buffy's relationship, offering some (as far as I can tell) genuinely fatherly advice.

Mayor: I don't see much of a future for you. And not just because I'm going to kill you both. You two have got a rocky road ahead.

He points out that Angel is immortal, and Buffy isn't, and he (the Mayor) has been there. In one of his oddly human moments, he says:
Mayor: I stayed with Becky till she died in  '03. And it wasn't pretty. All wrinkles, and grey hair, and her cursing me for staying young.

Just as the exchange is taking place, who should show up but Principal Snyder with some security guards... he's sure there's a drug deal taking place!

He's rather put out when he finds that the Mayor is involved, and is about to back out, when a guard  opens the box. An enormous spider thing (ie: cat sized) jumps out and kills him. Another comes out, gets the Mayor (who gets better). There is a short truce, while the remaining thingies are dealt with. Faith takes out one with a thrown knife that's just about to jump on Wesley.

The Mayor gets the box, and departs, implying there's a huge number of these things in the box (Oh, about 50 Billion. Do you want to look? Hand's up who's impervious?) Faith is clearly not pleased with the spider things, and looks like she might be having second thoughts about which side she's on.

A shocked Snyder has witnessed all of this.
Snyder: You. All of you. Why couldn't you be dealing drugs like normal people. He wanders off, stunned.

Next day, Willow has managed to take notes of some of the more interesting pages in the Books of Ascension, and hands them over to Giles to translate.

Buffy has pretty much decided she's stuck at Sunnydale University... which is where Willow has decided to go. She's decided she *likes* fighting evil, and Sunnydale is the place to do it.

Cordelia turns out to be *working* in the dress shop. what?!? what's going on here? She's always been filthy rich!?! Something has happened in her life. At a guess, her Dad either lost all his money, or run off with his secretary. Or something along those lines. (Did something happen in Earshot that we missed? Don't know, don't want to know.)

And Buffy and Angel have a quiet moment (in the cemetary, of course). Angel is clearly thinking about some of the things the Mayor said...

End of Synopsis. Damn! This WAS going to be short.

OK: Some comments.

I think Willow is looking more and more attractive. I don't know what it is... hairstyle, open collared shirts, or just looking more relaxed and mature.

I still wonder if the Xander/Cordelia romance will ever rekindle. There is still considerably feeling between the two of them. Even if it is vicious...

The Mayor continually impresses me as a bad guy. One of the things about the villians in Buffy, the major ones tend to be more than just cardboard cutouts. The Mayor is proving to be far more interesting that I thought he was going to be. For one thing... he *IS* a force to be reckoned with. He doesn't tend to kill off his minions in fits of rage. (This is a great saving in the cost of minions, BTW) He's got a certain humanity about him.  Utterly ruthless in achieving his goal, he doesn't let that get in the way of perform little kindnesses and offering helpful advice.

I've just sussed it. As far as he's concerned, *he* isn't evil. Sure, he wants to rule the world, or something, but he's obviously the best man (?) for the job. And you can't make an omelete without breaking a few eggs. But he clearly still thinks of himself as a good guy. He'll stop to take a kitten out of a tree, or unselfconsciously pose with a boy scout group. Or, in this case, stop to offer what is probably very sound advice to some people who are clearly his enemies.  (Which is also scary)

I'm curious to find out more of the Cordelia story. If she ever stops acting the bimbo airhead, she could be a very interesting character.

And I still wonder where Snyder fits into the scheme of things. He clearly knows a lot of what is going on... but not everything.

Robbie rating: 8.5, easy. Good plot advancement, some humour, some good lines.
Stephanie rating: OK for kids to watch. Grossest bit was the spider attack.

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