Written by Joss Whedon
Directed by Joss Whedon
Anya from “The Wish” is trying to get her powers back. Ever since Wishverse Giles smashed her amulet, she’s been trapped in her high school senior persona, and she hates it with a passion. Her demon boss (who looks awesome) isn’t interested in helping her, since in his opinion, she blew her chance. Angry but undeterred, she leaves the weird crypt place where she came to meet him.
Willow is floating a pencil using telekinesis. Cool! Buffy is doing sit-ups because there’s some kind of Watcher assessment going on, and she wants to beat Faith. Willow’s still a little on edge about Faith. When Buffy suggests that if her and Faith’s situations had been reversed, she might’ve turned out the same way, Willow tries to act like the topic isn’t bothering her. However, her floaty pencil going berserk and burying itself several inches into a tree is a bit of a giveaway.
Snyder wants Willow to tutor a star basketball jock named Percy, because he’s about to fail history and that would get him kicked off the team. Willow really doesn’t want to because she’s busy enough with her own work. Snyder twists her arm until she agrees.
Willow tells Buffy about her forced tutoring situation, and how did she manage to find a skirt that looks like it was woven out of that fake grass stuff in Easter baskets?
The purse looks like it’s made out of the same stuff, too. Weird. She complains about Snyder monopolizing everyone’s time, and then Giles comes out of his office to monopolize her time. Completely missing the irony, she gladly jumps on the computer to make a fresh attempt at hacking the Mayor’s files. Faith and Wesley arrive. Faith just had her turn on some Slayer obstacle course (dangit, what is this thing? I want to see it!). Wesley is massively out of breath. He leaves with Buffy for her turn.
Faith asks Willow what she’s doing on the computer. Willow tells her. She’s confident she’ll be able to get through the Mayor’s barriers in no time. Cut to a pretty sweet apartment, which the Mayor has arranged for Faith. Is there any way I can get an apartment like that? It's in my favorite colors an everything.
She indicates that she’d be willing to thank him for the apartment with sexual favors (ew), but he’s too wholesome for that. He just wants to have Willow murdered by vampires for daring to hack his files. Seems a little extreme. Why would he have computer files with information about his evil plan, anyway? It’s more the sort of thing that gets written on parchment in some kind of blood, not typed up on a computer.
Oz (with black hair this week) catches Willow in the hall at school. He had a gig with his band, and she’s bummed that she neither went to it nor knew it was happening. She’s feeling more and more like a boring person with nothing in her life but schoolwork. She catches up to Percy and tries to arrange for some tutoring, but to him, a tutor is someone who does his homework for him. He tells Willow to get on it and leaves. Her unhappiness intensifies.
She sits in the courtyard and decides she will eat her banana early, because she’s a rebel.
Buffy and Xander come along, and because Willow remembered to do an assignment they both forgot about, Buffy calls her “old reliable.” Willow takes offense. She’s feeling more and more like everyone thinks she’s a doormat. She threatens to become bold and daring, and she storms off. Anya finds her in the hall and asks for her help with a spell. Willow is disappointed when Anya assures her it won’t be dangerous.
They get set up for the spell. If it works, Anya’s necklace will be retrieved from the moment it was lost. They do the spell, and Willow sees flashes of the Wishverse. This scares her enough to attempt to thwart the spell. Her hand gets in the way of the sacred sand, and instead of Anya’s necklace appearing, Vamp Willow gets pulled out of the Wishverse and into the same warehouse where the Master was setting up his blood factory. Normal Willow and Anya aren’t aware of this, and Willow refuses to help Anya with a fresh attempt at the spell. Vamp Willow is very confused.
After nightfall, Vamp Willow walks the streets of Sunnydale. Unlike in the Wishverse, there are lots of happy humans wandering about, and no demons in sight. She goes to the Bronze, where one of the weirder bands in the series is playing. It’s not the vampire party town she remembers. She’s having less and less fun the longer she’s in this timeline. Percy bonks into her and gets in her face about not doing his history report. She unleashes vamp strength on him and is about to use him to improve her evening in a way that will entirely ruin his when Xander comes along. Thinking Percy is attacking Willow, he grabs him and shoves him away from her. She’s very happy to see Xander, which she demonstrates by getting handsy. She realizes that he’s not her Xander when he freaks out, and this makes her upset. Then Buffy arrives and tries not to act overly shocked about Willow’s extreme makeover. Vamp Willow flashes her vamp face at them when they try to stop her from leaving, and they watch her go, devastated.
Not too far away from the Bronze, Vamp Willow gets attacked by the Mayor’s committee of vampires. She beats them up and claims them as her own minions. She intends to turn the Prime Timeline into something that more closely resembles the Darkest Timeline.
Buffy and Xander go to the library to tell Giles that Willow has been turned into a vampire. All three of them are reeling, completely grief-stricken. Buffy blames herself. Then real Willow comes strolling into the library. The other three think she’s a vampire. Xander sticks a cross in her face. It does nothing, and then this happens:
One of my favorite nonverbal jokes in the series. They realize she’s still alive, and they all hug-attack her. Even Giles! It’s the first time Giles has hugged anyone (besides Jenny) onscreen! Yay! She isn’t as psyched about that as I am, though. He lets her go and apologizes. They explain about her vampire doppelgänger. Only it’s not something they can really explain.
Anya tries to get the Bronze’s bartender to give her a beer, but since she can’t actually prove she’s 1120 (which she is), she eventually settles for a soda. Angel asks Oz if he’s seen Buffy. He has not. Then Vamp Willow and her new minions show up. Oz is quietly devastated. He sends Angel to get backup. Vamp Willow uses a girl named Sandy as an example of what will happen to anyone who doesn’t play by her rules. (She’ll kill them. That’s what will happen.) And I must say, the vampface transformation effect is getting a lot slicker than it used to be.
Oz can’t help voicing his objections. Vamp Willow is bemused by his attitude, and Anya steps up to explain that Vamp Willow is from a different timeline. She can help her get her world back.
Real Willow is very creeped out by the idea of her vampire doppelgänger. Angel shows up to break the bad news that Willow’s dead. Willow waves at him and he greets her, then does a double-take. He still has no idea what’s going on, except that Vamp Willow has a bunch of minions at the Bronze. They head out to save the day, but Willow hangs back because there’s something she wants to get first. Before she can grab whatever it is, Vamp Willow grabs her!
The two Willows look each other up and down. Vamp Willow wants Willow’s help getting her back to the Wishverse…or maybe she could just turn Willow into a vampire too and they could have doppelgänger sex. This isn’t a plan Willow likes. They start fighting, and Willow manages to get her hands on the tranq gun in time to neutralize Vamp Willow before she can do too much damage.
The other Scoobies return and help her get Vamp Willow inside the book cage. Willow can hardly believe that’s what she’d be like as a vampire. Buffy assures her that vampires’ personalities aren’t informed by their former human selves. Angel starts to contradict her, then thinks better of it. Hmm. So does that mean Willow will eventually become evil, skanky, or gay? Eh. Two out of three would still count. The Scoobies still need to deal with the vamps at the Bronze. Buffy comes up with an idea that might help them minimize the risk of collateral damage.
This idea involves Willow dressing up in Vamp Willow’s outfit and going into the Bronze in her place. Which raises questions. How did they get Vamp Willow out of her clothes? Did Xander, Giles, and Angel go out into the hall while Buffy and Willow handled that part? And why were they so thorough in dressing Vamp Willow in Willow’s outfit? Did they really need to go as far as putting on the tights and the shoes? The sweater and the skirt would’ve been sufficient to preserve her modesty for the library they all assumed would remain empty until they returned. Okay, I’m aware I’m once again demonstrating my tendency to think too much. I’ll stop now.
Angel does recon and finds that the vamp minions are still waiting for Vamp Willow to come back; they haven’t killed anyone yet. Willow is very uncomfortable in Vamp Willow’s outfit. She is also a terrible actress, but the result is hilarious. She manages to get two of the minions to go outside (where they are immediately grabbed and staked by the Buffy/Angel tag-team). She also does an adorable wave to Oz to let him know it’s her. He’s relieved.
Vamp Willow wakes up in the book cage. A few seconds later, Cordelia comes into the library wearing a gorgeous sparkly dress. She’s here to return some books. She’s definitely not hoping to run into Wesley. Nope. Not at all.
Vamp Willow tries to get Cordelia to let her out, but Cordelia decides this is a great opportunity to chew Willow out about stealing Xander from her.
At the Bronze, Anya and the main vamp minion figure out that Willow isn’t Vamp Willow once she starts talking about letting all the humans go and giving them a thirty second head start.
Vamp Willow is extremely bored by Cordelia’s lecture. She offers an apology just to get it over with. It works, and the second Cordelia lets her out, she flashes her fangs. Cordelia runs screaming through the halls. Wesley has just entered, and he does the funniest little jump when he hears her screaming, but for the life of me I CANNOT FIND A GIF OF IT. ARGH WHY HAVE YOU FAILED ME, INTERNET?! Anyway. He runs towards the screams and catches up in time to ward Vamp Willow off with a cross and a bottle of holy water, and he is SUCH a dork the whole time and I LOVE HIM SO MUCH. Then this happens.
His jump in the hall is still my favorite, but that one is funny too. He asks if that vampire was Willow. Cordelia says it was. Such a shame. Then she tries to ask him out.
Willow gives the signal (her screaming), and Buffy and Angel come bursting in to fight the vampires. Willow manages to land a good punch on Anya’s face. All of the humans escape (except Devon, who is trying to go out the same way Angel did earlier, only he’s not strong enough, so he’s mostly just dangling there). Vamp Willow arrives and ends up fighting Willow. Buffy defeats her vampire foes in time to rescue Willow from Vamp Willow, but Willow doesn’t want her to stake Vamp Willow.
After the Willows switch outfits again, the Scoobies get Anya to help them send Vamp Willow back to the Wishverse. Where she immediately gets staked by Oz.
The next day in the Prime Timeline, Willow is harboring extra guilty feelings on behalf of Vamp Willow. She doesn’t want to ever become like that. And then the one good thing that came of Vamp Willow’s visit shows up: Percy! Who has gone above and beyond in doing his own homework. This tutoring gig suddenly doesn’t look so bad, and Willow is cured of her extra guilty feelings. Buffy and Willow make plans to do fun stuff later that night. (I guess, technically, Percy’s turnaround was one of two good things Vamp Willow accomplished. The other was diverting the hit squad the Mayor sent after human Willow. If Vamp Willow hadn’t appeared when she did, Willow’s life would have been in much greater danger.)
It’s the first truly Willow-centric episode since “I Robot, You Jane,” only this time, it’s actually an episode worthy of Willow. In fact, we even get two Willows for the price of one! “Doppelgängland” is an absolute blast. It’s hilarious, it’s interesting, and it fits into the season arc without needing to focus on it. It would have been such a shame if the Wishverse had only shown up in one episode, because it was such a fascinating concept. This episode combines one of the most intriguing elements of the Wishverse with the regular Buffyverse, which makes for a fantastic best of both worlds scenario.
Since this is such a Willow-centric episode, most of the other characters don’t really have much to do. I do love that it was Buffy’s idea for Willow to pretend to be Vamp Willow for the sake of saving lives. She describes it as a bad idea, but I think it was fantastic—not just because it’s hilarious, but because it’s kind of what Willow needed. She was feeling like such a doormat, but she got to play a key role in keeping a whole bunch of people safe. I think the faith Buffy showed in Willow by suggesting this idea probably meant a lot to her.
As much as Willow thinks she lets people push her around, there are several examples well before the end of the episode of her standing up to people. She refuses to let Anya keep using her for magic once she realizes her intentions are bad. She doesn’t just let Vamp Willow attack her; she grabs the tranq gun and shoots her. If she was a doormat, she wouldn’t have been brave enough to into the Bronze in that leather outfit.
I think Xander has the least to do of anyone, but his reaction to Willow’s alleged death is just as touching/hilarious as Buffy’s and Giles’s. I like Xander in this episode. Except for when he goes into total drool mode when Willow uncomfortably notes how much cleavage the leather outfit shows off. Real classy, Xander. For the most part, though, he’s in rare form, just being a good friend and bringing the funny.
For all the examples we’ve had of how much Giles cares about Buffy, we’ve had comparatively little about how much he cares about Willow. This episode certainly clears that up. He hug-attacks her! Which is just the best. And it’s always funny when Giles has no clue how to explain what’s going on.
It’s like the arrival of Wesley suddenly breathed new life and purpose into Cordelia’s character. She can be hilarious without being mean to the Scoobies again. It’s great. And based on the way she handles Vamp Willow, it seems that while she might be over Xander, she’s still harboring some bitterness over the situation.
Oz’s conversations with Devon are always great. I think Devon thinks Dingoes Ate My Baby is the greatest band in the world, and Oz is careful not to be sarcastic enough to actually shatter his illusion. Also, even though Oz’s emotions are always muted, you can really see his devastation when it appears that Willow has been turned into a vampire. And then his subsequent relief when he finds out that isn’t the case.
Angel continues to be awesome. I love him and Buffy ambushing vampires together. So romantic! And when he comes to break the news about Willow, it’s so adorable. You can sort of see him struggling for a way to break that news gently, but he can’t come up with anything and just says it. Aww. I think this episode is the first time he and Oz have actually have a conversation, and I love it so much. I could watch a whole episode of the two of them just hanging out. They could fight some monsters, have monosyllabic chats about how great Buffy and Willow are, and just sit in comfortable silence. Another thing I don’t think I noticed before about Angel in this episode is that when they go to the Bronze, he gives Xander and Giles an order, and they just follow it! It’s such a small thing, but it’s nice to see that whatever objections they may have to him, his ability to strategize is not one of them. He feels more like part of the group than he has in a long time.
“That place has a very unsavory reputation. There are immoral liaisons going on there.”
“Yeah, plus all the screwing.”
“Ugh. What a day. Give me a beer.”
“I’M ELEVEN HUNDRED AND TWENTY YEARS OLD, JUST GIVE ME A FREAKING BEER!”
“Give me a coke.”
“Hands! Hands in new places!”
The Watcher's Diary
In this blog, I'll be reviewing, analyzing, and generally fangirling over excellent television. Exhibit A: the Whedonverse.