Written by Jane Espenson
Directed by Christopher Hibler
Xander is kind of bummed that Riley left, and is having trouble processing it. Anya would appreciate that if he ever decides to leave, he gives her a big warning ahead of time and then doesn’t actually leave. They snuggle. Anya wonders if Buffy’s the reason her guys keep leaving. Riley doesn’t think it’s a pattern, but he does think Buffy won’t be dealing with it well.
Buffy is at an abbey, fighting the vampire attacking it. Once he’s dust, she asks one of the nuns what nun life is like. She might be interested in swearing off men, but she’s not sure how she feels about the whole being super religious part.
New S5 credits! Riley isn’t in them anymore.
Buffy is training with Giles. He’s contacted the Watchers’ Council (and will be going to England to meet with them), hoping they can help with Glory. Buffy wants to make sure he doesn’t mention Dawn to them. She’d prefer to not even mention the Key to them at all. The Riley topic comes up, and Buffy is pretty confident she’ll be okay.
Anya is psyched that Giles will be gone for a week. She’s very confident she can take care of the Magic Box by herself. Willow’s hair is super cute now that she’s got it all curly like that.
This is definitely my favorite Willow hair. That’s how I attempted to do my hair for my high school graduation. It mostly worked.
Anya gets annoyed when Willow, Tara, and Buffy keep talking like they will be making sure the store is okay while Giles is gone. Xander believes in Anya. Giles isn’t sure Anya has enough social finesse to deal with the customers by herself. Willow assures Giles that with her and Anya working together, things will be better than ship-shape, they’ll be shop-shape!
Willow and Anya start arguing with each other vicariously through Xander, who would rather talk to Buffy about her slaying. It wasn’t too exciting. Except for the part where the nun let Buffy try on her wimple. Buffy thought that was pretty cool.
At the Summers house that night, Buffy finds Joyce wearing real clothes instead of a bathrobe. She and Dawn stand in awe. They get in a little affectionate ribbing, then head to Buffy’s room. Dawn wants to hang out with Buffy, which Buffy is fine with as long as Dawn breaks nothing. The pictures of Riley are gone, which apparently took a while. Dawn feels like Riley leaving happened really fast, but Buffy says it was pretty gradual—at least, according to everyone else. She didn’t see it coming at all. Dawn sits with Buffy and tries to get Buffy to talk to her about it. Buffy admits that it hurts a lot. Dawn says it’ll get better. Aww, cute sister moment. Buffy has a little bitty hope that Riley might come back.
Spike, using the mannequin from the dump, is practicing an apology-with-chocolates to Buffy for the way he blew Riley’s dark secret. It doesn’t go well. He ends up yelling and swearing and bashing the mannequin over the head with the chocolates. Yeeeeeah...that could use some work. He tries again, even though the box is very destroyed and the mannequin’s wig is very askew now.
Willow is doing inventory or something at the Magic Box with Tara, and they mention Amy the Rat. Oh, and Willow isn’t doing inventory so much as taking Magic Box stuff and doing spells with it right there in the middle of the shop. This particular spell, if it works, could provide Buffy with portable balls of sunlight to use against vampires. But Anya doesn’t appreciate Willow not paying for the ingredients before using them. Willow confuses her by comparing her to the fish in The Cat in the Hat. Then she offers to show Anya some magic stuff, an offer Anya almost accepts, until she realizes it’s peer pressure.
Xander arrives and promptly lands himself in the middle of another Willow/Anya fight. He hides behind Tara. Willow uses some powder and makes the cash register disappear. Anya freaks out. Willow makes it reappear, but with the receipt tape all spun out and the money smoking a little. She and Anya get into a pretty heated fight at this point. Xander tells them to work it out themselves and leaves. They try to use Tara as a mediator instead, and she leaves too.
Later, Willow is doing her sunshine spell, and Anya is marking the prices of all the ingredients she’s using. The spell requires a lot of concentration, so Anya talking would ruin it. Anya talks anyway, and Willow abandons the spell to argue with her. The spell grows unchecked and releases a troll from a crystal under the counter. Oops. He roars, smashes a bunch of shelves of things, then stomps out into the street.
Buffy and Tara have just attended their first classes of the new semester. Buffy starts talking about Riley. She doesn’t want to take classes that would remind her of him, but she’s pretty sure she’s getting some perspective about it all now. But then, when Tara tells her about Xander leaving the Magic Box because of Anya and Willow’s fight, Buffy gets super upset at the thought of Xander/Anya relationship trouble. Tara tries to explain it better, but it backfires. Buffy ends up crying and ranting about how even the tiniest thing can spin out of control and destroy a relationship. She sobs into a bemused Tara’s shoulder.
Anya and Willow are driving Giles’s car through town while Willow tries to find the reversal spell. That might be difficult, because Anya doesn’t actually know how to drive. They follow the debris the troll is leaving behind.
Xander is at the Bronze, where he bonks into Spike. He tells Spike to go away and then sits down at a table. Spike decides he has nothing better to do than be obnoxious, so he follows him. He tries to find out from Xander if Buffy is still angry with him. Xander doesn’t even know what he’s talking about.
Buffy and Tara find the trashed Magic Box. Tara is extremely worried about Willow. They leave, following the troll’s trail. The troll is rampaging happily through town. He’s like Thor if instead of being a chivalrous hunk of honorable warrior, Thor was just a big ugly dudebro—smashing stuff just for fun and completely ignorant of how huge of a douche he is. He smells ale and heads in that direction.
Xander and Spike are now playing pool. Xander’s complete lack of actual guyfriends, combined with the absence of Riley and Giles, means Spike is his only option for talking about his relationship woes. He hates how Willow thinks he’s nuts for being with Anya, and he wishes Anya would be friendlier with his best friend. Spike keeps bringing up Buffy, which Xander is starting to find really weird, but then in comes the troll. And wow, did Spike just back down from a fight? I thought he was all about fights he isn’t sure he’ll win. The troll grabs a metal keg of beer, bites a hole in it, and drains it in one go. Then he asks the “barmaid” to bring him stronger ale and some succulent babies. Xander decides it’s time to get Buffy. The troll asks them where he can find babies, and Xander tries to keep him calm and non-violent.
Anya and Willow arrive. Then Buffy and Tara arrive. The troll is working on his second keg of beer while all the Bronze’s patrons stare at him. Why aren’t they fleeing yet? This would be a good time to start inching towards the exits. Spike decides that now is a good moment to try that apology on the real Buffy instead of mannequin Buffy. But then Anya starts tattling on Willow to Buffy, so Spike backs off. Willow tries to do the spell to undo her first spell, but the troll notices. Oh hey, and apparently he’s Anya’s ex. He cheated on her, she turned him into a troll, and D’Hoffryn was so impressed that he offered her the vengeance demon gig.
Troll Ex starts smashing things again because of his anger at Anya, but Xander points out that he seems to like being a troll, so what’s the problem? Witches trapped him in a crystal for centuries, that’s what’s the problem. Willow starts the spell again. It doesn’t work. Buffy starts fighting him. So does Spike, but he gets knocked down immediately. Buffy gets knocked on top of him, and he totally cops a feel when she’s trying to get back up. Gross. Troll Ex smashes all the pillars holding up the Bronze’s loft area, which collapses. On Buffy!
She lifts it off herself, but not before Troll Ex leaves. Buffy gives out assignments, then helps lift rubble off other injured people. Spike is making one girl comfortable, and then tells Buffy how even though he totally could be licking the blood off people’s wounds, he wouldn’t dream of it because she wouldn’t like it. Buffy can’t believe he wants credit for not feeding off wounded disaster victims, and she leaves. Here, Spike, you can have this.
Willow and Anya are working on spells to stop Troll Ex. They get sidetracked with more arguing. This time it’s about how Anya is bad at being a human. For once, the argument is productive, because we finally get to the bottom of why Willow doesn’t like Anya. She thinks Anya might hurt Xander, and she already felt justified about it because Anya is an ex-demon, but now here’s Anya’s ex-boyfriend who is a troll because he pissed her off. What if she does that to Xander too? And what if she hurts him in other ways? Anya has similar complaints against Willow. She knows why Xander and Cordelia broke up. What if Willow tries that again, now? And Willow knows Xander so much better than Anya.
In comes Troll Ex, whose name is Olaf. He picks both girls up and hurls them over the counter. Xander arrives, furious and protective. But good intentions aren’t everything. Olaf doesn’t even really hit him, he just kind of runs into the hammer and falls down. Then Olaf picks him up and actually hits him, sending him flying across the Magic Box. Olaf hits him again. More of the store gets trashed. Xander keeps trying. Olaf decides to reward him for his valiance by letting one of the girls live. Xander gets to pick!
Xander refuses to pick, and he coins one of my favorite trope names: Insane Troll Logic. Olaf breaks Xander’s right wrist and says he’ll just kill Xander, then. Anya begs him to kill her instead. Willow tries another spell. It just vanishes the cash register again. Buffy and Tara arrive, and Anya warns Buffy that Olaf’s strength is in the hammer. While Willow works on another spell and Buffy fights Olaf, Anya works on distracting Olaf by insulting him. I just noticed that Olaf’s speech patterns are very similar to Anya’s, and that’s hilarious. Willow gets the hammer away from Olaf. Buffy tries attacking him again, but he knocks her across the shop. So much for all of his strength being in the hammer.
Olaf hits Buffy’s current berserk button by mocking her for fighting for a weaksauce love like Xander and Anya’s. She beats the crap out of him. It’s unclear if she kills him or just knocks him out. Then Willow transports him to another world, hopefully the land of the trolls. We get our second mention of the world without shrimp. Tara is interested, because she’s allergic. Buffy is happy Olaf is gone and that she gets to keep his hammer, which breaks through the glass case she gently sets it on. Whoops. Buffy starts crying again about Xander and Anya.
Giles is back! He and Buffy are talking in the Summers dining room, and Joyce joins them with tea. Seems the Watchers don’t actually know anything, but they’re interested and have theories. Dawn comes downstairs in time to overhear them talking about her. They don’t say anything specific, but Dawn is very troubled and curious.
There are some things I really like about “Triangle.” A lot of the humor is excellent (but not all of it). The Willow vs. Anya stuff is fantastic. They’ve never liked each other, and they’ve never really dealt with it. Olaf and the destruction he causes is of course the Plot A metaphor for Willow and Anya’s rivalry, which is both effective and amusing. I also love that this happens while Giles is out of town. It makes it so much funnier, while providing the setup for the Watchers’ Council’s arrival in the next episode. Buffy’s scene with Dawn was very sweet, too, and the final scene brings Dawn closer to discovering the truth. How smoothly this episode goes even though it’s the first one after Riley’s departure sort of proves how unnecessary he had become to the story. Now for what I didn’t like. I’m never going to be amused by Spike’s stalker-with-a-crush antics, but the weakest link in this episode, for me, was the way post-breakup Buffy is portrayed. Why does her pain over Riley leaving her (which, with Angel having left, Parker having used and discarded her, and her dad having become the absentee deadbeat type, officially creates enough of a pattern to give her some serious abandonment issues) get turned into something so sitcom-esque? Just because the relationship was boring and bland doesn’t mean a breakup that messy should be played for laughs. Or, it should at least not be played for such lazy laughs. More on that in the Buffy character analysis.
Buffy dissolving into hysterics about Xander and Anya as an extension of her emotions about Riley leaving makes no sense. She’s never seemed to have an opinion about Xander/Anya one way or the other, but now she gets this worked up about them when they aren’t actually having relationship problems? I don’t get it. It’s clearly supposed to be funny, but it’s just kind of stupid. It also makes it really hard to figure out how much Riley actually meant to her. After Angel told Buffy he was leaving, Buffy was so broken up about it that she could barely breathe. She didn’t get hysterical and ridiculous. She was quiet and solemn and eager to vent her feelings on those hellhounds so that everyone else could have prom night. I have no idea how to interpret hysterical, ridiculous Buffy, because I can’t take her seriously at all.
Xander’s being my favorite version of himself again. He refuses to let two people he loves use him against each other, and he doesn’t hesitate to fight a troll twice his size and several times stronger than him if there’s even a tiny chance that he can protect them. I also like that he misses Riley, and I still really wish he had a guyfriend. His willingness to discuss relationship problems with Spike proves how desperately he needs a guyfriend. But after everything he said to Buffy at the end of “Into the Woods,” I’m kind of disappointed that there wasn’t a scene where he and Buffy talked about it. She tried to follow his advice, but she was too late. Can’t he say something to make her feel better?
If Willow didn’t like Anya because she was worried a former vengeance demon whose specialty was inflicting gruesome revenges on men would be no good for Xander, then why didn’t she just say that a long time ago? All I remember is her occasionally making a sarcastic joke about it, but that’s not petty or unfounded—it’s a legitimate complaint. As much as I like the way her and Anya’s rivalry plays out in this episode, it doesn’t really make sense that Willow’s issues wouldn’t have come up much earlier in Xander and Anya’s relationship.
The similarities between Anya’s and Olaf’s speech patterns make me wonder if Vikings were just super blunt about saying what they really thought all the time. Because that would be both awesome and hilarious.
Dawn can be a very good little sister when she wants to be (which, I think, is most of the time). I love how tentative she is about getting Buffy to open up to her about her Riley issues. It’s so sweet, and I think Buffy really needed that. But now she knows something is up about her, and Giles, Buffy, and Joyce all know but are keeping it a secret.
The scene where Spike gets into an angry argument with a mannequin lends more weight to what I’ve said in a couple of recent reviews about him. Buffy doesn’t have to do anything at all for him to be able to convince himself she’s obsessed with him (even if it’s only in an angry way). He thinks she was on the warpath against him for the way he revealed what Riley was up to, but that was the last thing on her mind. And now that Riley’s gone, he’s already doing things to try to score points with her. Gross.
I love that Giles doesn’t hesitate to go to England to meet with the Council if there’s even a tiny chance that they can help Buffy and Dawn. They fired him and seemed to treat him like crap long before that, so it would’ve been understandable if he’d had trouble swallowing his pride about them, but he doesn’t.
“I’m envious, Mr. Giles. A trip to England sounds so exciting and exotic. ...Unless you’re English.”
“We can come by between classes! Usually I use that time to copy over my class notes with a system of different colored pens, but it’s been pointed out to me that that’s, you know, insane.”
“I wish Buffy was here!”
[Buffy arrives] “I’m here!”
“I wish I had a million dollars!” [everyone stares at her] “Just checking.”
The Watcher's Diary
In this blog, I'll be reviewing, analyzing, and generally fangirling over excellent television. Exhibit A: the Whedonverse.