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Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Doppelgangland

Buffy: "So you want to go out tonight?"
Willow: "Strangely, I feel like staying at home. And doing my homework. And flossing. And dying a virgin."

Evil double plots are done to death, but they can be marvelous when they're done well. And this one was done exceptionally well. It was very clever and very funny, with one liners coming thick and fast and everyone wonderfully in character. Alyson Hannigan again did a superb job as Willow, vamp Willow, and Willow playing vamp Willow.

It's interesting that Willow does have something of a bad girl within. She resented being boring old reliable and wanted to be sexy. But perhaps not that sexy. What was really freaky was vamp Willow wanting to have sex with herself. Now, where did that come from? The vampire personality isn't a reflection of the real person, now, is it?

There were so many scenes I just loved in this episode:

— Willow saying to Snyder, "You want us to breed?"

— Xander pointing the cross at real Willow, and then shaking it to make it work.

— Real Willow in very tight leather, breaking character to wave at Oz.

— Angel's scene in the library. "Something's happened. Willow's dead. Hey, Willow... wait a second." Big favorite bit of mine.

And they brought back Anya from "The Wish," and she was absolutely hilarious. "I'm eleven hundred and twenty years old! Give me a frigging beer!"

Faith made a sexual overture to the Mayor, which wasn't surprising. But interestingly enough, the Mayor made it clear that their relationship was definitely in the father/daughter range, making sort of a dark parallel to Giles and Buffy. I'm starting to lean toward the "Faith must die" contingent. She sold out Buffy for a Playstation and a Sealy Posturepedic?

Bits and pieces:

— Why did they leave alt.Willow alone in the cage? They never leave Oz alone in the cage. It made for a fun Cordelia scene, but still. And speaking of Cordelia, she seems to have moved on to Wesley. They sort of make a revoltingly cute couple.

— Willow floated a pencil.

— So Willow is still a virgin? Barry White didn't work, I guess.

— In this week's hair report, Oz was back and had pitch black hair.

— Obligatory dog reference: Old Yeller.


Anya: "For a thousand years I wielded the powers of The Wish. I brought ruin to the heads of unfaithful men. I brought forth destruction and chaos for the pleasure of the lower beings. I was feared and worshiped across the mortal globe. And now I'm stuck at Sunnydale High, mortal. A child. And I'm flunking math."

Willow: "Competition is natural and healthy. Plus, you'll definitely ace her on the psych tests. Just don't mark the box that says, 'I sometimes like to kill people'."
Buffy: "I know Faith's not gonna be on the cover of Sanity Fair, but... she had it rough. Different circumstances, that could be me."

Snyder: "You've got the brains, he's got the fast break. It's a perfect match."
Willow: "Match? You want us to breed?"

Buffy: "So he threatened you? With what?"
Willow: "Well, it wasn't exactly anything he said. It was all in his eyes. I mean, there was some nostril work as well, but mostly eyes."

Willow: "No, it's fine. I'm 'Old Reliable'."
Xander: "She just means, you know, the geyser. You're like a geyser of fun that goes off at regular intervals."
Willow: "That's Old Faithful."
Xander: "Isn't that the dog that, that the guy had to shoot..."
Willow: "That's Old Yeller."

Willow: "Okay, that's a little blacker than I like my arts."

Anya: "I swear, I am just trying to find my necklace."
Willow: "Well, did you try looking inside the sofa in Hell?"

Giles: "She was truly the finest of all of us."
Xander: "Way better than me."
Giles: "Much, much better."

Willow: "It's really nice that you guys missed me. Say, you all didn't happen to do a bunch of drugs, did ya?"
Xander: "Will, we saw you at the Bronze. A vampire."
Willow: (indignant) "I'm not a vampire."
Buffy: "You are. I mean, you, you were. Giles, planning on jumping in with an explanation any time soon?"
Giles: "Well, uh... something... something, um, very strange is happening."
Xander: "Can you believe the Watcher's Council let this guy go?"

Devon: "Man, we need a roadie. Other bands have roadies."
Oz: "Well, other bands know more than three chords. Your professional bands can play up to six, sometimes seven completely different chords."
Devon: "That's just, like, fruity jazz bands."

Buffy: "It was exactly you, Will, every detail. Except for your not being a dominatrix. As far as we know."
Willow: "Oh, right. Me and Oz play Mistress of Pain every night."
Xander: "Did anyone else just go to a scary visual place?"

Evil Willow: "Wanna be bad?"
Willow: "This just can't get more disturbing."

Willow: "That's me as a vampire? I'm so evil and skanky. And I think I'm kinda gay."
Buffy: "Willow, just remember, a vampire's personality has nothing to do with the person it was."
Angel: "Well, actually... that's a good point."

An undeniably great episode. Four out of four stakes,

Billie Doux reviewed all of Buffy and Angel, so she knows the plural of apocalypse.


  1. I LOVE this episode. This was one had me in stitches and was so much fun. This is Alyson at her best and she really proves herself to be a great actress. My favourite scene was when Good Willow pretended to be Bad Willow in the Bronze - I was in stitches! And I loved the cute little wave she gave to Oz to let him know it was her - aww! :)

  2. Willow's little wave to Oz is adorable. I'm not surprised they ended up putting it in the credits next season.

  3. We have established that Xander hates Angel when Angel is a GOOD guy, is willing to have Angel killed when Angel is a GOOD guy, etc etc, and yet Xander is so mind-screwed when he finds out that Willow is-or-isn't a vampire that he resorts to calling Angel "Buddy." Clearly, he is pretty messed up about what's happening and his brain isn't working. More than usual.

    And of course, the character development with Willow learning that she can actually be confident, assertive, and kinda gay.

    I had to.

  4. A willow-centric episode! Gotta be good. She's one of my favorites. And it was.

    I enjoyed having her doppelganger from the opposite universe back and coming face to face with this universe's willow (all this talk of alternate universes, I feel like I'm writing a comment on a "Fringe" review). There was a lot of clever dialogue. I particularly loved Allyson's delivery of both "And I think I"m kind of gay!", "This can't get more disturbing"...

    I also really enjoyed Cordelia boring vampire-willow to death while she was trapped in the cage. And it was perfect having vamp-willow thrilled to get back to her universe only to get killed right away. Great episode.

  5. Your final quote is my favorite of this wonderful episode. So much is conveyed just through the looks that everyone gives each other as Angel hastily backpedals. It always makes me laugh out loud.

    Unlike so many of the rest of you, I am not a huge Willow fan. I am, however, a huge fan of this episode and all kudos to Hannigan for pulling it off.

  6. The hug that Giles give Willow after the gang has already assaulted her after learning she's not dead is one of my favorite moments of the series. This - along with the upcoming earshot - are the one-offs that make season 3 so great. Joss either had more than his share of coffee when he wrote this one or he told his players to go to town because they were absolutely hilarious. And yes, thank you, Anya.

  7. This episode still makes me laugh out loud no many how times I see it.

  8. Lots of fun in this one.

    Still loving the Mayor:
    (rejecting Faith's advances): None of that. I'm a family man. Now, let's kill your little friend."

    And Willow:
    "I'm eating this banana, lunchtime be damned!"
    Such a rebel.

    And Bad Willow getting in a little grope when Good Willow hugged her at the end.

    I loved Oz & Angel's little exchange when Bad Willow's gang came into the Bronze. It was like they were having a laconic competition.

    A fun break after the last couple of episodes

  9. I don’t think there are words to describe how much I love this episode. I love it more each time, too, which is saying a lot.

    Whenever I watch something Jossy, I think of a commentary he did once (it might be on the Buffy pilot), where he talks about wanting to avoid shooting a TV show like it is “radio with faces.” That is, he wants to create visual interest and character-relevant (silent) actions in addition to dialogue. The pencil scene, for instance, with Buffy doing sit-ups: something is happening beyond just the conversation.

    In the last bit of the scene in the Bronze, Devin (the lead singer of Dingoes) is trying to climb up a bunch of chains for no good reason. We never find out why, no one mentions it, so that quick glimpse creates a sense that Devin has this whole escape planned out that involves Tarzaning his way up a bunch of chains to the rafters and beyond. A whole little narrative expressed in about one second of screen time.

    Yep, Joss Whedon is my master now. And still.

  10. I'd forgotten how fun this episode was. Glad to have a really fun episode especially after the darkness of consequences.

    A favorite moment is when Willow, dressed as a vampire, gives Oz a tiny wave... so cute.

  11. Only got to watch half of this episode yesterday and I just finished it today. What a great episode! After complaining about the lack of zingers in Consequences we got more than our fair share here. As others have said, this episode highlights the depth and breadth of Hannigan's talent. I even started to like evil Willow by the end. Wouldn't it be interesting if we could all see what our alter ego looked/acted like? Loved that Willow punched Anya at the end. She was particularly annoying in this episode. For an ancient being she sure has an adolescent temperament.

  12. I've gotten a little behind, but I'm determined to catch up today!

    Anyone who's read my comments probably won't be surprised that I LOVED this episode. It is definitely one of my favorites so far. Alyson Hannigan was amazing as all of the Willows. (Billie, I think you left out one in the beginning of the review. She also played Bad Willow pretending to be good Willow in the scene with Cordelia. Which brings it to 4 different Willows!)

    I loved all of the subtlety in each interaction, between watching AH change to watching people who were confused about who they were talking to.

    My favorite non-Willow moments were the scene where Buffy, Xander, and Giles are mourning her (your quote from that element is perfect) and the stoic conversation in the midst of chaos between Oz and Angel.

    The whole episode was wonderful and I kind of wanted to just watch it again instead of moving on because my Spidey senses are telling me that something big is coming with Faith's betrayal and the mayor...can't we just live in a funny world where Willow and Oz are cute for a little longer?

  13. On my virginal Buffy run This was quite a fun episode and I see Zeppo, Bad Girls and this one as a sort of trilogy, in that each centers around one character who acts out to a degree under the influence of others. I think Doppelgangland was probably the strongest because Vampire Willow is such fun, but the Xander-centric one was good too. In both of those episodes, we could understand the insecurity which caused them to take questionable actions, and both eventually drew the line because of their essential goodness--earlier in Willow's case, but she wasn't in the same sort of danger. While to do it with Buffy too was an interesting choice, I had a few problems with it. One was that while pre-Anne buffy struggled with her Slayer identity, I feel like she's come to terms with it, and isn't bridling against the responsibility anymore. And I didn't see the motivation for her to go along with Faith on the robbery because I don't think she cares that Faith thinks she's a stick in the mud.

    My only issue with this episode was that Fate being in the Library seemed like a continuity error. After I saw her in the mayor's office, I assumed that she would be out of contact (and presumed out of town) with the gang. The Council's not making much sense to me. It seems like Watchers aren't in short supply, and they're not all that big on Giles (they don't invite him to the retreat and they fire him), so why would they ever have given him responsibility for a second slayer after Fate's watcher's death? I considered the possibility that they knew she was unstable and another Slayer might be a good influence but Buffy doesn't strike me as the Council's ideal (I expect Kendra was). And then they let Wesley council her rather than shipping her to England after she escapes? Really? The only way I can make any sense of it is if the Mayor is pulling strings on the Watcher Council somehow.

  14. An awesome episode. Not much to add, other than a potential second dog reference that I Spot-ted:

    How come the sudden calisthenics?
    Aren't you sort of naturally buff, Buff?
    Buff Buff.
    [lets out tongue for a moment, as a dog might]

    I'm reading the Buff Buff as a "woof woof".

    The "much, much better" line had me laughing hard. An odd contrast with the rather somber scene.

    I liked Oz and Cordelia being in this episode (Cordelia's lecturing of evil Willow being particularly hilarious). I've been thinking they've been lacking in screentime this season. Cordelia was to be expected, but I had kind of hoped that Oz would become a full-fledged member of the scoobie gang. He's been mostly absent during their escapades.

    ps. Billie, a belated thank you for taking care of those spoilery comments last week!

  15. Frank, thank *you* for pointing out those comments. We read every comment and try really hard to keep Doux spoiler-free, but sometimes they just get past me. Please don't hesitate.

  16. My opinion one of the funniest episodes in all of Buffy. Giles saying “much much better” I literally laugh out loud every time. And Wesley’s scream in the bathroom? Can’t get enough.

  17. I gotta say: If I had to pick a single short quote from this episode to be a summarizing headline for it, I don't think that I ever could pick anything other than "Holy God! You're Willow!"
    But that's me. :-)

  18. My favorite part of the episode is vamp Willow scaring the crap out of Percy. The end where he's done double homework and leaves an apple for her before leaving quickly in fear was possibly one of the funniest things I've ever seen!

    I also love the Willow as vamp Willow scene where she says "Can humans do this?
    Anya and vampire: "Yeah, yeah.. humans do that!"


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