Yes, I am still being manly and calling you Joss! But why not, since season one, when My Year Of Buffy entered Sunnydale High for the first time, we have been getting to know each other.
So in my season one report I blathered on about your first half season, and with my season two Report Card I went on and on about your first full season. And now Joss, I have to find a way to wedge the word season more into the last sentence.
Now Joss, what you have been waiting for, my SPOILED FILLED post of Buffy The Vampire Slayers third season of awesomeness.
This was the year I believe you really got what you wanted Joss, a great moving character narrative with constant upheaval and plenty of drama and action.
But I did have some quibbles, which I will get to shortly.
Lets start with our favourite Slayer, Faith.
Just kidding Joss!
Buffy Summers, our real favourite Slayer, came back to town, dealt with her PTSD, and slowly learned responsibility. And maybe it was learning, and maybe it was because of the bad example Faith set? That is something theologians can debate for a millennium or two, but the point is Joss, we saw change with Buffy. She goes from a runaway almost homeless teen girl who then hides her former lover from her friends to someone who readily and easily treats Faith as an equal at Christmas and plans and executes multiple plans to take down the Mayor. Yes, occasionally she ventures into movie Buffy territory, and yes Joss I shall try and not mention that misstep as much anymore, like when she suddenly decides running for Homecoming Queen would be a great idea. I really think her big turning points were talking Angel out of killing himself, and being powerless on her eighteenth birthday. Both showed the Slayer is more than just physical strength, it is moral character.
And with any talk of Buffy, we have to then turn to her soulmate Angel. He comes back from, has to recover, regain his sanity, and somehow make up with Buffy over that whole messy Angelus business. This is all fine Joss, and has become a staple of yours, coming back from the badness infecting you, but you really upped the ante by having evil forces push Angel towards suicide. I could tell, even then, that this major turning point would lead to his own series. But in order to make this new direction, you had to break up Buffy and Angel.
And for that, Joss, we all hate you. Buffy And Angel. Together Forever.
That brings me to my next favourite Scooby. Willow, who has a mother finally seen and that takes my intense dislike of Joyce and multiplies that by a thousand. Seriously, drop Willow’s mother into the Hellmouth, for we will all cheer and eat popcorn. Anyway, back to Willow, Witch in training and second in command of the Scoobies. I have loved her coming into her own, both with her magic and its offensive capabilities, and with her backbone making people stop treating her like a doormat. Okay, that last part might be because of a Vampire duplicate from another dimension, but I still count that as progress. But the girl with the cool quaint sweaters has bungled a few things this year…
Which brings us to my least favourite Scooby, Xander. I still find him annoying to various degrees. Okay Joss, you got me, I find Xander annoying to every degree. His puppy lust for Buffy was incredibly obnoxious, his maturity level still way below his grade level, and his absorbed military training coming and going as the plot demanded. But even with all his partial uselessness, I still found the Scoobies out of character treatment of him in The Zeppo deplorable. Xander does have his uses, albeit limited, so treating him like a moron is stupid. One plot point with Xander, when is Buffy going to find out he lied in the season two finale? And shouldn’t Buffy have decked him after he goaded Faith into attacking Angel?
As for Willow and Xander together, this is the mistakes I was mentioning just a bit ago. This two should never have had their affair. It was stupid and wrong and made me seriously wonder about your sanity Joss. You made it clear this year that Xander has always sought solace from Willow, all because of his drunken parents, but I know he would respect Willow and Oz’s relationship. Yes, Willow is equally guilty, but it seemed like she at least, even wrongly, tried to fix the problem with magic. The horrific repercussions of this tryst, which I always assumed was sexual till I found later it wasn’t, was the lack of punishment. Oz took Willow back. Cordelia just got hurt and mean. But Buffy kinda laughed it off as illicit smoochies. The same Buffy who spazzed when she thought Angel and Faith were playing hide the stake.
Sticking with originals for the next part Joss, is Buffy’s parent figure Giles. The dude knows his Watcher job, and more importantly, how to take care of Buffy’s soul. Things the idiots on the Watchers Council have no clue about. He knows when Buffy comes back to Sunnydale that she is still troubled, and uses various gentle techniques to let the truth slip out and the healing slip in. And his anger at her over Angel’s hidden return is palpable and says so much of the father/daughter dynamic here. Heck Joss, you even have him break the rules of the idiotic Watchers Council, all because he knows Buffy’s true worth cannot be judged on some archaic rules. His only real downside is having sex with that woman claiming to be a caring mother, Joyce. Wonder what Giles would think of Joyce pushing Angel away from Buffy? The only good thing Joyce did was be nice to Faith, probably nicer than she has even been with Buffy.
This brings up Faith, Buffy’s Slayer sister in arms. She starts out as cool and fun and someone who enjoys life and all it entails. But very quickly Joss you show us how troubled she really is. And you keep piling it on! From alcoholic mother to losing so many people around her, Faith has some serious abandonment issues. Some of these problems she sorts through by having random sexual encounters, much like when she took Xander’s virginity. What started off as a refreshingly character trait, a young woman who enjoys her sexuality, quickly becomes something darker, with Faith substituting sex for love. It is also interesting Joss how easily she is manipulated, either by Post or the Mayor, all because she is so needy. Her eventual betrayal is not surprising in retrospect, but a definitive cry for help.
And for the record, Buffy would so kick Faith’s ass in a fight. Every. Single. Time.
And speaking of troubled young ladies, we have Cordelia. I actually grew to like her in season two, and her usefulness to the Scoobies. But right after Xander’s betrayal, she retreated emotionally and very quickly became season one Cordelia again. She understandably is angry at Xander, but after awhile it became excessive. Meanwhile, only once does she tell off Willow, and it is not even the right Willow. And that part makes perfect Buffy sense. So while we know Cordelia is shallow, having her come back to the Scoobies only because of lust for a much older man, the doofy Wesley, was really shallow. The late season money problems are such an obvious setup for Angel, but we don’t mind Joss.
Still love my Oz. And still love my Willow and Oz. And love my Oz’s deep thoughts in Earshot. And love Oz’s final lines in Graduation Day, Part 2. Oz is the Dude. Long Live The Oz!
Spike came back to provide one episode of drama and updates and great merriment. You really used our favourite snarky vampire well, Joss, and gave a jolt to the Buffy Angel relationship at precisely the right moment. Plus, I think Spike has made a new BFF with Willow.
Anya is an odd duck to me Joss. She seemed so thoroughly evil in The Wish with Cordelia, but when you brought her back, it took me awhile to get used to her. At times she felt parody-ish, other times like Drusilla 2.0. Also her pathological love for Zander still has me scratching my head. But I do so love Anya’s demon stories.
Last and certainly least, is the resident new Watcher for Buffy and Faith, the moronic Wesley. Seriously Joss, is Wesley supposed to be the Jar Jar of Buffy? He is useless, always doing the wrong thing, and is all pervy with a student. Also, what is his official day job? Assistant school librarian? This grown man in a suit just seems to hang around the high school.
This begs a question Joss. Who are the Watchers? How do they work? Why are they so stupid? And how come when a Slayer accidentally kills a human, they are only concerned with internal procedures, not the Slayers mental state or the victims family or that pesky detail called the cops?
The Watchers actually became villains this season. An interesting turn, since Mr. Trick was alright and I found the Mayor only creepy some of the time. Plus, why no reaction from the Scoobies when he was revealed to be evil? Post was crazy, but MOO had a too true real world feel to them. I would love to see The First Evil and Hansel and Gretel return, but not Ethan Rayne.
Snyder deserves special mention here. And I thank you Joss for killing him with extreme prejudice.
Unlike last season, I did not view this one through the couples, but as the group as a whole. I love when the Scoobies argue, not because I want them to, but they stay true to character. My tastes this season leaned towards the less purposely comedic episodes, which I find myself not liking, and towards the more dramatic ones with funny moments. Band Candy is the one exception to this rule. You really hit it home as well this season Joss with the issues, with teen suicide, alcoholic parents, affairs, self-esteem, loneliness, breakups, runaways, and knowing your mother had sex with your Watcher.
You gave me many many great shows in season three. Amoung my favs are Graduation Day Part 1, Graduation Day Part 2 (why were these yanked again??), The Prom, Earshot, Amends, Band Candy, Helpless, Gingerbread, The Wish, and Enemies. You expanded the Buffy world this year, than blew it up Joss, both literally and figuratively. I love how you are willing to break the show all the time, just to keep it moving and real.
One last thing Joss. Thank you giving our Slayer her moment. Buffy Summers – Class Protector. It is so true.
…is currently reading Men From Earth by Buzz Aldrin and Malcolm McConnell
P.S. When will Amy no longer be a rat?
P.P.S. Can’t wait for Angel’s show!