Posted by: thebuffyrewatch | January 8, 2012

Cordia’s Review: S3, E16 – Doppelgangland

Season 3, Episode 16
Original airing: 2/23/99

My Rating: 76

The Good: What an excellent way for an episode to focus on Willow. We’ve gotten to see some intense looks at Buffy and Xander, so it only makes sense for Willow to get a turn. And bringing back VampWillow from “The Wish” (S3E9) was pure genius. Alyson Hannigan really gets to showcase her acting skills. Not only does she have to play two very different yet interconnected characters, she then has to play one of those characters pretending to be the other character. And she does it all very, very well. This episode would have fallen apart under the weight of its own absurdity if it had been given to a lesser performer.

Having VampWillow also allowed the other actors to play a bit. They got to react to the “new” Willow and her supposed death. Buffy and Xander’s faces in the Bronze when VampWillow snarls at them are absolutely pitch perfect. And the scene in the library after they tell Giles is particularly well-conceived (see Favorite Moment).

Cordelia got to have a moment in the sun this week as well when she held VampWillow captive in the book cage to lecture her “about the ethics of boyfriend stealing”. This was brilliant as VampWillow had to pretend she was regular Willow and listen to Cordelia prattle on. The payback in her eyes when she finally gets out of the book cage is just wonderful.

Finally, I really enjoyed the short scene between Richard and Faith. Faith reacts to Richard’s generosity with a very sexual energy, which he quickly shuts down. It is reasonable to assume Faith would see things in a sexual light as it is her way of controlling men. But I like that Richard seems to be viewing Faith more as a trainee who he’s grooming and providing for. I also liked her face of actual concern when he suggests killing Willow. Too bad it disappears so quickly.

The Bad: Anyanka was the most annoying part of this episode for me. She spends most of her time on screen complaining. She has quite a bit to be bitter about (turning human, losing her necklace, and being forced to only drink soda), but that didn’t stop her from wearing on me very quickly. I wanted to cheer “hear hear!” when Willow suggests the blood bath should start with Anyanka.

In contrast to the good reactions, we have some bad ones from Cordelia and Wesley. When they think Willow has been turned into a vampire, it’s quickly dismissed for a joke. Poor form.

Favorite Moment: I could have easily picked out a half dozen moments in this episode to talk about, but the one I appreciated the most as a critical viewer was the scene in the library where Buffy, Xander, and Giles think Willow is dead. For an episode about misidentity, this was a lovely serious moment. I appreciated that the show had them react as I would expect if Willow really was dead. But I also appreciate that the real Willow quickly walked in so things weren’t carried too far.

The Bottom Line: This episode was a fun look at Willow’s personality.


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