Posted by: thebuffyrewatch | January 29, 2012

Cordia’s Review: S3, E19 – Choices

Choices
Season 3, Episode 19
Original airing: 5/4/1999

My Rating: 52

The Good: This episode had some redeeming moments, but mostly it just felt badly put together. However, I liked the Scoobies making college decisions, Willow being a bit of a badass, learning more about Cordelia, and Wesley’s very logical take on the whole situation.

First, I really like that the characters will be graduating high school and moving on to college. This still doesn’t always happen in TV shows, so it’s a very nice bit of realism. I also appreciated how they kept Willow close with all of her prestigious, around the world college choices. Her mature and well-thought out decision to stay in Sunnydale because she wants to keep helping to fight evil makes complete sense for both her character and the show.

This wasn’t her only shining moment in the episode either. I loved the bit of continuity that was the return of the floating pencil trick from Dopplegangland (S3E16). Using it to stake a vampire was almost cute.

It was also nice to see a bit of explanation for Cordelia’s excessive bad attitude lately. Apparently, her family has lost quite a bit of money lately. Her attitude seems to indicate she may not be able to go to any of the excellent colleges she was accepted to and she’s been forced into taking a menial job. The poor dear.

Finally, Wesley got to have his moment in the sun as well. During and after the Willow-hostage crisis, he shows his mettle as a thoughtful and logical Watcher. He points out the unpopular opinion and makes a rather convincing argument for destroying the Box to save the whole town. Of course, when it means the loss of Willow, he’s not going to convince the Scoobies. But it was a valiant effort and it was nice to see him really making a good point instead of being played for laughs. I haven’t been able to take him at all seriously since his introduction, but he’s slowly been showcasing his talents over the last few episodes.

The Bad: The main problem with this episode is that nothing felt organic. Willow verbally sparring with Faith while a knife was against her throat, Richard arrowing in on the problems in Buffy and Angel’s relationship, the Box of Gavroc, and Faith’s weird reactions to the Mayor all felt inappropriate.

Willow’s choice to standup to Faith on Faith’s turf was particularly stupid. She keeps telling Faith how worthless she is even after Faith punches her in the face and holds a knife to her neck. I couldn’t help but wonder if Willow was attempting to get herself killed. She knows Faith is unstable and that she was attempting to turn Angel evil to help torture and murder Buffy. So her choice to antagonize Faith feels completely stupid.

The Mayor taking time out of the exchange to harp on Buffy and Angel’s relationship also felt totally contrived. Why does he figure this out about them? His last experience was them tricking Faith and proving they’ll always be strong together. If he’s supposed to be messing with their minds, it should have been clearer. This felt like the writers were trying to address criticisms leveled at the show about the Buffy and Angel relationship. If this lecture had been coming from Giles or Willow, I think it would have felt way more natural. But having it come from Richard was completely disjointed, even with his story about his wife.

The Box of Gavroc also felt very much like a story device. Suddenly, Richard needs this box or he can’t complete his Ascension. So what does he do with it? He leaves it at City Hall on a conference room table under a magical spell. He doesn’t have an underground lair or safe house to stash it in? If I was going to Ascend and needed the Box to help me do it, I’d be sleeping with the darn thing.

Finally, I was annoyed with Faith’s weird reactions to Richard in this episode. One moment she’s teasing him, then she’s scared of him, then she’s planning to just rummage through his stuff without a by-your-leave. Are they surrogate father-daughter? Boss-employee?Or master-servant? I can’t tell and it makes it difficult to follow their relationship and believe in their interactions.

Favorite Moment: I appreciated that Oz finally got to emote just a bit here. Wesley makes the very reasonable one vs. the many speech about exchanging the Box for Willow. While everyone is trying to shout Wesley down, Oz just gets up and makes the point moot.

The Bottom Line: This was not a good episode. It had its moments, but everything felt very disjointed and forced.

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