Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Season 3 Episode 19


Aired Tuesday 8:00 PM May 04, 1999 on The WB
out of 10
User Rating
542 votes

By TV.com Users

Episode Summary

Buffy receives an acceptance to Northwestern University, but what should be a happy surprise turns sour when she realizes that she may not be able to go away to school and still fulfill her duties as the Slayer. Buffy manages to intercept the Box of Gavrok, a container of mystical energy that is vital to the Mayor’s Ascension. But when Willow is captured, the gang must decide whether they can give up their best chance at preventing the Ascension to save Willow’s life.moreless

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  • Choices

    I really, really enjoyed this episode. No, there weren't any powerful scenes. No, nothing big really happened. But you know what? There wasn't a moment of the entire thing that left me uninterested. The action was exciting, the drama was interesting, and the penultimate scene with Buffy and Willow warmed my heart. So even though I have no complaints with this one I can only rate it so high because ultimately it's just an arc episode which moves things along and gives characters more interesting things to do and say.

    Early on Buffy is talking with Angel about their future together. Both of them at this point, deep down, know this relationship is never going to work. They are both trying their best to hide from that reality though. Buffy is the first to question it when she asks him, while fighting in the cemetary together, "So this is our future? This is how we're going to spend our nights when I'm fifty and you're ... the same age you are now." It's the Mayor, however, who is the one to finally finish off their relationship.

    As fundamentally evil as the Mayor is, it doesn't mean everything he says is wrong. He actually says a lot of truthful things. His speech affects Angel a lot even though Angel hides it from Buffy at the end, and she completely ignores it. He says, "You're immortal, she's not. It's not. I married my Edna May in ought-three and I was with her right until the end. Not a pretty picture. Wrinkled and senile and cursing me for my youth. Wasn't our happiest time. And let's not forget the fact that any moment of true happiness will turn you evil. I mean, come on. What kind of a life can you offer her? I don't see a lot of Sunday picnics in the offing. I see skulking in the shadows, hiding from the sun. She's a blossoming young girl and you want to keep her from the life she should have until it has passed her by. My God! I think that's a little selfish. Is that what you came back from Hell for? Is that your greater purpose?" This is the best summary of the problems Buffy and Angel are faced with that I could ever think of.

    The middle of the episode has a ton going for it. We get the wonderfully fun break-in scene where Buffy is lifted down into the Mayor's conference room to snag the box. That doesn't work out so well so we get an awesome little fight scene. Then we find out Willow's been captured so discussions begin on trading the box for Willow. I love that the thing that convinces everyone to make the trade is Oz actually getting angry and pushing something over. All they needed to see was that amazing--coming from Oz--show of emotion. Wonderful characterization.

    After all that we get treated to Willow staking a vamp using the floating pencil spell she was using back in "Doppelgangland" (3x16). Then we even get to see her stand up to Faith with words like "I know that some people think you had a lot of bad breaks. Well, boo hoo! Poor you. You know, you had a lot more in your life than some people. I mean, you had friends in your life like Buffy. Now you have no one. You were a Slayer and now you're nothing. You're just a big selfish, worthless waste ... I'm not afraid of you." Everyone, a cheer for Willow.

    If all of that wasn't enough we also get a very suspenseful trade scene at the high school. The creatures in the box are very creepy and it is fun watching the good guys, the bad guys, and the guys in the middle (Snyder and the police) all working together to kill off the two that get out. This is also the scene where the Mayor imparts his unique wisdom on Angel and even manages to get in a few hilarious lines. This episode really does entertain!

    Some nice smaller touches include Xander failing to resist the opportunity to see Cordelia shopping and throwing verbal jabs at her, Cordelia beginning a new part of life now that she has no money, Buffy realizing after the previous night she's going to have to protect the hellmouth her whole life, and Willow deciding she's going to attend UC Sunnydale not because of Buffy but because she likes they way she felt when helping out in the fight against evil. Plus, she hopes to be a bad-ass wicca (S6, wink). Overall this is just a whole lot of entertainment. Once again, nothing huge or powerful happens here, it's just an arc episode that really delivers the stuff, and is wrapped up in a beautiful, balanced package.

  • Buffy does heist movie

    The Good;

    Buffy does a heist movie. Some clever foreshadowing of events to come and some good strategising on the part of the gang, taking the offensive for once. The Faith and Willow showdown and Oz shows his love in a suitably taciturn manner. Love the diagram Willow makes of Oz and Xander, distinguishable by stick-figure Oz having a guitar.

    The Bad;

    The creatures in the box look a bit ropey, Buffy takes 'inspiration' from Aliens not for the first time and not for the last.

    Best line;

    Willow; "Sounds like your mom's in a state of denial"

    Buffy; "More like a continent"

    Character death;

    Faith kills another human/demon? SDH loses another staff member, this time one of the security guards.


    No but Faith kills the courier with her bow from Bad Girls.

    Tied up;

    Buffy get's tangled in the wires, Willow gets captured but not tied up.

    Women good/men bad;

    Cordy seems unnecessarily snarky about Willows acceptence from the universties but we'll understand more about that later.


    Poor old security guard, what a way to go! Was I the only one who took a few seconds to comprehend what Faith meant by her 'cut through bone ' remark?

    Calling Captain Subtext;

    The Faith/Willow showdown has a lot of the elements of two jealous lovers fighting over their shared object of desire. The Buffy and Willow rolling around on the ground at the end telling one another they love them is a slashficcer's dream.

    Guantanamo Bay;

    Buffy beats up and interrogates the Mayor's limo driver before 'introducing him to Mr Pointy'. A tough call with the trade for Willow, if they had not gone through with it, Larry, Snyder, the Professor Faith kills, Harmony etc might never have died.

    Where's Dawn?

    How does she feel about Buffy going away to university? Happy to have more time to herself in the bathroom or will she miss not having her big sis around the place?

    What the fanficcers though?

    Instead of fighting Buffy seduces The Mayor into giving up evil; 'Buffy the Mayor's Plaything'

    Questions and observations;

    Good ep, carrying the central storyline forwards whilst also accepting that life goes on outside the Hellmouth. The first time that most of the Scooby gang actually meet the Mayor. Cordy working in the shop is a shocker and no mistake. Joyce calls Buffy's Aunt Arlene, is she Joyce's sister or Hanks? Is she the mother of cousin Celia from 'Killed by Death'? The Mayor's comments on Buffy and Angel are true and Joyce will say pretty much the same in the next episode. First appearance of Faith's knife which looks like something the Klingons would use on Star Trek.

    Marks out of 10; 6/10

  • Choices

    Choices was a great episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. This episode continues with the Mayors plans for Ascension being the main point, while Buffy scores a temporary win against him. This win may cost Buffy dearly however as Faith catches Willow and the Mayor holds her in City Hall. There was a lot of character and story development in this episode. Wesley the new watcher made a call, and Buffy went against it to save Willow. He remains upset, and Buffy feels trapped in Sunnydale. The story was compelling, the actors were full of charisma, the action was exciting and the drama was engaging.moreless
  • Season 3, Episode 19.

    Buffy gets accepted into Northwestern University and does not know if she can attend because of her duties as the Slayer. Buffy intercepts the Box of Gavrok, but when Willow is captured by Faith, she must arrange a trade with the mayor. I liked the storyline for this episode. The concept was good, and I liked Cordelia in this episode, too. I think she's poor and needs the job. Willow decides to go to UC-Sunnydale with Buffy! Woohoo! I loved that scene. Plus, I liked when Willow was captured and all of Faith's scenes in this episode. I liked Willow and Faith fighting and Willow making the pencil go through the vampire's heart. Plus, Buffy looked really good in all the scenes, especially the last. Cool episode.moreless
  • Willow and Faith face off.

    This is a really good episode for Willow, it shows her growing as a person and kind of separating from her doormat type personality. She's never really like Faith, but now she has good reasons and when she confronts her and tells her to get over it, she's being a little harsh which is a new thing for Willow. Faith and the Mayor are such a great pair and I love to see them together, his gift of the knife which turns out to be a large part of his downfall are presented so well in this episode. Although my absolute favorite part of this episode, which granted is about 15 seconds, is when everyone is arguing about trading the box for Willow and Oz is stoic and silent as usual stands up and knocks over the bowl thing for the spell and then just nods at Buffy, still silent, but expressing how much he loves Willow at the same time. Then the confrontation between team Mayor and team Buffy at the end is great. When Angel is insulting the Mayor and Oz issues the one word warning and shows off his fear it is so sweet (my obsession with Oz cannot be stopped). Then the mayor comments on the relationship between Angel and Buffy which is something that they all know, but are too afraid to talk about. Then at the end Willow decides she wants to devote her life to saving the world. Her decision to stay and fight evil shows how it's not just Buffy who feels responsible for the world.moreless
Keith Brunsmann

Keith Brunsmann

Vampire Lackey

Guest Star

Jimmie F. Skaggs

Jimmie F. Skaggs


Guest Star

Jason Reed

Jason Reed

Vampire Guard

Guest Star

Kristine Sutherland

Kristine Sutherland

Joyce Summers

Recurring Role

Harry Groener

Harry Groener

Mayor Richard Wilkins III

Recurring Role

Alexis Denisof

Alexis Denisof

Wesley Wyndam-Pryce

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (12)

    • We learn that Buffy has an Aunt Arlene, presumably Joyce's sister, who lives in Illinois.

    • The ritual they planned to use to destroy the box of Gavrok was called Breath of the Entropics.

    • We learn that the Mayor used to have a wife named Edna Mae (whom he married in 1903 and remained with until her death) and an Irish Setter named Rusty.

    • When the lights go out in the prisoner exchange scene, Angel says he can see fine, implying that vampires have at least some degree of night vision.

    • In this episode the Mayor and Buffy finally meet face-to-face, though they were in the same room during a City Hall press conference in the "Gingerbread" (3x11), and they almost met in the sewers beneath Sunnydale in "Band Candy" (3x06).

    • Willow makes an impressive first solo vampire kill in this episode. Not only does she use her magic offensively for the first time, but she does the vamp in with a pencil.

    • Goof: When the Mayor and Faith walk out of his office we see that he shuts the door. When Willow goes searching, however, the door is open.

    • Goof: At the beginning of the scene of the exchange the wall clock can be seen. The time is 12:42. The next time the clock is seen (when the Gavrok Spider attacks the police officer) the time is still 12:42 although several minutes have passed.

    • Goof: After the Gavrok Spider latches onto the police officer's face and kills him, we can easily see the "dead" officer blink his eyes.

    • Goof: When Willow tells Buffy that she will be staying in Sunnydale for school, Buffy tackles her and it goes to a long shot. When she begins talking her mouth doesn't move until it switches back to a close-up.

    • Goof: When the Gavrok creature gets on Buffy's back, Angel moves to help Buffy and you can see Xander laughing at Buffy in the back ground.

    • Goof: After Buffy squashes the Gavrok Spider, when Angel helps her up in the long shot, the creature is not visible on the floor. Then in the very next shot, Angel sweeps the dead creature away with his foot.

  • QUOTES (14)

    • Wesley: The Mayor will most assuredly have supernatural safeguards protecting the box. Oh, we all forgot about that, did we?
      Buffy: Looks like a job for Wiccan girl. What do you say, Will? Big time danger.
      Willow: Hey, I eat danger for breakfast.
      Xander: But, oddly enough, she panics in the face of breakfast foods.

    • Buffy: I'm a Sunnydale girl, no other choice.
      Willow: Must be tough. I mean, here I am, I can do anything I want. I can go to any college in the country, four or five in Europe if I want.
      Buffy: Please tell me you're going somewhere with this?
      Willow: No. (hands Buffy a letter) I'm not going anywhere.
      Buffy: U.C. Sunnydale?
      Willow: I will be matriculating with Class of 2003.
      Buffy: Are you serious?
      Willow: Say, isn't that where you're going?
      Buffy: I can't believe it! Are you serious? Ah, wait, what am I saying? You can't.
      Willow: What do you mean, I can't?
      Buffy: I won't let you.
      Willow: Of the two people here, which is the boss of me?
      Buffy: There are better schools.
      Willow: Sunnydale's not bad and I can design my own curriculum.
      Buffy: Okay, well, there are safer schools. There are safer prisons. I can't let you stay because of me.
      Willow: Actually, this isn't about you. Although I'm fond, don't get me wrong, of you. The other night, you know, being captured and all, facing off with Faith, things just kind of got clear. I mean, you've been fighting evil here for three years, and I've helped some, and now we're supposed to decide what we want to do with our lives, and I just realized that that's what I want to do. Fight evil. Help people. I mean, I think it's worth doing and I don't think you do it because you have to. It's a good fight, Buffy, and I want in.
      Buffy: I kind of love you.
      Willow: And, besides, I have a shot at being a bad ass Wiccan, and what better place to learn?

    • Buffy: Do you get the feeling that we're kind of in a rut?
      Angel: Rut?
      Buffy: You never take me any place new.
      Angel: What about that fire demon nest in the cave by the beach? Thought that was a nice change of pace.
      Buffy: So this is our future? I mean, this is how we're gonna spend our nights when I'm 50 and you're... the same age you are now?
      Angel: Let's just get you to 50.
      Buffy: Liking that plan.

    • The Mayor: (about to lift the lid on the Box of Gavrok) There are about 50 billion of these things. Raise your hand if you are invulnerable.

    • The Mayor: Clandestine meetings prisoner exchanges in the dark of night? I feel like we should all be wearing trench coats!

    • Willow: Faith, wait. I want to talk to you.
      Faith: Oh yeah? Give me the speech again, please. Faith, we're still your friends. We can help you. It's not too late.
      Willow: It's way too late. You know, it didn't have to be this way. But you made your choice. I know you had a tough life. I know that some people think you had a lot of bad breaks. Well, boo hoo! Poor you. You know, you had a lot more in your life than some people. I mean, you had friends in your life like Buffy. Now you have no one. You were a Slayer and now you're nothing. You're just a big selfish, worthless waste.
      Faith: (Faith hits Willow) You hurt me, I hurt you. I'm just a little more efficient.
      Willow: Oh, and here I just thought you didn't have a comeback.

    • Xander: I'm aware it scores kinda high on the hokey-meter, but I think it'll be good for me, help me to find myself.
      Cordelia: And help us to lose you. Everyone's a winner.
      Xander: Well, look who just popped open a fresh can of venom.

    • Buffy: But you - I can't believe you got into Oxford!
      Willow: It's pretty exciting.
      Oz: There's some deep academia there.
      Buffy: That's where they make Gileses!
      Willow: I know. I could learn, and have scones.

    • Buffy: Well, there's something you don't see every day. Unless, of course, you're me.

    • Mayor: God, you kids, y'know? You don't like to think about the future. You don't like to make plans. Unless you want Faith to gut your friend like a sea bass, show a little respect for your elders.
      Angel: You're not my elder. I've got a lot of years on you.
      Mayor: Yeah, and that's just one of the things you're going to have to deal with. You're immortal, she's not. It's not easy. I married my Edna May in ought-three and I was with her right until the end. Not a pretty picture. Wrinkled and senile and cursing me for my youth. Wasn't our happiest time. And let's not forget the fact that any moment of true happiness will turn you evil. I mean, come on. What kind of a life can you offer her? I don't see a lot of Sunday picnics in the offing. I see skulking in the shadows, hiding from the sun. She's a blossoming young girl and you want to keep her from the life she should have until it has passed her by. My God! I think that's a little selfish. Is that what you came back from Hell for? Is that your greater purpose?

    • Faith: I made him an offer he couldn't survive.

    • Snyder: You... all of you... why couldn't you be dealing drugs like normal people...?

    • Snyder: Alright, what's in the bag?
      Student: My lunch
      Snyder: What is that, the new drug lingo?
      Student: No, it's my lunch.

    • Vampire: You killed him!
      Faith: What are you, the narrator?

  • NOTES (2)

    • The knife given to Faith is part of a collection designed by world famous knifesmith Gil Hibben. It is called "The Jackal" and was released in 1999.

    • In this episode we learn that there is a University of California campus within the Sunnydale city limits.


    • Buffy: The Box of Gavrok. It houses some great demonic energy or something which His Honor needs to chow down on come A-Day.
      Gavrok is also the name of a character who appears in the Doctor Who episode "Delta and the Bannerman" from 1987.

    • Faith: I made him an offer he didn't survive.
      This is a play on the famous line "I made him an offer he couldn't refuse", spoken by Don Vito Corleone in The Godfather.

    • Faith: But you, you just can't stop Nancy Drew-ing, can you?

      Nancy Drew is a fictional teen detective who has her own series of mystery novels for younger readers.

    • Buffy: I'm tired of waiting for Mayor McSleaze to make his move while we sit on our hands counting down to Ascension Day.
      This is a reference to the McDonald's character Mayor McCheese.

    • Buffy: Faith's turn to the dark side of the Force pretty much put the proverbial kibosh on any away plans for me.
      Buffy talks about Faith going to work for the evil Mayor in the language of the Star Wars movies. In the movies the Force is a powerful life energy that can be used for good or evil. The evil doers are said to use the dark side of the Force. To put the kibosh on something is to bring it to an end. The word sounds Yiddish but its origin is actually unknown. Despite Buffy's statement, there is no proverb about a "kibosh".

    • Mayor: What would Tollhouse cookies be without the chocolate chips? A pretty darn big disappointment, I can tell you.
      "Tollhouse cookies" is the original name for chocolate chip cookies.