Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Season 3 Episode 19


Aired Tuesday 8:00 PM May 04, 1999 on The WB

Episode Fan Reviews (14)

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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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Decisions, Decisions

    Choices-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.

    An episode that could have been average but thanks to such truly excellent scenes, it's very good. I like how the continuing storyline of Buffy as well as the rest of the gang's future is brought back up. Buffy gets excepted to a great college with her suprising good SAT scores but can't have a future with her slayer duties in the way. Willow can go to any college in the world while Xander is pretty much done after high school. But the most sad part is that Cordelia seems to be broke and possibly can't go to her colleges. The main plot with the mysterious box is good and the sequence of when Buffy and Angel go all "Mission Impossible" then leading to a cool fight scene against the Mayor's guards was great. We also get a chance to see Willow show she has matured and some serious guts as when being held captive by the Mayor, she gets into an intense confrontation with Faith. I love how Willow has grown so confident standing up to Faith like that and Faith being so defensive in the end. The scene where the Buffy and the gang make a trade with the Mayor and his camp is thrilling scene. First we have some very creepy crawlers causing some brief suspense with them flying into people's face, ehw! The scene in which the Mayor's face heals from being ripped open is nasty looking. But most importantly, the Mayor of all poeple giving quality advice to Buffy and Angel. His words are all true even though Buffy and Angel at the end try to ignore their impossible future. All and All, a surprising good episode becuase of some great developments.
  • Snyder thinks everyone has drugs, the Mayor and the Scooby gang make a deal, and Buffy and college

    I gotta say this Snyder was so incredible in this one I loved him. The best thing was at the end when they were making the exchange with the Mayor and Snyder came in and then he said "Why couldn't you be dealing drugs like normal people."

    I loved that Buffy wanted to get out of Sunnydale and go away to college. In "Lover's Walk" she didn't want to leave for college but now she wants to get away from the Hellmouth. It shows that she wants it because she can't have and I loved that they showed this.

    I loved that this was mostly about the gangs’ plans for life after high school. I loved how Xander was trying to rub it in Cordelia's face that Willow could go anywhere; it really showed that they still felt something. Their arguments had that fire to them and it showed that they were still attracted to one another on some level. I hated how Cordelia got in on Buffy not having a future because you could tell that it really hurt Buffy to have that rubbed in her face.

    I loved how the gang planned to break into the Mayor's office to steal his box. I enjoyed watching Buffy follow Faith around to get that much information too. I loved how Wesley was trying to be in charge of the situation when he really had no control.

    The breaking into the Mayor's office and all was lame though. Willow getting captured was great I loved how she got some pages from the Mayor's books and how she insulted Faith.

    I liked how the group reacted to Willow being trapped. Oz was incredible in that scene. I loved how they were just out of control yelling at each other.

    I loved Willow and Buffy talking at the end. It was great to see that Willow was gonna stay in good old Sunnydale because she wanted to help people with Buffy. I loved Buffy's reaction to that it was cute to see them together like that. The Mayor had some good points when he was talking to Buffy and Angel about there relationship and it was obvious that Buffy and Angel knew he was right. Angel accepted what the Mayor said though while Buffy resided in denial.

    This was such an amazing episode from start to finish.
  • Buffy has alot of hard choices ahead

    Favorite Quotes:
    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."

    Poor Buffy. She finds out she was accepted at Northwestern, but in the same episode she realizes she can't leave Sunnydale or her duties behind. This was a standout episode.
    Willow stands up to Faith, which was just great to watch. She also decides she wants to go to U.C. Sunnydale along with Buffy, but not *because* of Buffy. Our Scoobies are growing up. We also see the first signs that things are not going to be "ok" for Angel and Buffy. Neither wants to admit it, but soon they will see how impossible their love is. (so sad!)
  • The gang look to their future

    Buffy decides that she can't leave Sunnydale to go to university because of the whole vampires, hellmouth, evil issue, so she decides to go to UC Sunnydale. Willow joins her in this decision but Xander wants the open road and to do a spot of travelling.

    The mayor nearly loses part of his ascension plans but luckily for him he has Willow as a bargaining tool. I can't believe that when Willow managed to escape her cell that she didn't just run and take a few of the books with her. Staying behind to read was a big mistake.

    Willow shares a few home truths with Faith and they hit her full on bringing out the defensive and aggresive Slayer side in her.
  • The future of the gang…

    So this was a good episode. With the group getting ready to graduate high school I know that people must have been wondering if this was the end of the show as we know it. Who was leaving and who was staying. Turns out that with Faith gone bad Buffy can’t see how she can go to Northwestern and starts looking at UC Sunnydale (how convenient that this once small town with just the bronze has a UC branch). Xander knows college isn’t in his future and wants to see the open road before coming back to Sunnydale and getting a job. Willow got accepted into all top notch schools and is having a hard time deciding. Cordy also starts talking about school but won’t tell anyone where she is going but she didn’t get accepted into some good schools. Turns out that Willow as decided to stay in Sunnydale with Buffy fighting evil.

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

    We really got to watch Willow do some serious good work in this episode. Willow was always one for helping any way she could and doing good and quality work. But she really went above and beyond in this episode. Standing up to Faith, sluthing around the mayors office, and even managaing to snag some important pages. Excellent work and made for a quality episode.
  • Buffy and Willow try to retrieve a McGuffin from the Mayor, but Willow gets taken hostage.

    A filler episode that doesn't have a lot to offer after one viewing. Faith is fun as usual in her "I'm a psycho-killer and its really a blast" way.

    The whole box of Gavrok thing is really just a McGuffin though that only exists to have a reason not to immediately kill Willow.

    The real value is the pages of the Book of Ascension that Will manages to smuggle out. Way to go! She also gets to use her magic pencil-as-stake trick on a vamp which was a little amusing.

    The only scene that stands out is Willow confronting Faith with how she gave up true friendship with Buffy and Scoobies. Eliza again shows us the lost and vulnerable side of Faith in nothing but a facial gesture. For just a few seconds there, you wonder if Willow has actually reached her.

    And of course, we get Faith's knife into Buffy's hands that will play such an integral role in both their upcoming fight and in our Slayer's confrontation with the Mayor-demon.
  • 'I made him an offer he didn't survive.'

    Once again a Faith episode, but this one didn’t seem as necessary as the ones that have passed. But that doesn’t matter, it was still good.

    Faith gets a big damn knife from The Mayor this time, and soon she gets attached to it. Maybe too much. So there is a man who’s going to give The Mayor a box but Faith gives him an offer he couldn’t survive and cuts him open for the key of the box.

    Meanwhile on school everyone is talking about the collages they are going to. Willow got into all of them while Xander didn’t and is going to work on the highway,. Xander thinks the same of Cordelia but she did infact get into a lot of schools. But we learn that the problem is that she’s going to a store and Xander thinks she’s buying clothes but infact she’s working there.

    Buffy also wants to leave school, she got into a lot of schools and wants to go to them but Wesley forbids it. Specially now with Faith and The Mayor and she realised that even if she stops them, others will come. So she cannot leave Sunnydale.

    But meanwhile Buffy decides to go to The Mayor and finish it instead of waiting but Wesley doesn’t want it. But the gang just forbids it and Buffy and Angel leave with Willow to use magic. They eventually steal the box but there is one problem, Faith caught Willow from behind and now she’s held as hostage.

    The reason why I hated Wesley once again is that he kept changing his mind, first he doesn’t want to take the first step and then he doesn’t want to trade the box back for Willow because he realised he wasn’t right. So anyway, nobody cares or listens to him and they just are planned to trade the box for Willow.

    What I loved the most about this episode was the Faith/Willow fight. Willow hurt Faith with words telling her she was a worthless space and Faith hurt her with her fists and then wanted to hurt her with her knife but The Mayor came in between them. He’s going to trade Willow.

    So in school they do the trade, all goes way to easily until Snyder walks in with some cops thinking that they are trading drugs. One of the cops opens the box and a big spider comes out which kills one of them. Another one comes out and attacks The Mayor but doesn’t hurt him. Buffy jumps on one and Faith throws her knife on the other saving Wesley. Than The Mayor and Faith leave with the box and Faith has to leave her knife behind.

    So ‘Choices’ was a nice episode, didn’t feel completely necessary though. Neither was the Bangel bashing of The Mayor telling Angel if was selfish of him to stay with Buffy. I did however liked that Buffy and Willow were going to go to the same school, Buffy because she can’t leave Sunnydale and Willow because she likes saving people.

  • \"Pro-active with pep\" - Buffy

    The episode may be called Choices but it’s all about endings. Joss, in brilliantly creating the teen world with vamps and demons as metaphors for teen angst, could have completed it when Buffy finished high school and it would have been a perfect three year cult classic. But fortunately he didn’t and the series became a television classic . His master stroke was to take Buffy out of high school and successfully move her, and the story, into university, the job market, adulthood and pseudo-parenthood. Most high school shows fail when the senior year ends, this one grew in strength.

    Anyway, the point of this episode is to signal the impending end of school and the beginning of the gang’s new lives. Willow has to decide whether to go to the best US Universities or Oxford - where they make Gileses and she can partake of learning and scones, whilst Xander has chosen to make the “open road” his school (he is reading Kerouac). Willow is already practising for university by wearing a vile long red velvet dress; talking of clothes, Cordy claims she has plenty of options for her future, but we see she that she is a minimum wage minion in a dress shop – have her choices all fallen through? Joyce believes that Buffy has as many opportunities as acceptance letters, but the Slayer is in a conundrum as to whether she should leave Sunnydale, especially with her on/off/on relationship with a centuries’ old vampire to consider. She thinks that she can fight vamps in the holidays, but we know that she is kidding herself – one can’t start a new life and then go back to an old one part-time. Her desire to leave is the MacGuffin which makes her want to take the fight to the Mayor – capture Faith, stop the ascension and still have time to graduate.

    Meanwhile, the Slayer#2 and Richard Wilkins#3 continue their twisted father/daughter relationship with cookies and weapons. Faith’s psychotic tendencies show themselves as she caresses and sniffs her new knife. Well, Faith if you see a knife towards the end of a series, it’s gonna be used in the last three episodes. Anyway, the Mayor has imported some deadly spiders from Central America (let’s hope he paid import tax) and Buffy and Angel have to appropriate them in a Mission Impossible kind of way. Buffy gets stuck in the middle of stealing, a set up to let her (much taller) stunt double do some fighting. They get the arachnid box, but it’s been a while since there’s been a Willow kidnapping, so here we have a good one, and although it was 1-0 to Team Buffster, play is now firmly in the Mayor’s half. From the first ever episode, we’ve seen that Buffy is not motivated by her sacred duty but by helping people, especially her friends. Wesley shows his idiocy by trying to bribe Buffy – if they don’t save Will, they can keep the box, stop the ascension and Buffy can leave Sunnydale. But in this case, the needs of the few outweigh the needs of the many. It’s a choice Buffy easily makes – stopping the ascension was never going to be this simple. But Willow is scoring a goal for Team Slayer by making use of her pencil floating skills, dusting a vamp and finding/reading/ripping out pages from the Books of Ascension – maybe she should have worn something with bigger pockets for her mule activities. As well as tearing from the book, Willow finally gets to tear a strip or two off of Faith as well, pointing out that she too had choices and going to the dark side was not inevitable.

    The Mayor also gets to say his piece during “the clandestine operation by dark of night” (no trenchcoats). He is a people person and instead of violence, he knows immediately how to get under the skin of Buffy and Angel:
    “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?”

    He uses the example of his Edna Mae whom he married in ‘03 (1803? 1903?), who died “cursing” him for his youth as an example of a similar relationship; I wonder if EM might have noticed his immortality. Still, Sunnydalers never have a problem with denial. I’m sure Willow said all this stuff to Buffy in the past, but this speech comes at a time when Buffy and Angel are examining their relationship and of course it opens the door for Angel the series – the vamp needs to break up with Buffy in order to leave the ‘Dale. Their moonlit picnic is in defiance of the “big stupid evil guy”, but the look on both of their faces shows that they know he is right.

    The Mayor’s speech-cum-exchange of prisoners is interrupted by Snyder on a random drugs bust who, once he knows the Mayor is involved, lets things pass but not before we’ve seen: When Spiders Attack! Faith kills one of them with her big shiny knife and as she and her saccharine-daddy leave, is her nicely ambiguous look of regret at leaving the knife? Or the gang? Or leaving the gang, and Buffy, still alive?

    The trade ‘n’ fight leaves Buffy clear about her future – she can’t leave the Hellmouth: “There’s always gonna be something”. But there is payback – Willow too has decided to go to UC Sunnydale because she too has made a choice. She wants to fight the good fight, help people, become “a badass Wicca” and matriculate with the class of 2003 – well if she doesn’t herself turn to the dark side and the town doesn’t implode, that is. This, to Buffy, is worth the surrender of the box of Gavrok, and she jumps Willow in a cute slashfic moment. And off they go for mucus. I mean, mochas.

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