So Buffy is getting rid of all of Willow's magic/drugs paraphernalia whilst, yet again, relating Willow's problems to her own. "Any reminder could make her give into temptation," she says as she tosses Spike's lighter into the bin. Buffy blames herself for Willow's demise, she was too wrapped up in her own problems, but nobody notices Buffy's affair with Spike, even when he's, um, pleasuring her in the kitchen or in his crypt. Xander reminds us why Buffy can't tell her friends about the dalliance, saying that only a "nutsack" or a "loser" would sleep with Spike. Even the social worker notices the relationship between Buffy and her vampire lover, but Spike is the epitome of the bad boyfriend, unemployed and leather clad, yet he attempts to stick up for Buffy with Doris even if he does get it wrong. His need for his blanket when leaving the house shows his connection to Buffy – neither can fit into this normal world of guardianship and social services and bureaucracy. She takes out her frustration about this on him, showing once again that she is merely using him, disrespecting his feelings, but when he's gone she turns her anger onto herself, her hair cutting is like self harm and, when she goes to the hairdresser, she pleads: "Make me different."
Meanwhile, we finally find out what the diamond as big as the Ritz was for: "We've got an invisibility ray and that makes us pretty much unstoppable". The trio's evil plan is to go into a women's spa, without paying! When their squabbles ruin the scheme, they worry about Buffy finding them, spying on them: "An invisible slayer means a whole world of trouble" – forgetting that she does not yet know that the boys are her "arch nemesises", and she is more interested in Bruce Almighty antics, including terrorising Doris the Social Worker. This time, invisibility isn't a metaphor for being ignored, it's analogous to being a teenager again. Buffy, as an adult, is expected to live in an adult's world, reporting to authority and providing parenting to her little sis. Instead, she's stealing traffic carts and partaking in afternoon delight with her secret sex-buddy. Dawn and Spike want Buffy to be a grown up, she wants to be a kid, hidden to the world of adults. Spike, as ever, sees the crux of her delight in her invisibility: "This vanishing act's right liberating for you. Go anywhere you want. Do anything you want. Or anyone". Buffy thinks being imperceptible is "perfect", she can have her cake and eat it: have sex with Spike with nobody knowing or judging her. Spike understands all of this: "The only reason you're here is because you're not here."
Xander is concerned about Willow, thinking that she was the one who caused Buffy's invisibility, but her magic inclinations are toward speed, rather than entertainment. She, who doesn't want to be the old Willow, is the go-get girl in this ep, using her ingenuity to find the troika lair, her science acumen to figure out the ray-gun, and good old fashioned detective skills in locating the spot where Buffy disappeared; all the while the Slayer is harassing strangers and tweaking Spike's ear. It's only when the gang discover that Buffy could turn into "pudding" – that she can't be a teenager forever, that she becomes worried about her state. We saw in S2 that when Buffy's unsolicited chosen calling was threatened by Kendra, it motivated Buffy into accepting her role, and here we see the life she doesn't want become precious to her when it's almost taken away from her. Fortunately, the boys have carried out the traditional, indeed, classic Willow-kidnapping (they are crime lords after all), for their next evil plan: re-visibling Buffy. We're starting to see the gap between Jonathan and Andrew, who, like Buffy, just want to have some fun, and Warren, who takes it so much more seriously and sees no harm in killing Buffy. "We're villains! When are you gonna get that through your thick skulls!?" At the arcade, Warren re-sets the ray gun to increase the invisibility/molecular deterioration, whilst Jonathan and Andrew are distracted by the computer games. After the very silly invisible fight, the boys can't even get out the door to escape. Yet Buffy, their arch-adversary, is as lost and confused as they are. She understands that she can't take a vacation from her life. Again, relating to Willow, she realises that she has to do things the hard way. They both sit, knowing that they're merely dealing with life, rather than enjoying it. With adorable hair.