The dark reality is back on Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 3 Episode 16! Evil couldn't stay away for too long.
Cordelia's wish from Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 3 Episode 9 created so many possibilities for the "What if?" scenario. All of the actors were on their A-games playing their darker counterparts. In particular, Vampire Willow was one of the breakout stars.
I was so happy that she made a reappearance! Let's find out why by rewatching "Doppelgangland."
Vampire Willow is the perfect villain you'd love-to-hate.
There's something about her that makes you smile. She's unabashedly flirty, she enjoys owning her bad side, and she's a great foil to her complete opposite, Willow. It's a shame that we only got the character for two episodes.
We could've explored how similar the characters were between their good and evil sides. Angel teased the similarities when they sent her back, but that joke was only the beginning.
Also, with a mischevious villain around, Vampire Willow could've caused plenty of chaos in Sunnydale. Her comedic timing would've added so much to the group's dynamics, like how upbeat it was having Spike and Drusilla around.
We're lucky to get her at all. "Doppelgangland" was the hour for the two sides of Willow to shine, and I was here for all of it.
Giles: It's extraordinary.
Willow: It's horrible. That's me as a vampire? I'm so evil, and skanky... and I think I'm kinda gay.
Buffy: Willow, just remember, a vampire's personality has nothing to do with the person it was.
Angel: Well, actually...
[Willow and Buffy look at him]
Angel: That's a good point.
Another fun love-to-hate villain was Anya.
Sure, she turned good in the end and became a loyal member to the Scoobies. However, for a while, she was a villain that rejected her humanity. Her first and final appearances are basically night-and-day versions of each other (one spiteful and the other heroic).
Previously watching her introduction back in 1998/1999, I never would've guessed the character would last as long.
Anya was so dead-set on turning evil again; she tried everything she could to get her powers and necklace back. Her scenes seemed like she was biding her time until D'Hoffryn brought her back into the fold.
Personally, I'm happy that she turned good. I love the money-obsessed, no filter Anya we grew to love. She's one of the best characters on Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
Speaking of D'Hoffryn, why was he so bitter about not turning her back?
After a thousand years of faithful and successful service, Anya deserved some forgiveness. Everyone has a bad day, and her loss happened because of the Slayer. That alone should've granted her some leeway in the demon community for a second chance.
The strange resistance comes across more like a convenient plot device now, especially after watching the entire series in hindsight. D'Hoffryn did care about Anya/Anyanka, and she was one of his favorites.
He would've forgiven her and returned her powers based on their character development. Their disagreement only came to fruition because there needed to be a reason to bring Vampire Willow back.
Enter the spell and Anya's desperation.
For a thousand years I wielded the power of the wish. I brought ruin upon the heads of unfaithful men, I offered destruction and chaos for the pleasure of the lower beings. I was feared and worshiped across the mortal globe and now I'm stuck at Sunnydale High! A mortal! A child! And I'm flunking math.Anya
Side-note: Willow's magic vastly improved since the last we saw it.
Aggressive pencils aside, she went from chanting spells to floating pencils and conjuring black magic in a short time. Willow had a natural talent for magic. It's no wonder she advanced so quick and Giles worried about her overuse.
If her hand hadn't touched the black powder, she would've absolutely retrieved the necklace. Her channeling was that good, even as a novice.
People absolutely took Willow for granted.
Willow was reliable, dependable, sweet, and a pretty loyal person (minus the whole cheating scandal, of course). No one had any reason to worry about her compared to more chaotic characters, like Xander or Buffy. The people of Sunnydale didn't give her the treatment that she deserved.
I felt her pain and frustration.
Being pushed around and walked on is no way to be treated. They viewed her niceness as weakness, which was their big mistake.
Principal Snyder and Percy thought they could intimidate the "nerd." The Scoobies, on the other hand, interacted with her at the wrong time. She probably wouldn't have been so angry if the Percy/Snyder instance didn't happen.
Still, the underappreciated tone still stands!
Xander: Willow, did you remember to tape "Biography" last Friday?
Buffy: See? I told you. Old Reliable.
Willow: Oh, thanks.
Willow: Old Reliable? Yeah, great, there's a sexy nickname.
Buffy: Well, I didn't mean it as...
Willow: No, it's fine. I'm Old Reliable.
Xander: She just means, you know, the geyser. You're like a geyser of fun that goes off at regular intervals.
Willow: That's Old Faithful.
Xander: Isn't that the dog that-that the guy had to shoot...
Willow: That's Old Yeller!
Buffy: Xander, I beg you not to help me.
One thing that bothered me about "Dopplegangland" was that Buffy and Xander immediately decided that Willow was a vampire. It's not so much about Vampire Willow showing her demonic face, but it's about the quick transformation from human to undead.
How long does it take for someone to transform into a vampire? Is it as short as an hour or does it require a half/full day?
Buffy and Xander both saw Willow earlier at school when she brushed them off, which means she would've had to have been sired that day.
During Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 3 Episode 12, the Watcher needed a few hours before he turned into a vampire. He didn't need to be buried for the transformation to take full effect. Ford, on the other hand, was buried on Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 2 Episode 7, so both options worked.
I'll blame their judgment on shock and sadness since they thought their best friend had died. Plus, the extra emotions added to all the funny moments, like the shocked expressions and hugs.
A little bit of comedy even during a sad moment in their lives.
Vampire Willow's plan to cause chaos and get the necklace back suited the character's personality. Destruction and teasing her prey were tactics right up her alley, especially taking over the Bronze. Though, her results could've been much simpler.
After Anya revealed the spell, they didn't need the people at the Bronze anymore. Holding everyone as hostages only drew more attention to them. All they needed was Willow.
If they had gone after Willow directly, they probably would've succeeded.
Still, I wouldn't trade the scenes of Willow going undercover as Vampire Willow. The difference between the pair was so obvious, particularly in her demeanor and appearance. How could they not tell she was human?!
The moment she got her hand tangled in the hand gave her away.
Another perfect scene was Cordelia's heart-to-heart with Vampire Willow.
You could tell that she was so excited to get everything off her chest. After all the deception and pain, this would be her way to find peace. Plus, she could talk and Willow would have to listen.
Cordelia looked so happy at the idea of the therapy session. Vampire Willow, on the other hand, wanted to be anywhere else but there.
If GIFs and social media were a thing back in 1999, Vampire Willow's expression would've blown up online. One look at her expression and you would agree with, "Same."
Willow: It's really nice that you guys missed me. Say, you all didn't happen to do a bunch of drugs, did yah?
Xander: Will, we saw you at The Bronze. A vampire.
Willow: I'm not a vampire.
Buffy: You are. I mean you were. Giles, planning on jumping in with an explanation any time soon?
Giles: Well, uh... something... something, um, very strange is happening.
Xander: Can you believe the Watcher's Council let this guy go?
For the overall Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 3 plot, "Doppelgangland" offered a few big plot points. These big pieces were peppered in between the Monster of the Week scenes.
Firstly, Faith got her new apartment. (Which looked gorgeous! #jealous)
The earliest developments of the Mayor's fatherly relationship with Faith were introduced thanks to the apartment. Even though she worked for him, he treated her like a daughter and took care of her. That tidbit would soon grow over time, and it would affect their decisions.
Secondly, Faith didn't have a problem with Mayor Wilkins killing off the Scoobies, let alone just Willow.
She looked worried at first, but she shook it off when he gave her a PlayStation. Faith stopped caring about the Scoobies' lives in favor of her own happiness. That's a huge development, especially since she's still undercover with the heroes.
What did you think of "Doppelgangland"? Were you happy to see Anya again? Would you have wanted Vampire Willow to stick around longer? Did you absolutely love Faith's new apartment?
Want to join us in rewatching Buffy the Vampire Slayer? We'll be posting new rewatch posts on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Come back here and share your thoughts in the comments.
Justin Carreiro was a staff writer for TV Fanatic. He retired in October 2020. Follow him on Twitter.