Season 3 has been kind of a weird one to revisit especially as it played a lot differently than my nostalgic memories with this season being certainly one of the heavier “Monster of the Week” seasons while our big bad in Mayor Wilkins who basically spent most of the season hiding out at city hall. Occasionally he sent a henchmen to deal with Buffy or appeared to be playing the puppet master, but ultimately it was all a lot of distraction while we edged ever closer to the big finale.
This however is not to say it’s been a bad season as these one shot episodes have largely been pretty strong and giving the various plotlines such as the ever complex relationship between Angel and Buffy the room to breathe they needed. This was also the season were we also saw much more of a father daughter bond between Buffy and Giles, which had been building over the previous seasons and here really comes to ahead with Buffy turning her back on the Watchers council for their removal of Giles as her watcher. A move which equally highlighted her own personal strength as she continues to grow from being a student lumbered with the responsibilities of being a slayer into a true leader.
Unquestionably the highlight of the season though is the introduction of “Faith” our bad girl slayer and whose journey to the dark side and eventual alliance with the Mayor made for one of the best aspects of the season. Credit for Faith’s likeability really resting on Eliza Dushku’s performance as she not only owned the character, but ensured that she lived on a lot longer than the writers had planned, as they scrapped the original plans for her to hang herself midseason and in doing so ensuring the legacy of one of the Buffyverse’s most fascinating characters.
Season 3 also saw even more key characters in this universe being established with former vengeance demon Anya not only starting her journey to being a full time Scoobie member but also her own relationship with Xander. His season despite only appearing in a handful of episodes she quickly establishes herself as a fan favourite with her misguided world view from recently being made mortal. Giles meanwhile was seen as being slightly less stuffy by the arrival of his supposed replacement Wesley whose bumbling by the book style made him a fun character to bounce things off, though it would take him being transplanted to the “Angel” spin off for his character to really come into his own.
The decision to split Buffy and Angel up seemingly for good this season was always going to a bold decision for the showrunners and while required in order to setup the “Angel” spin off, its ultimately the right one especially when the series essentially leaves the show with a blank slate to build from in season 4, even though it does at the end of the season leave many of the characters scattered with only a select few we are left knowing where they are heading while Xander, Giles and Cordelia are left much more of a mystery, Giles especially seeing how despite being fired by the Watchers council was still the school librarian but seeing how Buffy blows up Sunnydale High in the final episode of the season its left unclear where he’s going to go next.
So what’s next for the show? Well Buffy, Willow and Oz are heading to college but seeing how they are still in Sunnydale nothing is going to be what it seems that’s for sure. Not only are we introduced to “The Initiative” but Spike is back and this time with a familiar face from Sunnydale High in tow. Season 4 also features one of the best episodes ever “Hush” and one hell of a big evil in the Frankenstein creation Adam. It’s got everything to make for another packed season.