Episode Title: Triangle
Original Air Date: January 9 2001
“Anya, I have faith in you. There is no one you cannot piss off.” – Willow
Depending on whether you liked or hated Riley really controls what mood you’ll be entering into this episode, seeing how the last episode saw him leaving Sunnydale and ending his relationship with Buffy, something which is usually a warning sign that the next episode will be another rough ride of having to deal with a zoned out Buffy which we usually get with most season openers. Surprisingly this episode chooses to take a different track as we open to a convent were we are lead to belive that Buffy has run away to, only for her to show up as the stylish bad-ass and slaying a vampire before then asking questions about the life of being a nun to one of the frazzled nuns.
The fact that they choose to go a comedic route on this episode really is a refreshing change of pace and certainly welcome not to have more emotional baggage piled on the season which has already been heavy enough with Buffy’s mom being treated for her brain tumour. So instead of Buffy moping about instead we have her getting highly emotional when she thinks that any of the other couples in her life are going to break up. Thanks to Sarah Michelle Geller really committing to hamming up these moments what could have easily have come off irritating instead really makes for some humerous moments through especially during the climax.
Despite the episode being based around Buffy handing the breakdown of another major relationship in her life, the real focus is instead on the weird relationship triangle between Xander, Anya and Willow as Xander finds himself torn between his girlfriend and best friend a situation not helped by the fact that both sides are trying to trump each other. The situation is only heightened by Anya and Willow currently being forced to work alongside each other as Anya looks afters the Magic Box while Giles heads back to England seeking further advice on dealing with Glory from the Watchers Council. Willow meanwhile chooses this opportunity to basically start using what she wants from the store to try and create spells to help Buffy only instead thanks to her bickering with Anya ends up accidentally summoning a troll who heads off on a rampage through Sunnydale.
Olaf the troll is another of those great one shot characters even though we get to see a flashback to his former human life in season 7 before Anya turned him into a troll when she became a vengeance demon. Of course we don’t find this out until the end but in meantime we do get to enjoy him basically smashing everything he comes into contact with his hammer, while drinking kegs of beer and making demands for babies to eat. The latter of this activities bringing him into contact with Spike and Xander at the Bronze and while Spike could fight Olaf he instead opts to be “paralysed by not caring very much”.
The fact that we get Spike being sarcastic rather than just moping over Buffy is a welcome relief, especially as those scenes got grating quick. Yes we do get more of them here with Spike chatting up his Buffy mannequin but to have him back to being a self centred ass is really what we want from Spike.
Buffy’s fight with Olaf is a great powerhouse battle with a healthy side dose of property damage to both the Bronze and Magic Box. What is confusing though is how Xander is able to withstand being hit by Olaf’s hammer so many times especially when its shown destroying pretty much anything it comes in with ease. He even manages to withstand having his wrist snapped in one of the more suprisingly violent moments of the episode while Olaf is making him choose between Willow and Anya.
An episode which really takes a gamble and here it pays off to create a unique episode to say the least aswell as a refreshing chance of pace to the episode we were expecting after last week, while equally providing an ominous warning for Xander and Anya.
Next Episode: Checkpoint