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Recap / Buffy the Vampire Slayer S3E19 "Choices"

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"Actually this isn't about you, although I'm fond don't get me wrong of you. The other night, you know being captured and all, facing off with Faith, things just kind of got clear. I mean you've been fighting evil here for three.. years, and I've helped some, and now we're supposed to decide what we want to do with our lives and I just realized that's what I wanna do, fight evil, help people. I think it's worth doing and I don't think you do it 'cause you have to. It's a good fight, Buffy, and I want in!"
Willow Rosenberg

Directed by James A Contner

Written by David Fury, Jane Espenson, & Douglas Petrie

The episode starts out with the Mayor giving Faith a gift—as an early reward for going to the airport and picking up a package for him. The present: a big, expensive, mean-looking knife. Faith looks pleased with her new toy.

SHS. Buffy resignedly says it looks like she's attending UC Sunnydale, but she's excited for Willow, who got into Oxford (as well as Yale, MIT, Harvard...). Xander, who is reading On the Road, is resigned to joining the ranks of the unemployed. Cordelia wanders by to throw some insults their way, while neglecting to mention where she's going to school. Plot point.

Buffy, who saw Faith take a box into City Hall, attacks her henchvamp and demands to know what's in it.

Buffy tells the gang about the package—an item integral to the Mayor's upcoming Ascension—and they develop a plan to get it. Wesley doesn't like how fast things are moving, and points out that the Mayor will have supernatural powers protecting the box. Looks like a job for Wiccan girl. Later that night, Oz and Xander remain behind at the library, following Willow's directions for preparing the spell which will destroy the box. On the roof of City Hall, Willow pours a powdery substance through the skylight onto the box, breaking the supernatural barrier around it. Following a bit of a snafu with Buffy's winch harness, Buffy claims the box and escapes on foot while the confused guards chase after Giles' speeding van.


A bit later, the Mayor is scolding the guards. Faith puts a smile on his face when she enters holding Willow at knifepoint. What would he do without her?

Back at the ranch, the gang debates how to get Willow back. Buffy proposes they simply trade for the box, but Wesley insists the box has to be destroyed. The argument escalates, but Oz is having none of it. He smashes the implements for the box-destroying ritual, leaving them with but one choice.

Willow is trying to escape the room she's locked in when one of the vampire guards comes in, deciding he wants a taste of her. But she uses her telekinesis abilities to kill him with a nearby pencil, and runs out of the room. Willow ends up in the Mayor's office, where she opens up his secret closet and finds the Books of Ascension. Faith catches Willow reading them and threatens to kill her, but rather than be intimidated Willow tells her off, calling her a selfish, worthless, waste. The Mayor interrupts their fight to tell them about a "heckuva" phone call he just finished.


The gang is waiting in the cafeteria where they have arranged for there to be only one way out (or in). The Mayor, Faith, and Willow arrive, along with a couple of henchmen. The Mayor takes the opportunity to deliver a pointed lecture on immortality and the challenges it poses to relationships. Buffy and Angel barely manage to keep their cool. They make the trade, and Principal Snyder comes in with some cops, thinking he's caught them in a drug deal. Oy. Before the Mayor can explain, one of the bumbling cops opens the box, letting out some big bug thing (sort of a cross between a beetle, spider, and crab), which attacks and kills him, then scurries away. Giles tells them not to open the door; they can't let the bug out. Both Slayers cooperate in squishing the critters. Oz asks if that's all of them, and the Mayor says no, there's about fifty billion in the box, and challenges them to try and take it off him now they've got Willow back. As none of them have the Mayor's immortality, the Scoobies don't dare. The Mayor leaves, ordering Faith to come with him. She hesitates as her knife is still embedded in a bug (on a wall behind the Scoobies), but leaves. Buffy pockets the blade for herself. Plot point.

Later, Willow is telling Buffy about her "adventures," but Giles wants to know what she remembers from the Books of Ascension, and she surprises him with a few pages that she stole. Wesley is upset because they're right back where they started.

The next day Buffy tells Willow that she realizes she can't leave Sunnydale. That even if she defeats the mayor, there will be other evils to fight. Willow reveals that she's decided to go to UC Sunnydale, the same school as Buffy. Facing off with Faith made something clear to her — she realized that fighting evil was a good thing. She doesn't believe Buffy does it just because she must, but because it is the right thing to do. And that's what Willow wants to do now. Fight evil, help people, and become a badass Wicca — where better than in Sunnydale? The two go off for mochas.

Cordelia is in the store again, looking at a dress, when another woman comes in and tells her to stop goofing off. That's right. Cordelia is a working stiff now.

That night, Buffy tells Angel about her and Willow going to the same school; she's hoping to live on campus. She tries to reassure him that the Mayor didn't know what he was talking about (he's just a "stupid evil guy") and that they'll be okay. They cuddle up, both looking pensive.


  • Always Save the Girl: Wes argues against swapping the box for Willow, as destroying the box is a sure way to stop the Mayor's ascension and save thousands of lives.
  • An Arm and a Leg: Once the courier is dead, Faith barks at a henchvamp to "Get the keys to the cuffs!" The vamp can't find them. Faith draws her new toy. The henchvamp smugly tells her that the knife won't cut through steel. Faith, with a smile: "No, but it'll cut through bone." The vamp's face falls. She's so evil that she's squicking out demons.
  • Badass Boast:
    Buffy: Looks like a job for Wiccan girl. What do you say, Will? Big time danger.
    Willow: Hey, I eat danger for breakfast.
    Xander: But, oddly enough, she panics in the face of breakfast foods.
  • Batter Up!: Giles and Xander arm themselves with baseball bats in preparation for the trade. Xander's has a wicked hook attached for good measure.
  • Bigger on the Inside: Necessary for the Box of Gavrok to contain fifty billion demon spiders.
  • Bond One-Liner: On the tarmac, a courier a mysterious box handcuffed to his wrist steps off a plane. A limo rolls up, and the courier is unimpressed with the Mayor for sending a flunky. "I don't like surprises." On cue, an arrow pokes out of his chest.
    Faith: Surprise.
  • Buffy Speak:
    • Buffy congratulates Willow on getting into Oxford. "That's where they make Gileses!"
    • Buffy tells Wesley she wants to leave Sunnydale after she graduates. "You can't just define me by my Slayerness. That's....somethingism."
    • Oz shows Xander instructions that Willow wrote out for them, noting the illustrations. Xander wonders which stick figure is which ("They both look kind of stick figure-y to me."), but Oz points out that he's the one with the guitar.
    • After realizing the idea of leaving to study at university is a fantasy, Buffy gripes that she's stuck as Sunnydale Girl.
  • Call-Back:
    • Mayor Wilkins, face-to-face with the Slayer at, compliments Buffy's beauty (Faith scowls; looks like she didn't appreciate that.) He goes on that Angel must have strange taste in women not to have chosen Faith.
    Angel: Well, what can I say? I like 'em sane.
    • Faith eagerly accepts a cookie from the Mayor, despite refusing all his offers of refreshments in "Enemies" as she wasn't used to his whole Affably Evil Parental Substitute thing.
      • This could also be another reflection of Buffy and Giles' similar father/daughter dynamic:
    Buffy: Whenever Giles sends me on a mission, he always says 'please'. And afterwards I get a cookie!
  • The Caper: The first half of the episode, in which they plan to steal the Box of Gavrok.
  • Captain Obvious: Faith's henchvamp is stunned by the courier's death. This wasn't on the to-do list.
    Henchvamp: You killed him.
    Faith: What're you, the narrator?
  • Chekhov's Gag: In "Gingerbread", Willow is boasting of her witchcraft, then admits she can only float pencils. Later she and Buffy are about to be burnt at the stake so Willow tries to frighten the mob by threatening them with her Black Magic, causing Buffy to mutter, "What are you gonna do, float a pencil at them?" Here she does just that.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • Snyder on the prowl for drugs in the school.
    • Faith's knife gets stuck in the wall so she has to leave it behind. Buffy will put it to good use.
  • Chekhov's Skill: Willow warns her vampire jailer not to eat the hostage, but he grabs her and says he'll just have a little taste. He leans in, and we see that Willow has floated a pencil in the air like she was practising in "Doppelgangland". She sends it into his back, dusting him.
  • Clock King: Wes orders the Scoobies to "synchronise your watches" only to be exasperated when Buffy and Willow silently hold up their bare wrists (presumably that particular accessory isn't fashionable this week). Creature-of-the-night Angel doesn't own a watch either. Willow suggests they try counting.
  • Comically Missing the Point:
    • Joyce walks in and asks when Buffy was going to tell her. Buffy thinks she's talking about a pair of earrings that Buffy 'borrowed', but Joyce says that she's referring to the fact that Buffy was accepted to Northwestern.
      • This becomes a Brick Joke when Joyce tells Buffy not to leave the house wearing her earrings.
    • The Mayor surveys his wrecked conference room — most notably the box-shaped batch of oxygen on the table.
    "Well, this is very unfortunate. I just had this conference room redecorated, for Pete's sake. At taxpayers' expense! And, oh yeah— [smashes a chair] They've got my box.
  • Cool Knife: The knife given to Faith is part of a collection designed by world famous knifesmith Gil Hibben. It is called "The Jackal" and was released in 1999.
  • Cut His Heart Out with a Spoon: In City Hall, Willow hides and overhears the Mayor comparing Buffy to a dog, and stating that he plans to put her down like one.
  • Daddy's Little Villain: As with "Enemies", the relationship between Faith and the Mayor is shown as being similar to that of a father and daughter (albeit a very twisted one). Faith has also accepted him as a Parental Substitute, and eagerly awaits having to kill again just to please someone that genuinely cares about her. Which, considering Faith's abusive childhood, actually makes a whole lot of sense.
  • Damsel in Distress: Played with. Willow gets captured by The Mayor and does eventually need rescuing but only because her attempts to liberate herself fell through when she got distracted gathering intelligence about The Mayor's plan which was arguably good trade off since she knew Buffy would get her out anyway.
  • Darkness Equals Death: The Scoobies lock all the doors except one to the school hall, which Xander points out means they're trapped in there.
    Buffy: One way out means one way in. I want to see them coming. (lights go out)
    Xander: I guess they're shy.
  • Defiant to the End: Willow refuses to bend, even at knife point. "Oh, and here I thought you didn't have a good comeback."
  • Deflector Shields: An invisible dome of magic protects the Mayor's box.
  • Department of Redundancy Department: Buffy and Angel tell each other that the Mayor didn't know what he was talking about.
    Angel: Well, he's evil.
    Buffy: Big time. He doesn't even know what a lasting relationship is.
    Angel: No.
    Buffy: Probably the only lasting relationship he's ever had is with... evil.
    Angel: Yeah.
    Buffy: Big, stupid...evil guy.
  • Description Cut: Faith practically glows upon seeing her new knife. Wilkins tells her not to put anyone's eye out with it, "until I tell you to." Faith: "Any particular eyes in mind?" Cut to Buffy and Angel, fighting two vamps.
  • Despite the Plan: An alarm goes off once Buffy grabs the box, which anyone who has watched a heist film should have seen coming. Then the pulley jams, and Angel can't pull her back out.
  • Didn't See That Coming: When confronting Willow, Faith expects her to give her a speech about how they're still her friends and it's not too late for her to turn back. She's taken by surprise when Willow does the exact opposite, telling her point-blank that it is too late for her and now that she's switched sides, she's alone, friendless, and a "big, selfish, worthless waste."
  • Dissimile: Wilkins explains that the errand in question involves something crucial to his ascension. He brightly says that without it, "well, what would Tollhouse cookies be without the chocolate chips?" Faith regards her cookie as if she's actually pondering that zen question. He continues, "A pretty darn big disappointment, I can tell you!"
  • Distinction Without a Difference: Faith admires her gift box and wonders what the big occasion is. The Mayor acts wounded. "Faith! As if I need a reason to show you my affection. Or appreciation for running a small errand at the airport."
  • Enemy Mine: The Scoobies and the Mayor/Faith briefly work together to kill the spidery-buggy demon things that come out of Wilkins's box.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Wilkins gets in Angel's face, saying that he's selfish for keeping Buffy from the life she should have. "Is that what you came back from hell for? Is that your greater purpose?" Wilkins, receiving a blank stare for an answer, disgustedly tells them to go ahead with the trade.
  • Evil Is Petty: Principal Snyder attempts to bust a drug deal, but the lunch bag he confiscated contains only lunch. Hmm, that's sensible. Let's see if Snyder can respond like a complete asshat: "Sit up straight." He's still got it!
  • Exact Words: Xander, on his way to get spell ingredients, spots Cordelia in a clothing store and can't resist needling her about her lack of school acceptance letters. Cordy comes back at him by flinging numerous letters in his face: USC, Colorado State, Duke, and Columbia. What she doesn't mention is that she can no longer afford any of them.
  • Face Palm: Angel can be seen doing this in the background as the Mayor starts giving them fatherly advice.
  • Facial Horror: The Mayor's face-hugging spiders. A cop is messily killed by a Gavrok, while a second one latches onto the Mayor's face.
  • Fakeout Escape: Giles and Wesley peel out in the van, and the vamps, thinking Buffy and Angel are inside, give chase. Stupid vamps. Buffy and Angel, who took cover in the hedges, run off with the box.
  • Feet-First Introduction: The courier stepping off his airplane.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Buffy wonders if this is how she and Angel will spend their nights, "when I'm fifty and you're....the same age you are now."
    • Faith goes to peek inside the box. Wilkins, showing unusual alarm, dives across the desk and slams it shut. "...Don't do that."
    • The Mayor says critically that Buffy is like a loyal dog…to Faith, whom he will at least twice before the episode's end berate for not immediately obeying his command.
    • Xander and Oz discussing their mutual love for the red-haired one.
  • Funny Background Event: When Wilkins is winding up for his Breaking Speech behind Buffy Angel does a Face Palm.
  • Giant Spider: The Gavroks.
  • The Glomp: Willow announcing to Buffy that she "will be matriculating with Class of 2003" at UC Sunnydale. "Say, isn't that where you're going?" Buffy squees and tackles her to the grass.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: Cordy's viciousness toward the Gang is extreme, even by her standards. Xander has an inkling why — his theory is that Cordelia didn't get into any university. Goaded by him, Cordy subverts the trope by dumping out her pile of admissions. However, this is double-subverted when we learn that she's got a job working at a dress shop and, as we'll learn in the following episode, has gone from Queen C to Peasant C, what with her father not paying his taxes. From her perspective, her life went from full of promise to full of hardship overnight.
  • The Guards Must Be Crazy: Leaving Willow alone in a storeroom full of useful utensils. But this pales to a henchvamp helping himself to "just a little taste."
  • Gutted Like a Fish: Sticks and stones might break the Mayor's bones, but words can only hurt Willow. Sensibly, Wilkins warns the Scoobies they might want to show more respect, "unless you want Faith to gut your friend like a sea bass."
  • Hammerspace: According to the Mayor, the Box of Gavrok "holds about fifty...billion of these happy little critters."
  • Handcuffed Briefcase: The courier that brings the Box of Gavrok to Sunnydale has it handcuffed to his wrist. After Faith kills him her vampire assistant points out they don't have the keys to the cuffs, so Faith uses her new knife to cut his hand off.
  • He Knows Too Much: Quoted by Faith when she catches Willow scanning the books. "And that kinda naturally leads to killing."
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Either that or the closest we get to Billow in canon; Willow reveals she's not going to Oxford, but is going to stay in Sunnydale with Buffy, who hugs her so enthusiastically they fall on the grass together.
  • Hostage for MacGuffin: Subverted. The Scoobies have captured the Box of Gavrok belonging to Mayor Wilkins, who has captured Willow. The Scoobies debate the morality of destroying the box instead of giving it to the Mayor, but agree to make the trade. Wesley, however, insists on destroying the box rather than letting Wilkins have it, but Oz then proceeds to smash the pot needed for the ritual to do so to ensure that they will trade for Willow. The Mayor does not attempt to kill Willow anyway, and releases her once he has the box. The result is that Willow is safe, but the Mayor has the box.
  • I Have Your Wicca: Willow being held ransom in exchange for the Box.
  • "I Know You're in There Somewhere" Fight: In a more varied subversion, this exchange between Faith and Willow.
    Faith: 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.
    • It's particularly interesting since Faith's expression and reaction suggests that she wanted to be told that it wasn't too late. (Even if she did deck Willow immediately after this exchange.) It is Faith, though, so it's not that surprising.
  • I Want Them Alive!: Faith hauls off and punches Willow. Willow continues to stack up the verbal points, noting that Faith hit her because she didn't have a comeback. Faith answers that by drawing her knife, but the Mayor calls her off.
  • Idiot Ball: Willow pausing to scan the Books of Ascension. Were she to escape, her side would be holding all the cards; they could destroy the box and stop the ascension. Faith even lampshades this.
  • Implausible Deniability: A henchvamp hears the noise and opens the door, asking what she's doing. She says she's looking for a sucking candy, but realizes that "sucking" isn't a good word to utter around a vampire.
  • Improvised Weapon:
    • The harness jams, and Buffy calls desperately for Angel. Two vamps enter the room. Angel gives up on the harness, jumps down, and grabs the box. Box-fu ensues: Angel swings the crate and smacks the henchvamps with it, even stubbing one's toe.
    • One of the henchvamps hurls a chair at Angel. He catches it, then shatters it over the offender's head.
    • Buffy hurls a vase at a henchvamp's head. Earlier, caught up in her "Mission: Impossible" Cable Drop harness, she uses it to do a flippy-thing and boot another henchvamp in the face.
    • Angel and Buffy flip the table onto fallen guards, slowing them down while the heroes make their escape.
    • Ah, trusty No. 2 pencil. We meet again.
  • Indy Ploy: Buffy reckons that if she stops the Mayor and captures Faith by graduation day, then Wesley and Giles can hold the fort while she's away at college. Giles sides with her and asks for her plan. She doesn't have one. Giles advises the first step is to find out what the Mayor is up to.
    Buffy: Oh. I actually knew that. I thought you meant a more specific plan, y'know. Like with maps and stuff.
    • Brick Joke: Later, Giles and Willow enter with blueprints for City Hall.
      Buffy: What've you got there?
      Giles: Maps and stuff.
  • Ironic Echo: Wesley plays to Buffy's earlier anxieties about remaining in Sunnydale to convince her to destroy the box. "You're the one who said take the fight to the Mayor. You were right."
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Subverted when Wesley interrupts the planning session to remind everyone that the Mayor is, in fact, not an idiot and probably has some sort of magical barrier protecting his box. A deafening silence fills the room. "Oh, we all forgot about that, did we?" Buffy briskly leaves that part to Willow, and everyone files out of the room, leaving Wesley fuming.
    • Zig-Zagged because Wesley argues they should take the time to plan the operation properly. They don't, and during The Caper Willow gets left behind when both teams assume she's with the other lot. Furthermore, while he's undeniably being ruthless and callous towards Willow, Wesley isn't wrong to point out that surrendering the box to the Mayor in exchange for Willow is potentially putting billions of lives at risk for the sake of saving one.
  • Kirk Summation: Willow stalls, saying that she wants to talk to Faith. Faith thinks Willow wants to tell her it's not too late for her, but Willow says 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 like Buffy. Now you have no one. You were a Slayer, and now you're nothing."
  • Last-Second Word Swap: Buffy considers bursting her mom's bubble by telling her she can't leave Sunnydale, but decides to let her have her happy moment, simply saying that she wants to consider her options.
  • Leitmotif: Starting in Season Three, the Buffy/Angel theme "Close Your Eyes" changes, and undergoes a slow metamorphosis that parallels their relationship coming apart. During the Mayor's advice for them we can hear several of the different themes played back to back, indicating that this is a pivotal scene, at least for Angel.
  • Locking MacGyver in the Store Cupboard: Willow looks through the storeroom and only finds file binders and a drawer with pencils. A vampire guard then enters to see what the noise is about, only to catch a magically levitated pencil In the Back.
  • MacGuffin Escort Mission: Faith picking up the box at the airport.
  • Made of Iron: Faith strikes Willow across the mouth in genuine anger. Since Faith is a Slayer (and not inclined to pull punches even when she's in a good mood), only a solid layer of Plot Armor prevents Willow's jaw from shattering, and broken teeth flying about like so much popcorn.
  • "Metaphor" Is My Middle Name: Buffy ponders the conundrum of the Mayor's protective shield, and concludes that it's a job for Wiccan Girl. She asks Willow if she's game. Willow: "Hey, I eat danger for breakfast." Xander jokes that in contrast she panics when faced with breakfast cereal.
  • "Mission: Impossible" Cable Drop: Deconstructed with Buffy's dodgy winch.
  • Mood Whiplash: The Mayor has a hard time keeping the lid on his rage after he discovers the Scoobies have made off with his box. He cheers up when Faith rounds the corner, dragging Willow along at knifepoint.
  • Name Mcadjective: Buffy grouses that she's "tired of waiting for Mayor McSleaze" to make his move. This is a pun on the McDonald's mascot Mayor McCheese.
  • No Honor Among Thieves: The Mayor's delighted to see Faith and the box, but wonders where the courier is. Faith: "I made him an offer he couldn't survive." Wilkins compliments her initiative.
  • Noisy Shut-Up / Not So Stoic: During the shouting match in the library, Oz wordlessly puts it to an end to by getting out of his chair and shoving the urn across the room, smashing it.
  • Oh, Crap!: Snyder hands the box of 'drugs' to a cop and turns back to find himself facing his worst nightmare — a girl more crazy than he thinks Buffy is wielding a humongous knife and, even more terrifying, the Mayor beaming at him in a friendly manner. Snyder is stammering his apologies when the Mayor has his own Oh, Crap! moment — the police officer is opening the box.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business:
    • Wesley snaps at Buffy for the first time when she suggests handing the Box over the Mayor. Oz, who has been quiet throughout, gets up and smashes the urn that could have been used to destroy the box.
    • When Faith gripes about the apparently routine job the Mayor is sending her on, he threatens to take his gift back. Rebel!Girl Faith is immediately cowed, showing how much she's buying into the Mayor's surrogate father role.
  • Oblivious Mockery: Xander assumes Cordelia never got into college, only for her to produce evidence otherwise. He delivers a parting shot that they must have seen a different side of her father's money, completely missing Cordy's grim expression.
  • The Pen Is Mightier than the henchvamp.
  • Perp Sweating: Faith's henchvamp pulls the limousine up to City Hall. He hears a noise, and then Buffy punches the driver's side window in. She drags him out, and with a bright smile asks, "Soooo, what's in the box?" :D
    • Smash Cut to Buffy spilling the goods about the box to her teammates. She admits that the vamp proved uncooperative and needed to be "introduced to Mr. Pointy."
  • Person as Verb: Willow is finishing with the last of the volumes when Faith strolls in. She chides Willow for "Nancy Drewing."
  • Perverted Sniffing: Faith sniffs her new knife like a Cabana cigar.
  • Plot Armor: Faith strikes Willow across the mouth in genuine anger. Since Faith is a Slayer (and not inclined to pull punches even when she's in a good mood), only a solid layer of Plot Armor prevents Willow's jaw from shattering.
  • Precision F-Strike: Wesley's sudden outburst of "Damn it, you listen to me!" during the big argument in the library is notable for being the only time we ever hear him swear (on this show, anyway; he swears a lot more on Angel)
  • Pseudo-Romantic Friendship: Willow gives up the prospect of learning at an elite school so she can stay with Buffy and 'cast spells'. In response to this, Buffy throws herself upon Willow and confesses her love, then they go for coffee; "It's Not a Date, it's a caffeinated beverage", as Willow once put it.
  • Punched Across the Room: Angel's patented spin kick sends a henchvamp flying across the conference room.
  • Pyrrhic Victory: At episode's end, Wesley reckons they're right back where they started.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Willow gives one to Faith, when the latter is holding her at knife-point.
    Willow: Faith, wait. I wanna 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 like Buffy. Now you have no one. You were a Slayer and now you're nothing. You're just a big selfish, worthless waste.
  • Red Shirt: One of the cops starts to open the box. The Mayor warns him not to, but it's too late. With a high-pitched shriek, a large black beetle-like creature jumps out and attaches itself to the cop's face. The cop yells and struggles with the bug, until a large pool of blood emerges from his head and he goes silent.
  • Rule of Symbolism:
    • In a cemetery, Angel and Buffy dust a couple of vampires together. Buffy expresses concern that they are in a rut; all they do is patrol and Angel never takes her anywhere new. Angel protests that the fire demon nest on the beach was a nice change of pace.
    • Likewise in the Cordelia/Xander ex-relationship. Both sides are stuck in their Snark-to-Snark Combat with no idea of how to end it.
  • Scare Chord: Jumpin' Gavroks!
  • Selective Obliviousness: Buffy laments that Joyce is in "a continent of denial" regarding college, not comprehending that Buffy can't leave Sunnydale yet.
  • Sunnydale Is a Statistic: Wes is furious that the Scooby gang would consider exchanging the box for Willow, given that thousands will die if the Ascension takes place.
  • Snakes Are Evil/Tattooed Crook: The Courier has a snake-tattooed face and snakeskin boots.
  • Stab the Scorpion: Faith turns toward Wesley and draws her knife. He Screams Like a Little Girl but ducks as she lets the knife fly. It impales the other bug on the wall.
  • Storming the Castle: Buffy says they should take the fight to City Hall. Wesley thinks that's too risky, but Giles agrees with her, and suggests finding out what the Mayor's up to.
  • Talk to the Fist: Faith's response to Willow's "The Reason You Suck" Speech. "You hurt me, I hurt you. I'm just a little more efficient." Willow gets right up again. "And here I just thought you didn't have a comeback." Cue Faith pulling out her big knife; fortunately the Mayor intervenes.
  • This Is Unforgivable!: Faith actually tries to get Willow to give her the whole "you can still be a good guy" speech, instead getting Willow telling her she's way past forgiveness. At least part of this is because she had kidnapped and tied up Willow though.
  • Villain Has a Point: The Mayor provides frank and accurate advice on why Buffy and Angel's relationship is doomed to fail, opening up about his own experiences of a Mayfly–December Romance (his wife ended up old and bitter and cursed him with her last breath) — while he's trying to kill the both of them. Even more remarkably, not only is this point also made to Angel by Joyce Summers, but Angel accepts that the Mayor was right.
    Wilkins: Well, I wish you kids the best, I really do. But if you don’t mind a bit of fatherly advice, I well, gosh, I don’t see much of a future for you two. I don’t sense a lasting relationship, and not just because I plan to kill the both of you— You two have a bumpy road ahead.
  • Volleying Insults: Xander and Cordelia. Lampshaded by Buffy, who reminds them to breathe between insults.
  • We Meet Again
    Wilkins: So. You're the little girl that's been causing me all this trouble. She's pretty, Angel! A little skinny.
  • Where Do You Think You Are?:
    Buffy: There are better schools.
    Willow: Sunnydale's not bad. A-And I can design my own curriculum.
    Buffy: Okay, well, there are safer schools. THERE ARE SAFER PRISONS! I can't let you stay because of me.
  • The X of Y: The Box of Gavrok
  • Who Wants to Live Forever?: The Mayor seems pretty happy with his Immortality but notes how horrible it was to see his wife age normally and grow to despise him for his eternal youth. He says that he doesn't want Angel and Buffy to go through the same thing that he did.