This girl has a history of mental problems dating back to early childhood. I’m a blood sucking fiend! Look at my outfit!
Ah, “Dopplegängland.” Who doesn’t love “Dopplegängland”? No one, that’s who, and anyone who says otherwise is lying or hasn’t seen it. We’ve got the return of Evil Willow, Regular Willow doing her bad guys impersonation, some Oz bon mots, and precious little evidence of Xander behaving like a douche. Wins all around!
Let’s get the b-plots out of the way:
Faith is newly evil and pretending to be good. Instead of acting contrite, she jokes around with Buffy, whom she recently tried to frame as murder, and gets all chummy with Willow in her quest to spy for the Mayor. As a reward, she gets a spiffy new apartment. That’s one of the great things about the Mayor. He doesn’t feel like it’s OK for a teenaged girl to bed down in a crummy motel that charges by the hour, but he’s willing to murder a different teenaged girl because she might be able to crack his security system. The man has a complicated and well-defined moral code. Maybe if Faith had some of his folksy charm people wouldn’t have been so mad about that thing where she murdered a guy and then disposed of his body. Aw shucks, you guys, it was just an accident!
Faith is mostly background here. She’s just being set up so we can catch everyone catching her double crossing them.
Anya is back and pissed. She’s more than a thousand years old and no one will sell her a beer. She’s flunking math. She’s a nobody. Her former demon overlord refuses to help her, so she does the logical thing of bending time and space to snatch her power center back from the universe Giles destroyed it in. Instead of her necklace, Anya (with Willow’s assistance) draws forth Evil Willow. Hilarity ensues.
The newly human Anya of Season 3 is far more capable than the Anya of the later seasons. She appears to understand money, liquor laws, and advanced astrophysics. Not that I don’t love “Anya who doesn’t get human things” from Season 4 on, but the contrast between this Anya and that Anya is striking enough that one must wonder if she suffered severe head trauma over the summer.
And so we come to Willow. Everyone loves Willow. She’s so accommodating. Her hair is pretty. She’s smart. And she gets walked over, all the time. Willow-centric episodes tend to be very emotionally deep because she’s so easy for the audience to relate to, even with her witch powers and her werewolf boyfriend. Even if we weren’t girls (or guys) like her, we probably knew one or two of them.
It seems, on the surface, a relatively light hearted episode. Evil Willow was instantly a fan favorite, so bringing her back to run around for another show is a no-brainer. Every line out of her mouth is gold. Even the ones where she’s threatening to kill people. She hits on herself, feels up Xander’s ass (maybe?), gets really upset by being dressed in Will’s frumpy outfit, and tries to take over the Bronze. The confusion over Evil Willow and Willow even works in Willow’s favor as being an ass kicker seems to earn her a little respect back at Sunnydale high.
“Dopplegängland” can be enjoyed at a very high quality one-off. I laughed so hard watching it again my voice took on a certain “braying cackle” tone that usually indicates I’m ticked pink in every way possible. But a lot of what makes the episode great is the amount of groundwork it’s doing in foreshadowing developments in Willow’s personality over the next four years. Evil Willow may not have Season 6 Willow’s black hair, but they sure both have the same angry souls.
So many 1st act rifles are introduced in this episode!
The floating pencil — Willow’s floating pencil is the most literal gun in the room since she’ll use that same trick to kill a vampire in a later episode.
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… That’s a good point.
“And I think I’m kinda gay.” While Whedon is on record saying he knew one of the Scoobies was eventually going to come out as gay, he swears he hadn’t decided it was going to be Willow yet. However, her line ends up being one huge foreshadowing of Willow’s coming out.
“I mean, she’s not me — we have a big nothing in common, but — still.” Sadly, as Angel refrains from pointing out, there’s plenty of “you” in the vampire “you” become. Willow is still emotionally immature in these early episodes, but there’s a whole heap of darkness she’s keeping inside. Evil Willow is just the first glimpse of what she’s capable of, in the right setting. She’s already made some ethical lapses when it come to magic — trying to put a delusting spell on Xander without his permission, quickly jumping to bend time and space with Anya, but it gets worse. It is entirely no coincidence that Willow says “Bored now” before flaying Warren. Even the styling of Willow’s outfit in the Season 6 meltdown is reminiscent of Evil Willow’s clothes; the jackets have the same silhouette with the pinched in waist and bell sleeves, as do the dark pants and boots she wears in both outfits.
Next week: “Enemies”