"Choices" is the nineteenth episode of the third season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and is the fifty-third episode altogether. Written by David Fury and directed by James A. Contner, it originally broadcast on May 4, 1999 on The WB.
THERE'S NO TIME LIKE THE PRESENT — Since Faith's turn to the dark side seems to have put the proverbial kibosh on Buffy's chances of ever getting out of Sunnydale to go away to college, Buffy decides to launch an offensive and shut down the Mayor's plans for "Ascension." Meanwhile, plans for the future are the order of the day, as Willow tries to choose among a bevy of college acceptances, Xander prepares to hit the road on a Kerouac-inspired adventure and Buffy and Angel refuse to face the insurmountable obstacles to a successful life together.
Mayor Wilkins gives Faith a knife for a gift in exchange for an errand he asks her to handle for him. Buffy and Angel are fighting off vampires at a cemetery. They then discuss their relationship and how it seems to be going nowhere. Joyce finds out that Buffy was accepted to Northwestern University, but Buffy is reluctant to make any plans for leaving because of what she'd be leaving behind. Joyce doesn't seem to be hearing a word of it and goes to call family members in Illinois.
At school, Principal Snyder is on a drug search (even searching a student's lunch in the process). Buffy and friends discuss their college futures and Buffy mentions that she did get accepted to the University of California, Sunnydale so she doesn't have to leave town in order to go to college. Willow on the other hand has been accepted to every school in the country and some out of, including Oxford. Xander has plans to travel around and find out what his future may be since college isn't posing as much of an option.
Cordelia arrives for long enough to insult everyone based on their college futures. Buffy tells Wesley and Giles that she wants out of Sunnydale. The two remind her that its not as simple as just wanting to leave as the Slayer is needed in Sunnydale, but Buffy refuses to be defined by her role. Buffy then decides that, instead of having everyone sitting around waiting for graduation day, they should take the offensive against the Mayor and bring the fight to him. Giles agrees, and they decide that the first order to business should be to find out what the Mayor is up to at the moment.
Later that night, one of Mayor Wilkins's vampire lackeys arrives to meet the box at the Sunnydale Airport, however the courier refuses to hand it over as the Mayor isn't present as agreed. Before he can get too much further, Faith kills the courier with her longbow and takes off his hand to separate him from the box. Buffy watches from the bushes as Faith arrives in a limo and brings the box to the Mayor. After the coast is clear, Buffy attacks the vampire and forces information about the box out of him before staking him.
When Buffy returns to the library, with information about the Box of Gavrok, Giles and Willow bring maps of the City Hall so that they can plan to infiltrate the building in order to take the box from the Mayor. The box, which is being kept in a top floor conference room is protected by magic — which they plan to have Willow handle so they get to the box. Xander is sent off in search of supplies for the Breath of the Atropyx, a ritual that will destroy the box. Wesley is annoyed that no one will listen to him, and feels that they are rushing this too much.
On his shopping trip, Xander spies Cordelia in April Fools clothing shop. He stops in long enough to give her his best comeback to the insults she provided him the day before but she shocks him with her acceptance letters to several very important colleges. That night, Wesley and Giles drop off Buffy, Willow, and Angel at City Hall. Back at the library, Xander and Oz follow Willow's instructions to prepare the ritual to destroy the box.
After Willow performs the spell, she leaves and Buffy gets ready to take the box. Angel lowers her through the skylight to take the box. After she gets the box though, an alarm goes off and the rope gets stuck. Buffy is left hanging as two vampires enter. Unable to get Buffy free, Angel leaps into the fray and the two fight the vampires. After tearing up the conference room, they escape and hide in the bushes while Giles and Wesley cause a diversion.
Mayor Wilkins is extremely angry that they got away with his box, but he suddenly becomes very happy when he finds that Faith has captured Willow. The gang don't find out about Willow's capture until they get back to the library (as each group thought she was with the other) and they're all very upset, especially Oz who sits in silence. Buffy decides that they will trade the box for Willow. Wesley is strongly against it and tells Buffy that she was right to take the offensive against the Mayor, and that by giving up the box they are sentencing all of Sunnydale to death.
Everyone fights over the issue until Oz ends the argument by angrily smashing the pot needed for the ritual. With that, the matter is settled; they'll trade the box for Willow. The gang prepare to make the call.
Willow tries to escape from the room she's locked in, but only succeeds in attracting the attention of a vampire guard. He tries to taste a bit of her blood, but she levitates a pencil and stakes him before he can take a bite. Willow sneaks out of her room and finds the Mayor's office. Inside, she finds the Books of Ascension, which she reads until Faith discovers her. In the ensuing confrontation, Willow launches a tirade against Faith, informing her that, despite her rough life, she had a lot working with the Scoobies, and now that she is working for the Mayor, she is now alone, friendless, and a "big, selfish, worthless waste."
Having been expecting a speech on how it was not too late for her to turn back, Faith is briefly taken aback, but quickly overcomes it and physically assaults Willow before Mayor Wilkins enters and informs them that the Scoobies have negotiated a deal.
The meeting takes place in the cafeteria where the Scooby Gang meet the Mayor and his crew armed with weapons. The Mayor enjoying finally meeting Buffy in person, but Buffy isn't interested in pleasantries and demands Willow be let go.
The Mayor instead gives a speech about how he doesn't think that Buffy and Angel should be together because they don't have any kind of real future together, as she will age while he will stay the same as well as the constant danger of him losing his soul if he feels a moment of happiness. The trade is made, however the smooth transaction is ruined when Principal Snyder shows up with security guards before anyone can leave, expecting to find drugs in the box.
The Mayor then reveals himself to Snyder who quickly apologizes for the interruption, but before he can leave one of the guards opens the box and a large beetle-like creature crawls out and kills him. Another beetle breaks free and the two manage to attack The Mayor and Buffy. Both beetles are killed, one with the knife Mayor Wilkins gave Faith. The Mayor tells everyone that the box contains "about fifty-billion of these happy little critters" and threatens to open it again if Buffy gives him any trouble. He then leaves, box in hand with Faith following behind, reluctantly leaving behind the knife. Snyder, shocked is standing with a chair, holding it like a shield and Buffy asks: "Snyder, you alive in there?"; Snyder furiously asks the gang why they all couldn't be dealing drugs like normal people.
At the library, Willow tells everyone her story. Giles presses Willow for any information she might remember from the Books of Ascension. Willow tells him she doesn't remember much of it, but did see a few pages which looked important... which she then produces, having torn them from the books. Giles gratefully takes them off to research, while Wesley reminds Buffy that the Scooby Gang are now back exactly where they started, with no way to stop the Ascension.
At school the next day, Buffy has accepted that she can't leave Sunnydale understanding that even if Mayor Wilkins is stopped there's always going to be another evil around the corner. Willow reveals that despite being accepted by every college in the country and some in Europe, she's decided to attend UC Sunnydale. Buffy tells Willow she doesn't have to make that kind of sacrifice, but Willow insists that it isn't; she realized when she was being held captive that she wanted to continue fighting against evil and if she's going to continue learning Wicca, there's no better place to be than the Hellmouth. Buffy is touched deeply by her friend's gesture.
Cordelia, meanwhile, is posing in front of a mirror with a fashionable and expensive-looking prom dress. The scene is upended, however, when her manager approaches and tells her to get back to work, revealing that Cordelia is not shopping; in spite of Xander's jibes about her father's money, she has been forced to take a menial retail job.
That night Buffy and Angel talk about what the Mayor said about their relationship. They both insist that he doesn't know what he's talking about, but both can't help but feel that his words had a chord of truth about them.
- Xander tells the Scoobies of his plans of traveling after graduation, as he'll tell Buffy about its failure in "The Freshman".
- After the accident in "Bad Girls", Faith kills a human for a second time, killing for Wilkins once more in "Graduation Day, Part One".
- This episode marks the first time that Buffy and Wilkins actually meet, even though they were in the same room at the City Hall press conference in "Gingerbread" and crossed paths in the sewers in "Band Candy".
- Wilkins asks Angel what sort of future he can give Buffy, planting the seeds for Angel breaking up with her in the next episode "The Prom".
- This episode reveals Cordy's financial woes for the first time. She will confess her situation to Xander in "The Prom".
- The security guard killed by the spiders is the ninth member of the Sunnydale High staff to die in the series, after teacher Stephen Gregory ("Teacher's Pet"), principal Robert Flutie ("The Pack"), teacher Jennifer Calendar ("Passion"), teacher Ellen Frank, teacher Grace Newman ("I Only Have Eyes for You"), nurse Ruth Greenliegh, coach Carl Marin ("Go Fish"), and counselor Stephen Platt ("Beauty and the Beasts").
- Mr. Chase (Only mentioned)
- Cordelia Chase
- Darlene (Only mentioned)
- Rupert Giles
- Alexander Harris
- Faith Lehane
- Daniel Osbourne
- Willow Rosenberg
- Rusty (Only mentioned)
- Buffy Summers
- Joyce Summers
- Edna May Wilkins (Only mentioned)
- Richard Wilkins
- Wesley Wyndam-Pryce
- Unidentified courier
- Unidentified vampire guard
- Unidentified vampire lackey (Choices)
Organizations and titlesEdit
- Oxnard (Only mentioned)
Weapons and objectsEdit
- Books of Ascension
- Box of Gavrok
- Faith Lehane's knife
- Mystery of Acathla
- Mr. Pointy (Only mentioned)
Rituals and spellsEdit
- Ascension (Only mentioned)
- Breath of the Atropyx
- Dissolution spell
- Ritual of Restoration (Only mentioned)
- A vampire, staked by Angel.
- A vampire, staked by Buffy.
- A courier, shot with an arrow by Faith.
- A vampire, dusted by Buffy.
- A vampire guard, staked with a pencil by Willow.
- A security guard, killed by a Gavrock spider.
- A Gavrock spider, killed by Buffy.
- A Gavrock spider, killed by Faith.
Behind the scenesEdit
Pop culture referencesEdit
- Xander is reading the famous novel On the Road by Jack Kerouac.
- Xander mentions the bohemians.
- Cordelia mentions the brand of skin care and acne medication Clearasil.
- Discussing colleges, the Scoobies list the Northwestern University, University of Oxford, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, University of Southern California, Colorado State University, Duke University, and Columbia University.
Goofs, bloopers & continuity errorsEdit
- After Faith shoots the courier, she puts the longbow down before jumping down to meet the vampire. But in the next shot, she's holding the longbow again.
- After the Gavrok spider jumps onto Buffy's back and she smashes it, when the camera switches to Xander he's laughing at first but covers it up.
- The security guard that was supposedly killed by the Gavrok spider twitches his eyelids after the creature leaves his face.
- Armenian: "Որոշումներ" (Decisions)
- Czech: "Volby" (Choices)
- Finnish: "Valintoja" (Choices)
- French: "La boite de Gavrock" (The Box of Gavrok)
- German: "Die Box von Gavrock" (The Box of Gavrok)
- Hungarian: "Választások" (Choices)
- Italian: "Scelte" (Choices)
- Japanese: "選択" (Choice)
- Polish: "Na rozstaju" (At the Crossroads)
- Portuguese (Brazil): "Opções" (Options)
- Romanian: "Alegeri" (Choices)
- Russian: "Решения" (Solutions)
- Spanish (Latin America): "Opciones" (Options)
- Spanish (Spain): "Decisiones" (Decisions)
- The book The Willow Files, Volume 2 includes a novelization of this episode.
- The City Hall floor plans of featured in this episode are included as replicas in the reference book The Making of a Slayer.
- Wilkins with the Box of Gavrok is included as an illustration for the Buffy the Vampire Slayer Adult Coloring Book.
- This episode's original score is featured in the album Buffy the Vampire Slayer Soundtrack Collection.
Behind the scenesEdit
|Buffy - "So this is our future? This is how we're going to spend our nights when I'm fifty and you're... the same age you are now?" [A vampire growls behind them.]|
|Angel - "Let's just get you to fifty."|
|Buffy - "Liking that plan."|
|Buffy - "Well, I don't think I can talk any slower, Wes. I want to leave."|
|Wesley - "What? Now?"|
|Buffy - "No, not now. After I graduate, you know, college?"|
|Wesley - "But you're a Slayer."|
|Buffy - "Yeah. I'm also a person. You can't just define me by my slayer-ness. That's... something-ism."|
|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."|
|Faith - [Knocks Willow to the ground] "You hurt me, I hurt you. I'm just a little more efficient."|
|Willow - "Aw, and here I just thought you didn't have a comeback."|
|Snyder - "You... all of you. Why couldn't you be dealing drugs like normal people?"|
|Willow - "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!"|
|Buffy - "I kind of love you.|
|Willow - "And besides, I have a shot at being a badass Wicca, what better place to learn."|