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A continuing season-by-season review of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. By the way, it seems a little silly to say this about a show that ended 7 years ago, but these reviews contain spoilers. If you haven't watched the show yet and you want surprises, don't read this.

Overview: Season 2 Ends with Buffy in the bad place: She's kicked out of school, kicked out of her house, forced to make a deal with her nemesis, and finally forced to kill her lover, Angel. His soul is restored, but not before a portal opens that will suck the world into hell unless he is killed. When season 3 begins, she's more or less in the same place, emotionally. But she's in a different place, geographically- she's run off to LA, and is living under the name Anne, separating herself from any meaningful human contact. By the end of the episode, she returns home -- but not before literally going through hell. What follows is a season's worth of consistently good episodes -- a distinction shared by no other season of Buffy. Even after she returns to Sunnydale, she's not fully recovered. She still has to make amends with her friends and family and deal with difficult choices. This is made all the more difficult when Angel returns mysteriously. Also complicating matters is Faith, a new slayer (The whole "2 slayers" things is complicated, but it comes out of the 2nd season.) Faith is energetic, tough, absolutely in love with being a slayer, and more than just a little unstable. It soon becomes clear that she enjoys her job a little too much. After accidentally killing a man, she switches sides completely, joining up with Sunnydale's Mayor Richard Wilkins, who is on his way to becoming a full-fledged demon, an event will put a damper on Buffy and the gangs' high-school graduation.
As I said before, every episode of season 3 is good, and some of the best episodes of the whole series come from this season: like the "It's a Dystopian Life" episode, "The Wish," the Angel backstory episode "Amends," and "Earshot". The last of these, in which a newly-psychic Buffy tries to hunt down a mass-murderer at the school, actually had to be pulled and re-aired in the fall due to the events at Columbine.

Main Villain: The Mayor, who combines law-and-order wholesomeness with an intense evil and malice. And a pretty humorous Howard Hughes style germophobia

Main Message: Growing up means making hard choices, and it's only your friends who can really get you through.

Best Episode: Very hard to pick, but I'd probably have to go with the two-part finale "Graduation Day." Buffy and her friends have to face almost certain destruction, and only win when the other student's from Sunnydale high finally repay Buffy for saving their lives over and over again.

Worst Episode: I hate to do this, but I have to say "Beauty and the Beasts," not because it's a bad episode, but because it sends a problematic message about domestic violence. I'm sure it's unintentional, but you don't have to read too far into the text to get the message "it's girls' fault when they get beat up by their boyfriends"

Why you would argue that it's the best season: Well, because it, you know, is. Like, why would you argue that the team that scores the most point wins the game? Season 3 has the highest percentage of great episodes.

Why you might not make that argument: Um... well, if I have to... Here's the thing: it comes down to the fact that Buffy is a high school show. One of its strengths is that it's more about the characters than it is about them being in high school. But it's still a show in which prom is the highlight of your life. As an adult, that can be a little hard to relate to. And seriously, for the geeks who watch this show, prom might not have been such a great thing.

I distinctly remember the second part of Graduation Day being delayed for some reason. I think it was because of the Columbine Shootings or something similar. Also that episode is notable to me personally because one of my former co-workers from Universal Studios was an extra during one of the battle scenes towards the end of the second part.

Yes. As I recall, both "Earshot" and "Graduation Day, Part 2" were both delayed because of Coumbine.

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