Buffy, the Vampire Slayer
Broadcast January 9, 2001
"Triangle" takes a break from the weightier issues of the 2000-2001 Season so far and gives us a comedy episode of sorts, this time focusing on Willow and Anya. Willow is shown to have some jealousy and protectiveness-related anger towards Anya, and the problem feels right even if it's never been made all that clear before. Meanwhile, Buffy manages to pretend it's all about her.
While Buffy sulks around over the loss of Riley, who left her for the military, Giles heads off to England to consult the Watcher Council about the Scooby Gang's most recent long-term nemesis, Glori. He leaves Anya in charge of the magic shop, but Willow makes a point of belittling Anya and insists on helping with the shop. She and Anya snipe at one another while Willow does magic spells, and amidst their arguing and spell casting, the girls manage to conjure an enormous troll.
The hammer-wielding troll, who speaks like Thor and rumbles across Sunnydale banging on things and demanding babies to eat, is actually an old flame of Anya. (It turns out she was offered the demon job after turning her boyfriend into this troll.) The chase for the troll-- which allows Willow and Anya to work out the differences between them, both vowing never to hurt Xander-- ends in the magic shop once more, where Xander is offered the chance to save one of the two girls. He refuses, receiving a broken wrist for his trouble. In the end, Buffy arrives and beats the troll while Willow sends it to another dimension. We fade out with a brief nod to continuity, as Giles returns from England to report that the Watchers know nothing about Glori, and Dawn overhears him, Buffy and Joyce discussing the mystery of Dawn, the girl who should not exist.
First and foremost, this Anya/Willow springs more or less fully grown from the foreheads of the powers that be, because I don't recall seeing much of an animosity between the two. "Triangle," in fact, seems to redress that, insisting that if there hasn't been tension, there should be. One benefit is that we get to see a new facet of Willow, who like anybody can shrill and petty given the proper catalyst. These women threaten one another: they each have a romantic link to Xander, and neither would like to see him hurt. Anya's fear is that Willow will steal Xander away, whereas Willow, who now plays for a different team, still fears Anya will eventually kill Xander, since it's what she was trained to do as a Vengeance Demon. All of this amounts to very little, of course, since in the end the two sort of shake on maintaining a happy status quo.
Xander and Spike, meanwhile, have yet another chummy beer-and-pool confab, which is always effective and funny because Spike remains unapologetically evil. I love Spike's response when the troll busts in and asks where he might find some babies: he turns to Xander and shrugs, "What do you think, the hospital?"
God, but for a soul for Spike. The poor vampire king has fallen in love with Buffy, and spends much of this episode hilariously practicing his wooing lines (complete with an offer of chocolates) to a blonde mannequin. My prediction? This relationship is on a trajectory to actually happen, and I say that because right now, nothing is going right for Spike. It's charming that Spike looks to Buffy with pride when he does not feed off a bloody injured woman, and Buffy scorns him. He tries, this evil one. I wonder, though, if Spike might cause yet another revision of the rules of vampires in the Buffy world. What if the demon in a vampire can be reformed by love?
Meanwhile, Buffy manages to make it all about her, fighting the troll with greater ferocity because she insists that Xander and Anya's love is "everlasting," and won't hear differently. This has nothing to do with her friends and everything to do with the recent departure of Riley, the boyfriend driven from the show by the fans. (I often wonder what it would look like to have a show where the characters could acknowledge such strange forces at work, causing them to dump one boyfriend and take another, or to move to another city and take a whole new job.)
Last notes, in brief: Anya remains one of the coolest creations of the show, Willow's new hair is cute, and it's almost as nice to see Buffy and Tara bonding as it is to see Joyce the recent cancer survivor up, about and in regular, non-bathrobe clothes.