Choices (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)

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Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode
Buffy 3x19.jpg
Faith receives a special knife from the Mayor as a gift
Episode no. Season 3
Episode 19
Directed by James A. Contner
Written by David Fury
Production code 3ABB19
Original air date May 4, 1999
Guest appearance(s)
Episode chronology
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"The Prom"
List of Buffy the Vampire Slayer episodes

"Choices" is the 19th episode of season 3 of the television show Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Plot synopsis[edit]

A box - the Box of Gavrok - is due to arrive by courier at the airport. The Mayor offers Faith a knife in return for intercepting it. In between fighting vampires, Buffy complains that Angel never takes her anywhere new. New is exactly where Buffy's mom, Joyce, wants her to go: Northwestern, or one of the other good schools she's been accepted to that aren't in Sunnydale. Buffy, who has also been accepted at the University of California, Sunnydale is reluctant to make any plans.

At school, Principal Snyder's obsessive drug search includes a student's lunch. Buffy, who reviews the reasons she can't leave Sunnydale, is not the only one with college news: Willow is awash in acceptances from Harvard, Yale, MIT, and even Oxford. Xander is less fortunate, but has plans to travel like Jack Kerouac to find his future. Cordelia offers insults, but no information about her own situation.

Buffy worries Wesley and Giles by telling them that she wants out of Sunnydale. She offers a deal: if she takes the offensive against the Mayor, defeats him, and stop the ascension, they could afford to be Slayerless for long enough for her to go away to college.

That night, Faith does her job: she arrives at the airport, kills the courier, and separate him from the box by taking off his hand. Watching from the bushes, Buffy sees Faith arrive in a limo to deliver the box to the Mayor. After the coast is clear, Buffy forces the driver to disclose information about the box before staking him with Kendra's Mr. Pointy.

The gang plan the attack on City Hall to steal the Box of Gavrok: it is being kept in a top-floor conference room. First, Willow will remove the magic protecting the box so Buffy and Angel can take it. Then, Xander and Oz will prepare the ritual Willow will use to destroy the box. Xander is sent in search of ingredients; en route he spots Cordelia in a clothing store, where her mystery deepens: she has in fact been accepted to a batch of good schools, including Columbia and Duke.

That night, they execute the plan. Wesley and Giles drop off Buffy, Willow and Angel at City Hall. While Xander and Oz follow Willow's directions to create the necessary potion, Willow performs the spell at City Hall so Angel can lower Buffy through the skylight to grab the box. Everything goes fine until she picks up the box, when two things happen: the guy ropes stick and an alarm goes off. As two vampires enter menacingly, Angel drops to Buffy's rescue. They escape, box in hand. The Mayor's anger and the gang's relief reverse when all discover that Faith has captured Willow.

A library discussion ensues: is Willow's life worth those of the many thousands who would be saved if the box is destroyed? Oz casts the final vote by smashing the pot containing the potion needed for the ritual. Buffy tells Giles to set up a meeting to exchange Willow for the Box of Gavrok.

At City Hall, Willow escapes from the room she's imprisoned in and examines the Mayor's office. She is reading the Books of Ascension when Faith finds her. Giles's call comes in time to stop Faith from killing her.

The meeting is in the school cafeteria. The Mayor, chatty as ever, spends a little time telling Buffy and Angel that they have no future together. They make the trade, but are disrupted by Principal Snyder and his security guards, still bent on drug-busting. One of the guards opens the box, which gives a clue to its contents: a large beetle-like creature jumps out and kills him. Another beetle breaks free and the two attack the Mayor and Buffy. Both beetles are killed – one by a throw of Faith's new knife, which she is forced to leave behind.

Back at the library, Willow presents Giles with a few important pages she tore from the Books of Ascension she hopes will have helpful clues. In the meantime, Wesley counts the cost of her rescue: the gang are now back exactly where they started, with no way to stop the Ascension.

At school the next day, Buffy and Willow talk again about their future. Buffy now knows she can't leave; Willow now knows she doesn't want to leave because fighting evil and studying Wicca are what she wants to do. Both will attend UC Sunnydale. Meanwhile, we learn a piece of Cordelia's secret: she's working at that clothing shop. On patrol late that night Buffy and Angel try to convince each other that the Mayor was wrong. After all, he's evil.



  • After the police officer is killed in the cafeteria, he visibly blinks as the beetle crawls away.

Arc significance[edit]

  • Believing Cordelia is in a shop to buy clothes, Xander later learns ("The Prom") that she actually works there because she needs the income.
  • While working out Willow's instructions for the potion, Xander and Oz observe the cute stick figure drawings Willow has made of them, one showing Oz with a little guitar. He fondly says "There's nobody like my Will'" and Xander agrees.This moment of mutual affection for Willow signifies that they have firmly both moved on from the previous tension following Willow and Xander's infidelity.
  • When Faith has to leave her knife behind after pinning one of the scuttling scarabs to the wall, she alters her own path ("Graduation Day, Part One") and seals the Mayor's doom ("Graduation Day, Part Two).


  • The Mayor is the second character (the first being Spike) who vocalizes the fact that Buffy and Angel's future together as a couple is ultimately doomed. He has experienced the heartache of being an immortal being and watching his mortal wife grow old and resenting him for his eternal youth, which is something that Buffy and Angel will need to confront if they decide to spend their lives together. He also alludes to the fact that they can never have a sexual relationship because they risk Angel losing his soul, something which they have clearly been struggling with throughout the season since Angel's return. Finally, the Mayor points out that Angel is being selfish by allowing their closeness to continue, as he can never truly offer Buffy the fulfilling life that she deserves. These harsh truths have clearly crossed the minds of both Buffy and Angel, however up until now they have been living in denial of these realities. Although the Mayor's words resonate hard with Angel, Buffy remains in denial. The fate of their relationship is determined later in the season.
  • We learn that Buffy has an aunt in Illinois, Arlene. She appears to be Joyce's sister since Joyce phones her to talk about Buffy's acceptance to Northwestern University.
  • Buffy mentions Mr. Pointy, the stake Kendra used to kill vampires, she gave it to Buffy in "Becoming" to kill Angel in his evil form.

Cultural references[edit]

  • On the Road: Xander is reading Jack Kerouac, which inspires to him to go on a road trip after graduation. However, as Buffy learns in Season Four, he only makes it as far as Oxnard when his car breaks down.
  • The Godfather: When the Mayor asks Faith, "What happened to the courier? I was supposed to pay him," she replies, "I made him an offer he couldn't survive."
  • Star Wars: Buffy notes Faith has turned to "the dark side".

External links[edit]