|Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode|
Vampire Willow (from "The Wish") captures Willow
|Episode no.||Season 3
|Directed by||Joss Whedon|
|Written by||Joss Whedon|
|Original air date||February 23, 1999|
"Doppelgangland" is the sixteenth episode of the third season of the fantasy television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997–2003). It was written and directed by the show's creator, Joss Whedon, and originally aired on The WB Television Network in the United States on February 23, 1999. The episode's title is derived from the term "Doppelgänger", a German word for a look-alike or double of a living person.
The premise of Buffy the Vampire Slayer is that an adolescent girl, Buffy Summers, is chosen by mystical forces and given superhuman powers to kill vampires, demons, and other evil creatures in the fictional town of Sunnydale. She is supported by a close circle of family and friends, nicknamed the Scooby Gang. "Doppelgangland" revisits the alternate reality created in the ninth episode of the third season, "The Wish", in which Buffy never arrived in Sunnydale and vampires ruled the city. In "Doppelgangland", when Anya, a vengeance demon who previously granted the wish, attempts a spell to regain her powers. The spell fails and pulls the alternate universe's Willow (Alyson Hannigan)—an evil vampire—into the current world and inevitably face-to-face with her human counterpart.
"Doppelgangland" primarily focuses on the character Willow, much like the season three episode "The Zeppo" focuses on the character Xander. The episode was highly praised by the media and critics upon its airing, and it is widely considered to be one of the best episodes in the series.
In the show, Buffy Summers is a teenager who, at the age of fifteen, was chosen by mystical forces to be the latest Slayer, a girl endowed with superhuman powers to fight and defeat vampires, demons, and other evil forces. After moving to the fictional town of Sunnydale, she befriends Willow Rosenberg and Xander Harris (Nicholas Brendon), who join her in the struggle against evil. They are guided by Buffy's Watcher, Rupert Giles (Anthony Stewart Head), who is well-versed in demonology and is responsible for Buffy's training as a Slayer. During season two, Willow begins to experiment with magic, eventually becoming a formidable witch.
In the third season, Buffy returns to Sunnydale after attempting a new start in Los Angeles. However, she struggles to regain her old life. Willow and Xander address and act on their mutual attraction. After a vampire named Spike captures the two, Willow and Xander share a kiss that Oz (Seth Green) and Cordelia (Charisma Carpenter), their respective significant others, witness. Upon the arrival of a vengeance demon named "Anya", Cordelia makes a wish that Buffy had never arrived in Sunnydale, creating an alternate reality in which vampires rule the city. After Giles destroys her amulet, Anya loses her powers and the previous state of Sunnydale is restored.
According to Buffy scholar Roz Kaveney, episodes in the third season address various forms of betrayal.
Anya unsuccessfully entreats D'Hoffryn to restore her demonic powers.
Principal Snyder browbeats Willow into tutoring basketball star Percy West. At Giles's request, Willow hacks into Mayor Wilkins's files; when Faith finds out, she alerts him of the intrusion. Wilkins presents Faith with a fully furnished apartment and then tells her he plans to have Willow killed.
Percy makes it clear that his idea of "tutoring" is that Willow should do his homework, and Willow does not correct him. Frustrated and unhappy, Willow then quarrels with Buffy and Xander and storms away. Willow assists Anya with a spell, but their conjuration goes awry, summoning "Willow" from "The Wish" rather than retrieving the magic amulet Anya sought. Neither Anya nor Willow realizes the consequences of their spell.
Vampire Willow goes to the Bronze, where she fights with Percy, throwing him across the pool table, and shows her vampire face to Xander and Buffy. Two vampires sent by the Mayor attack her, but she turns them to her side. Buffy and Xander tell Giles that Willow has been killed and turned vampiric, but the genuine Willow arrives to demonstrate their error.
Angel and Anya drop into the Bronze. Vampire Willow and her new minions arrive and capture the crowd. Angel escapes to find Buffy. Anya recognizes what has happened, offers to restore Vampire Willow to her own world in return for help in retrieving her amulet, and suggests capturing the other Willow to assist in the spell. Angel, Buffy and Xander head for the Bronze, but Willow, turning back to get the tranquilizer gun, is captured by her doppelganger. Willow shoots the vampire; the others arrive back in the library. They lock the unconscious vampire in the library cage, and Willow exchanges clothes with her in an attempt to pass herself off as Vamp Willow. They return to the Bronze.
Cordelia arrives at the library and unwittingly releases Vampire Willow, who immediately attacks her, but Wesley intervenes and drives the vampire away. At the Bronze, although Anya exposes Willow's disguise, Buffy defeats the other vampires, then captures the returning doppelganger. Anya returns vampiric Willow to her own timeline, where the alternate Oz immediately kills her. The next day, Percy, thoroughly intimidated by Willow's doppelganger (and believing she was the real Willow), shows up for tutoring with all his work completed and makes it clear he intends to please her from now on.
- Vamp Willow bites and sires a human named Sandy (Megan Gray), who reappears as a vampire in the Season 5 episodes "Family" and "Shadow," when she tries to coax Riley Finn. "Family" was also written and directed by Joss Whedon.
- Despite Buffy's belief that vampires' personalities are different from their human predecessors', Angel has implied that the demons can take over some of their attributes and qualities. Willow commented that her vampire self seemed "kind of gay", which is repeated in the season six episode Tabula Rasa, when the Scooby Gang have lost their memories. Buffy remarked that vampires and their human counterparts were nothing alike, but Angel began to correct this before letting the matter go. This episode foreshadowed Willow's homosexuality in Season Four and onward. Willow, as "Dark Willow," later repeated Vamp Willow's phrase "Bored now" before skinning Warren Mears in 'Villains'.
- Principal Snyder mentions "Last years debacle with the swim team", this is a reference to the Season 2 episode "Go Fish".
- "Dopplegangland" sees two versions of Willow appear on screen together; the Prime Willow and the Vamp Willow. This marks the first story in which two versions of a main character appear simultaneously in an episode. In the Season 5 episode "The Replacement", Xander is split into two versions of himself, one with weak qualities and one with strong. Again in Season 5, this time the eighteenth episode "Intervention", it is Buffy who is duplicated when Spike orders Warren Mears to create the "Buffybot". The character continues to make appearances throughout the rest of Season 5 before being destroyed in the Season 6 opener.
When the episode was originally broadcast in the United States on February 23, 1999, it received a Nielsen rating of 4.1, meaning more than 4 million people watched it. The episode placed 84th out of 121 broadcast television shows for the week it aired. "Doppelgangland" was also the second most-watched program of the week on The WB Television Network.
"Doppelgangland" received high praise from critics. When Noel Murray from The A.V. Club reviewed the episode in 2009, after beginning his first look at the series in 2008, he commented that the episode "is terrific on myriad levels, from the dialogue to the plot twists to the multiple spot-on character moments. But mostly it’s a top-drawer episode for the way it binds the Buffyverse together, by demonstrating how adept the writing staff is at remembering everything they’ve done on the show before, and re-using the elements that still have plenty of juice in them."
Many fans and critics consider the episode to be among the best in the Buffy catalogue. Daily Kos, an American political blog, ranked the episode at number eight in its list of the ten best episodes in the series. Malinda Lo from AfterEllen.com included the episode in her top ten as well. Series creator Joss Whedon has placed "Doppelgangland" fifth in his list of favorite episodes from the show, stating "one Willow is certainly not enough." Alyson Hannigan, who portrays the character Willow, also considers the episode to be one of her favorites in the series. According to TV.com, the episode holds an average score of 9.5/10, based on 658 compiled ratings.
- Murray, Noel (July 3, 2009). "Doppelgangland". The A.V. Club. Retrieved November 23, 2011.
- Kaveney, pp. 19-20.
- "Doppelgängland". BuffyGuide.com. Retrieved December 4, 2011.
- "The 10 Best Buffy The Vampire Episodes". Daily Kos. Retrieved November 23, 2011.
- Lo, Malinda (April 12, 2007). "My Top 10 Buffy Episodes". AfterEllen.com. Retrieved December 4, 2011.
- "Show's creator takes a stab at 10 favorite episodes". USA Today. April 28, 2003. Retrieved November 23, 2011.
- Susman, Gary (October 19, 2005). "Alyson Hannigan's favorite 'Buffy' episodes". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved June 7, 2013.
- "Doppelgangland". TV.com. Retrieved November 23, 2011.
- Kaveney, Roz (ed.) (2004). Reading the Vampire Slayer: The New, Updated, Unofficial Guide to Buffy and Angel, Tauris Parke Paperbacks. ISBN 1-4175-2192-9
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