Season 1, Episode 3 - “Witch”
Original airdate: March 17, 1997
Project 310 re-watch date: Dec. 24, 2008
First off, before I get to anything else, I need to mention that I’d always called this episode “THE Witch”. It’s actually just called “Witch”. Both my DVD and epguides.com confirms that.
Not knowing the actual title aside, I really like this episode. It's among the better ones in this season, and has plenty of little things to like about it.
For example, Cordelia's line about the Laker Girls is funny, since Charisma Carpenter used to be a professional cheerleader (San Diego Chargers) herself. These are the kind of things the writers of "Buffy" -- for this specific episode, it was Dana Reston -- took advantage of. Also, this wasn't something the writers could have anticipated, but it's a kind of cool coincidence that Cordelia went blind in this episode and Charisma Carpenter went on to be The Seer on "Charmed".
The scene in the library right after the opening credits has some of the most quotable lines from the entire season. Both Giles's speech about the Hellmouth and Xander's "I laugh in the face of danger" are mainstays in my iChat status updates (yes, the vast majority of my iChat available and away messages are quotes/speeches/dialogue from "Buffy").
For those that don't know the plot of the episode, basically former Sunnydale cheerleader Catherine Madison switches bodies with her daughter Amy so she can relive her cheerleading glory days. Then Catherine (in Amy's body) continues using magic to knock off her competition for the squad, including Buffy.
I do feel the need to say this: the character of Amy Madison is among the most frustrating in the entire run of the series -- and in her case, I'm including the canonical Season 8 comic. This episode is her first appearance, and really she's the victim of some bad magic. You can see it in her eyes when she's stuck in Catherine's body.
Knowing everything that Catherine put Amy through, why would Amy turn to black magic herself in season 2 (and more seriously in seasons 3, 6, 7 and 8)? It just makes no sense. You can kind of excuse how she ended up in seasons 2 and 3, but seasons 6, 7 and 8 Amy were just absurd. Part of me wonders if Evil Amy has ever considered releasing her mother from the cheerleading statue and teaming up with her (maybe that’s something for the comic to explore -- though the statue was probably destroyed when the Mayor destroyed the school in season 3. Hmm, now I wonder what happened to Catherine when that happened).
Also, I really don't like Season 1 Joyce. I'd say she hits a real low point in this episode, but I want to reserve judgement until I finish the season. She's really very anti-Buffy here -- which is so different from how she becomes late in season 3 and beyond.
I do love how Joyce basically blows off Buffy's comment about "being a vampire slayer" (after Buffy has been affected by one of Amy's spells). It's very much a pre-Slayer-knowing Joyce thing to do. She just ignores the evidence in front of her and goes on with her life.
Next episode: Teacher’s Pet (originally aired 3/25/1997)