Season 3, Episode 5 - “Homecoming”
Original airdate: November 3, 1998
Project 310 re-watch date: Jan. 29, 2009
Holy hell is this episode funny. The comedy of Buffy vs Cordelia and Xander/Willow is so good that it actually overshadows the SlayerFest ’98 plotline for the first half of the episode.
I liked seeing Buffy try to do something “normal”, given how distracted she’d been lately by Angel’s mysterious return. Her run for homecoming queen was pretty cool, and also established that Buffy was well-known enough at Sunnydale High to earn the class protector award she got at the end of the season.
As for the Xander/Willow relationship escalation, this had been building for awhile. Remember, Willow had always had a crush on Xander, and Xander was pretty jealous of Oz when he first started dating Willow. They were best friends who were bound to end up taking it to another level at some point.
SlayerFest ’98 -- Mr. Trick’s latest plan to kill Buffy and Faith -- is extra lame. We get a handful of stupid villains, including the return of the surviving Gorch brother. The only thing it serves to do (aside from put Cordelia in mortal danger again) is put Mr. Trick on the Mayor’s radar.
As for The Mayor, we finally see him, after he’d been mentioned by title a few times earlier. He doesn’t seem imposing at all, which is kind of his appeal. He’s not like The Master or Spike or Dru. He’s actually, God forbid, nice. When we first see him in the episode, the only thing that indicates he might be a bad guy is the fact that he doesn’t freak out upon finding out there are terrorists in his town. It’s not until his meeting later with Mr. Trick that things start to not add up (if that makes sense).