Original airdate: May 4, 1999
Project 310 re-watch date: Feb. 12, 2009
There’s very little to like about Wesley in his early appearances on “Buffy” -- he’s even more pompous than Giles was in Season 1 and he generally disagrees with every one of the gang’s plans.
But in this episode -- when Buffy and the Scoobies steal the Box of Gavrok from the Mayor but have to trade it back to him in exchange for a kidnapped Willow -- he’s actually the only one who’s right.
This choice, Wesley’s choice to sacrifice Willow in exchange for saving the town, is what sets up the character for the rest of his run on “Angel”. Wesley always makes the choice for the greater good, no matter the consequences (think to when he gives up Connor because he thinks Angel’s going to eat him).
Wesley makes a point of being an ass to Buffy about the whole situation after they’ve made the trade, which is also a tendency he doesn’t lose. He really likes to get the last word in edgewise.
The writing staff of Buffy, under the direction of Joss Whedon, often laid groundwork years in advance for things like this. There were hints of the Jasmine storyline on “Angel” starting in Year 2 of “Buffy”. Dawn was hinted at nearly two years in advance. Hell, Faith ends up foreshadowing Buffy’s own death (there’s even another one in this episode -- Willow talks about matriculating with the Class of 2003. Sure, she means UC Sunnydale, but that’s also when the show ended).
The other big picture thing to take away from this episode is The Mayor’s speech to Buffy and Angel about their relationship. It’s the most on-point description of why Buffy and Angel can never be, and it comes from one of the most purely evil characters on the show.
Everything he says about Buffy and Angel is true, and it leads to the next episode, where they finally realize they can never be happy together.
Favorite Quote:The Mayor (to Angel): “She's a blossoming young girl and you want to keep her from the life she should have until it has passed her by. My God! I think that's a little selfish. Is that what you came back from Hell for? Is that your greater purpose?”