We’re nearing the end of Season 3 and I think this is where the show really hit its stride. Season 2 was awesome, but somewhere in Season 3, Whedon had to settle on what the show could be going forward, and it’s at this moment where Angel starts and the characters begin to blossom into their adult selves that we see the show become more than just a joke about the cheerleader who saves the world by night and then gets detention because she missed class.
Anya has begun her pursuit of Xander. Buffy quit answering to the Council. Giles is content to serve as advisor. Willow is coming into her powers (which of course doesn’t completely happen until Oz leaves) Oz is beginning to reveal himself to the others. And Buffy is facing the idea of life post-Angel.
I think spinning off Angel was wise. There was nowhere to go with the relationship, and Buffy is stronger as a character who can’t find an equal partner and must constantly face the draw of romance while understanding the necessity of protecting her secret. This was a bit tedious in a 17-year-old, but works much better as she begins college. Killing Angel off would have been hard to believe and would have limited the possibilities–there are some great crossover episodes when he comes back to Sunnydale to help out the gang. And of course there were fans who enjoyed following Angel’s story in LA. But in terms of Buffy’s story, it adds depth to her character without true grief.
As for my Kid, she’s a bit baffled by Angel’s decision to leave. We’ll see what happens as the story moves forward. I think she’ll really enjoy Willow’s growing depth and strength, and of course the Xander/Anya romance has a lot of comedy in it. I think Anya might become a favorite. We’ll see. I haven’t read the Buffy comic I bought yet. I kind of want to refresh myself on Seasons 6 and 7 before I dive into Season 8. Right now, I’m looking forward to finding out how Season 3 ended.