The Willow Files, Vol. 1
Author: Yvonne Navarro
The Willow Files Vol. 1 continue the series of early novelizations based on the Buffy the Vampire Slayer tv series. Each one picks out three episodes where the title character is prominently figured, then add a few framing devices before, between and after the episode novelizations. Willow was never one of my favorite members of the Scooby gang, so it’s not a huge shock that this wasn’t one of the better books in the series.
The three episodes revisited here are “I, Robot… You, Jane,” “Phases,” and “Dead Man’s Party.” Like most of the episodes of the first season, “I Robot… You Jane” (Season 1, Episode 8) is not very good. Willow falls for a guy online who ends up being a Demon that has been trapped in the internet after one of Giles books was scanned at the library. More than any other episode in the series, this one feels really dated, especially when the characters are discussing sending “e-letters” to each other. It was also part of a run of episodes where one of the main supporting characters fell for a demon, none of them standing out from each other.
The best episode for this book was “Phases,” (Season 2, Episode 15) which made sense for a Willow centered story unless Oz was also getting his own book. Here, Willow’s trying to figure out why Oz hasn’t made a move on her while Oz is trying to figure out if he’s a werewolf. Season 2 is one of the high points in the series, as all of the supporting characters were getting story arcs much more independent of Buffy. While the twist in this episode was pretty easy to see coming, it featured a great Angel villain moment that more than made up for it.
The last episode of the book is “Dead Man’s Party” (Season 3, Episode 2) which is a very good episode of the show but doesn’t particularly fit in as a Willow story. Taking place immediately after Buffy returns from a summer long absence, everybody but Buffy is hold some resentment at the slayer for leaving Sunnydale. Willow gets a little moment at the end reaffirming her place as Buffy’s best friend, but otherwise this is very much a Buffy-centered story.
One of the problems these books can face is when they jump around so much in the series is that so much happens in between episodes that there’s no real way to summarize it in two pages of filler between episodes. The jump from the middle of season one to the beginning of season three pretty much overlooks Angel’s whole character arc in the Willow Files interludes. These are done as journal entries in a type writer like font where Willow writes in the first person about keeping a journal again. The whole device doesn’t work because of how much is skipped over or not mentioned, although the episodes themselves do feature some nice call backs to each other over the course of the book.
I’m looking forward to reading the second installment of Willow as each of the episodes comes from the 3rd season, so they’ll hopefully fit together better as one read.