The Willow Files: Book 2
Author: Yvonne Navarro
The third season of Buffy is one of the best of the show. A big part of that was the introduction of Faith as another slayer and the charismatic Mayor as the big bad of the season. Despite being one of the best seasons of the show, it’s probably not the best for novelization formats as the episodes were very great in a serialized format, but less so as stand-alone adventures. Trying to shoehorn the three episode recap with mini-passages linking them would be a struggle on its own for that season, but making it one supporting character focused also doesn’t work particularly well, unless that character is possibly Faith (we’ll see, I’ve got a book focused on her coming up).
The Willow Files: Book 2 begins with the episode “Gingerbread” (season 3, episode 11), before moving on to “Dopplegangland” (season 3, episode 16) and ending with “Choices” (season 3, episode 19). One advantage to this set is that the episodes are fairly close together, so the passages in between the episodes don’t need to cover a whole lot to catch up readers to the next story. However, the three stories together don’t fit any sort of character arc together or have any real resolution at the end.
“Gingerbread” is one of the only Joyce centered episodes in the series. As she tries to keep Buffy company while Buffy is patrolling, they come across a playground where two young children have appeared to been murdered. Joyce ends up becoming a vocal leader in the community seeking change, holding both the establishment and the purveyors of the occult accountable. It’s a pretty good episode that even has lasting repercussions for the whole series (certainly for Amy), but as a showcase for Willow it’s pretty limited. We get a little involvement with her mom, and her being imperiled at the end she’s not a central character.
“Dopplegangland” is a throwback to wrap up/call back to what worked from episode 9 of the same season, “The Wish.” With that episode not included in this book, it’s a bit odd to include it here. The plot is that while Anya is trying to use a spell to regain her source of demonic power, the and Willow accidentally bring vampire Willow out of the alternate universe of that other episode. (Just typing that last sentence illustrates why these two episodes should be together.) This is probably the most Willow-centric episode in the book, and also features some Easter eggs about Willow’s later character arc/relationships.
“Choices” is very much one of a string of episodes where Faith and the Mayor are getting ready for the big showdown in the season finale, and as a stand alone episode it’s odd to read and even more so as a Willow focused story. Here Faith and the mayor are expecting a package that will aid him in ascending to his ultimate demonic form, and the Scooby gang take the fight to him by stealing his box. In the process Willow is captured by Faith, and the gang must decide whether or not to trade the box back for Willow. Willow’s role is pretty brief, basically staking one vamp and reading a book, with most of the real drama coming in a scene where Wesley is arguing with the rest of the gang to not give back the box and risk the rest of the city.
The combination of lack of an amazing episode and the odd grouping of episodes to be included made this one of the less interesting character focused novelizations. Just Giles, Faith and Cordelia left to go and then I’m onto the original story novelizations.