EW Community TV Show Episode Guides and Recaps from EW's Community

'Buffy' react: How 'Choices' was kind of a backdoor pilot for 'Angel'

Season 3 | Episode 19 | “Choices” | Aired May 4, 1999

In “Choices,” Buffy and the Scooby Gang try to thwart the Mayor’s Ascension by stealing the Box of Gavrok, which contains something essential to his plan. They succeed, but Faith and the Mayor steal something, too: Willow. Of course, they eventually get her back, cracking and negotiating with terrorists (or Sunnydale’s supernatural equivalents) in the process, but the experience doesn’t scare Willow away.

It just makes her sure that, even though she got into pretty much ever college on the planet (include Oxford, Harvard, MIT, and Yale), what she wants to do with her life is stay in Sunnydale and fight evil. That’s one of the big choices the title is referring to (Buffy gets into Northwestern, but also chooses to stay in Sunnydale to be close to the Hellmouth and on-call for slaying duty).

Other choices made in the episode include Faith choosing to firmly align with the Mayor, the Mayor choosing to go all-in with Faith and show his fatherly affection for her, Xander choosing to travel the U.S. after graduation in lieu of attending college, and Oz choosing to express a rare bit of emotion when Wesley suggests they shouldn’t sacrifice the box to save Willow. Those are all big, public choices. They’re all articulated and clear. But the great thing about a rewatch is that, knowing what comes next, it’s clear that there are three choices that are made quietly in this episode, and those choices might be the biggest of all.

After the third season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Cordelia, and Wesley all left Sunnydale for the bright lights and high crime of Los Angeles for the spin-off Angel. Looking back, “Choices” is the episode when they all decided to leave, whether they realized it or not. Angel never got a true backdoor pilot. No one from the gang ever took a trip to L.A., only to come back and say it needed a hero, and Angel was that hero. But “Choices” was the closest thing we got, in retrospect. Here are the choices the big three of the spin-off made:


Angel’s decision to leave Sunnydale has been a long time coming by this point. When he finally leaves after the events of Graduation Day, it feels both abrupt and overdue. Angel was sent to hell at the end of season 2, to close up the portal he opened in his most evil moment. When he comes back, it’s not clear why he was granted a second chance, but it’s clear he needs to make the most of it and try to make amends for all the wrong he’s done. He can do that fighting by Buffy’s side, to an extent, but he’ll always be distracted with her around — and tempted to get his happy on and risk becoming Angelus again.

Funnily enough, it’s the Mayor who really convinces Angel to leave. He lays out the reasons for it clearly, giving the big speech so Angel never has to:

You’re immortal. She’s not. It’s not easy. I married my Edna Mae in aught-three, and I was with her right until the end. Not a pretty picture. Wrinkled and senile and cursing me for my youth, it wasn’t our happiest time. And let’s forget the fact that any moment of true happiness will turn you evil … I mean, come on. What kind of a life can you offer her? I don’t see a lot of Sunday picnics in the offing. I see skulking in the shadows, hiding from the sun. She’s a blossoming young girl and you want to keep her from the life she should have till it’s passed her by. And by God, I think that’s a little selfish. Is that what you came back from hell for? Is that your greater purpose?

Yeah, that pretty much sums it up. You can practically see Angel deciding to leave.


She hasn’t told anyone in the Scooby Gang yet, but the Chase family has lost its fortune. Cordy is reduced to working part-time in a dress store to pay for her prom dress, and college is out of the picture (even though she got into an impressive list of schools, including Columbia). Having to actually think and worry about her future for the first time, well, ever, Cordelia decides to move to L.A. and pursue a career in modeling, acting, and generally being a beautiful person.


Wesley Wyndham-Pryce is the nerdiest, most Council-y Watcher the Buffyverse has ever seen. He follows the rules. He plays by the book. He does the research, and he expects the respect that his position with the Council and his immense body of knowledge deserves.

And yet to the Scooby Gang, he’s just an annoying nerd who doesn’t get it. They defer to Giles. They meet without him. They ignore his direct orders. Buffy hasn’t officially quit the Council at this point, but Wesley has lost all control over her (if he ever had any to begin with). Faith also went off the rails under his supervision. He’s a teacher’s pet who’s failing at his best subject for the first time in his life. Even though Buffy & Co. have been picking and choosing when to follow his advice since day one, he can’t handle the disobedience in giving the Box of Gavrok back to the Mayor. The Council’s rules and Wesley’s own moral philosophy say that the right move was to let Willow die at the hands of Faith and the Mayor—and destroy the box, thereby stopping the Ascension.

Realizing that he failed not only to control his Slayer, but to convince her to make a sacrifice that he believed was necessary to save the world, Wesley’s mental wheels start turning. He pictures a post-Sunnydale, post-Council life—as a Rogue Demon Hunter.

And that’s how it totally makes sense that an unlikely group of supporting players ended up in L.A., at Angel Investigations.

TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

You May Like