Buffy is lying low by settling for a lonely life in L.A. However, her old life comes back when someone from her past comes to her in need of help.
Meanwhile, the Scoobies take on slaying duties, as Joyce continues to come to grips with the secret life her daughter kept from her.
Songs: Bellylove -- Back to Freedom
Buffy's return fills everyone with joy, yet all go out of their to keep their emotional distance from her. The tension comes to a head when they throw a party for her that soon gets crashed by the undead.
Songs: Four Star Mary -- Never Mind, Four Star Mary -- Pain, Four Star Mary -- Sway
Just as Buffy's life begins to fall back into normalcy, she is overshadowed by a new Slayer by the name of Faith who easily wins everyone over. However, Faith is sheltering a dark secret that has followed her to Sunnydale.
When a mutilated body is discovered, everyone fears that Oz, having transformed into a wolf the night of the attack, may have escaped and committed the act. Buffy, however, has greater concerns when she discovers that Angel has returned, but is left in a feral state.
Fearing that she won't be remembered at Sunnydale High, Buffy engages Cordelia in a battle for homecoming queen. Little does she know that Mr. Trick has gathered an assortment of rogues to compete in a contest to kill both Slayers. Meanwhile, Xander and Willow hide from everyone that they've discovered their feelings for each another.
Lori Carson -- Fell Into the Loneliness, Fastball
-- Fire Escape, Lisa Loeb
-- How, The Pinehurst Kids -- Jodie Foster, Four Star Mary -- She Knows
Feeling as though she's being treated like a child by her mother and watcher, Buffy finds the tide of maturity turned when all the adults begin acting out as teenagers. Little does anyone suspect that the whole thing is to mask a much more sinister plot involving the Mayor and a familiar enemy.
Mad Cow -- Blas, Every Bit Of Nothing -- Slip Jimmy, Cream
-- Tales of Brave Ulysses, Four Star Mary -- Violent
The Council sends a new Watcher for Faith, a woman by the name of Gwendolyn Post who warns of a powerful weapon that is being sought in Sunnydale. Things get worse when everyone else finds out that Angel is back and that Buffy has been hiding him.
Songs: Four Star Mary -- Run, Lolly -- Silver Dollar, Lotion -- West of Here
Spike is back in Sunnydale, this time drunk and heartbroken. Bitter that Dru has left due to the truce he made with Buffy, Spike seeks out payback. While Xander and Willow are still being torn apart by their feelings, Spike kidnaps them so Willow can perform a love spell for him.
Cordelia tries to bounce back from her relationship with Xander, but is welcomed only with humiliation. She soon realises that it is actually Buffy who is the source of her problems. When Cordelia makes an offhand wish, she finds out how dramatically different Sunnydale would be had Buffy never came.
Songs: Plastic -- Dedicated to Pain, Gingersol -- Never Noticed, The Spies -- Tired of Being Alone
As Christmas approaches, Angel is haunted by the spirits of those he slaughtered while a soulless monster. An entity known as the First Evil is tormenting Angel so that he'll surrender to his bestial nature.
Meanwhile, Willow tries to repair her relationship with Oz.
Songs: Barry White
-- Can't Get Enough of Your Love, Babe
Joyce is horrified when she discovers the bodies of a couple of children in the park. With markings of magic practice at the scene, Joyce rallies the adults in Sunnydale to go on a literal witch-hunt, which includes Buffy.
As Buffy prepares to turn 18, she finds herself drained of her Slayer powers. What she doesn't know is that she is being set up for a dangerous test by the Watchers Council, as administered to the few Slayers who reach such an age. To make matters worse, the Council insists on going through with the test despite the circumstances having gotten out of control.
The Scoobies gear up to stop another apocalypse, but fear that Xander will only wind up getting himself hurt. While being sent out of harm's way, Xander tries to find his rightful place by setting out on a quest to obtain his coolness. Little does he know that it will lead him on a very harrowing adventure and a lesser danger only he can stop.
Wesley Wyndam-Pryce arrives to take over as Watcher for Buffy and Faith just as a vampire sect surface looking for an amulet to restore power to their demon leader. The two Slayers blow off the stuffier and much more bossy Watcher to spend quality slaying time together where Faith's bad behaviour begins to rub off on Buffy.
Songs: Curve -- Chinese Burn
The discovery of Finch's body further presses guilt onto Buffy while Faith continues to show no remorse. Having discovered her crime, the gang tries to figure out the best way to help her, but any attempt maybe sabotaged and risk sending her over the line.
When Anya attempts to retrieve her lost powers, she inadvertently pulls the Willow from the alternate universe created by Cordelia's wish. As the real Willow feels everyone sees her as routine and reliable, her vampiric doppelgänger attempts to make Sunnydale the way she knew it, starting with the Bronze.
Songs: Spectator Pump -- Priced 2 Move, K's Choice -- Virgin State of Mind
Buffy and Faith are approached by a demon on the Books of Ascension, which would be very useful to the Mayor. As everyone tries to figure out what these books mean to the Mayor, he and Faith try to win over a powerful ally: Angelus.
Following a battle with a demon, Buffy develops the power of telepathy. At first excited, Buffy is soon overwhelmed with everyone's thoughts swimming in her head with no way to filter any out. Struggling to maintain sanity, she is also plagued with the knowledge that someone is planning on committing mass murder at school.
With Graduation Day on the horizon, Buffy's college admissions give her the opportunity to leave Sunnydale. However, the Mayor's Ascension is also looming. To free herself, Buffy decides to make a preemptive move and steal a valuable piece for his Ascension. Unfortunately, Willow is caught and the Scoobies have to make the choice between stopping the Mayor now or getting her back.
Buffy's anticipation for the prom is overshadowed when Angel breaks up with her. She works through her heartache by trying to stop a student from unleashing hellhounds at the prom.
Kool & The Gang -- Celebration, The Lassie Foundation -- El Rey, Fatboy Slim
-- Praise You, Cracker
-- The Good Life, The Sundays -- Wild Horses
With the Ascension just around the corner, the Mayor works to close up any loose ends, including poisoning Angel to distract Buffy. The only cure leads Buffy to an inevitable face-off with Faith.
Songs: Spectator Pump -- Sunday Mail
With Angel cured and Faith in the hospital, everyone plans for the upcoming battle. As the Mayor prepares for the events that will ensue his Ascension, the Scoobies try to use the clues they have to figure out a way to stop the Mayor in demon form.