- Vampire Willow
I have to wonder how the idea for "Doppelgangland" came about. I imagine Joss simply liked some of the ideas in Marti Noxon's script for "The Wish" and decided that he wanted to riff on them in a script of his own. I don't think that any of these ideas needed much development: as I said in my review of that episode, it was not the way in which those ideas developed that disappointed me but rather the way in which they developed to far away from the story about Cordelia which they seemed to be connected to. Here, the ideas are not so much developed as deployed again in a different context. There, it was "what if Buffy never came to Sunnydale," and here it's "What if the Wishverse version of Willow showed up in our world?".
Both of the episodes gain their momentum from the excitement and fun of exploring and extrapolating from that initial "what-if," But in contrast to "The Wish," which began focusing on Cordelia's story and meandered away from that point as it explored, "Doppelgangland" manages to focus squarely on Willow, exploring her role on the show in much the way "The Zeppo" did for Xander. In fact, the episodes follow pretty similar paths, opening with out subject questioning their satisfaction with the role they play in the group, and ending up in the same role but with a newfound understanding and appreciation for it.
But as with "The Zeppo," it's the fun of the journey that really makes this episode worthwhile. Vampire Willow is a fun character and allows Anlyson Hannigan some great comedy opportunities as she plays three characters: real Willow, Vampire Willow, and real Willow pretending to be Vampire Willow (a fantastic scene for her). The return of Anya, who first appeared in "The Wish," affords Emma Caulfield similar opportunities. In that episode, she was barely a presence at all, but in this one she gets to strut her considerable comedic stuff.
I don't think "Doppelgangland" would rank very highly as one of the best episodes of the season--we've had some pretty strong ones recently. But it's certainly a fun diversion and a great exploration of Willow as a character.