Willow does not have long to improve the Wards, that “clamp down” upon her Witchcraft, as her magic is soon required to assist Buffy: raising a “force field” (to help keep an “Uber Vampire” at bay), performing locator spells (to find other potential slayers, before The First can eliminate them), reopening a space/time portal (after Buffy jumped through one) and using a crystal/charm (to help a reformed Andrew remember more about The First).
Willow’s Redemption Spell – In balance, with the Goddess
The final test of Willow’s reformed character occurs when Buffy asks Willow to change the “Slayer” spell: so that all potential slayers shall have the same strength as Buffy (and Faith). Willow is initially scared by the request, as she believes the spell could take her beyond Evil Willow: into a total loss of self control. Fortunately, this turns out not to be the case: and after researching the spell, she is able to cast it with the help of Kennedy (a potential slayer), resulting in Willow glowing in white (and thus being equated with a Goddess). After the “Slayer” spell is successfully cast, Willow collapses from exhaustion; but is able to savour the fact that she has helped to defeat The First, and in doing so, has fully redeemed herself.
Willow’s character then returns to a sense of normality, as she reclaims her space in the Scoobie Gang; but with one important difference: any spells she now casts are primarily to assist Buffy (either directly or indirectly). Willow proves her worth to the Scoobie Gang, as they start to battle against “The First”; which unlike anything they have fought before, is actually “the reason that evil exists”.
Willow’s Candle Magic – Helping to locate The First
An early test for Willow’s reformed character occurs when she talks with Cassie (a young lady they helped in the past); only Cassie is now actually dead, and claims to have a message from Tara (who is also dead). Although Willow becomes emotional in the encounter, she also passes the test: being able to directly face the fact that Tara is dead (without going off the rails). Shortly after, Willow realises that she actually encountered The First, which as it turns out, is able to masquerade as anybody that’s dead. Willow’s reformed character then faces another test, when she attempts to locate The First: her spell goes wrong (as The First corrupts it), and Willow ends up channelling the evil energies of The First (even hitting Buffy with a powerful magical blast). Fortunately, Xander is at hand, who destroys a bowl on Willow’s altar (thus breaking Willow’s channelling of The First). As a result of this (and some common sense), Willow realises that she needs to avoid taking on The First directly: she decides to refrain from magic for a while; and concentrate on increasing her level of self control (in case The First attempts to exploit it again).
Willow’s character then has to atone for what she has done. Firstly, she has to change her attitudes (and beliefs) towards magic. Secondly, she has to accept responsibility for the fact that she caused pain to her friends (and enemies). Thirdly, she has to face up to the fact that Tara is dead. Giles is able to help with the first of these: by taking Willow to a coven where she can work towards reconnecting with the “true essence of magic“. This is achieved by helping Willow connect with nature, and in doing so, become closer to “Mother Earth” (and all things good). Willow has a harder time dealing with the second: as she’s worried that the Scoobie Gang won’t want to know her (after what she did to them).
Willow’s Atonement – What if they won’t take me back?
Upon returning to Sunnydale, Willow does not have time to see whether or not she’s fully recovered, as her magic is required straight away: Willow casts her “Demonic Energy” locator spell (with assistance from Anya), involving candles and the scattering of powder on a map, to help her track down a demon (that’s been flaying its victims). The Scoobie Gang initially suspect that Willow may be responsible for the flaying (because that’s what she did to Warren), although Dawn eventually discovers another possibility: a demon. It is only after encountering this demon (and chatting with Anya), that the Scoobie Gang realise that something else is a foot: as Anya can see Willow, but the rest of the Scoobie Gang can’t. It turns out that Willow has not yet fully recovered: she was so afraid of her friends rejecting her, that she managed to subconsciously cast a spell, whereby they were unable to see each other. Once the spell is reversed, an important indication of friendship occurs: Buffy allows Willow to take energy from her, so that Willow may magically heal herself (from the injuries the demon inflicted).
With Willows thoughts being beyond all logic/reason, Willow fights Buffy: eventually rendering Buffy unconscious (by hitting her with some powerful blue lightening). Fate then intervenes – as Giles returns, leading to a magical duel between himself and Willow: he blasts her across the room, he commands her to stay down and he binds her in a stasis field (to prevent her from causing further harm).
Evil Willow – Smiling – With a red Fireball in her Hands
Unfortunately, Evil Willow is too powerful to be defeated so easily: she’s able to use mind control (on Anya) to help free herself from the stasis field. The magical duel then resumes, with Willow eventually defeating Giles and absorbing all his powers (which he borrowed from a coven). In doing so, Willow becomes more powerful, which combined with her emotional state, leads her to conclude that: the whole world is suffering emotional pain (and that it must be stopped). Thus, she decides to destroy the world (even though this goes against everything that Tara stood for). Fortunately, Willow has managed to overlook one emotion: love. And it is love that finally defeats her: when Xander tells her he loves her (as a friend).
After casting a spell to track down Tara’s killer (Warren), Willow goes after him, making use of various magic’s along the way: power to recover from an axe in her back, power to turn an explosion into “nothing”, power to control vines (that hold Warren) and power to destroy Warren (by both flaying and burning him).
Evil Willow – With Black Eyes – Out for Revenge
The scoobie gang now realise that Willow has gone too far, and it falls to Buffy to track her down (and attempt to reason with her). Unfortunately, Willow’s emotions (grief/fury/rage) still have control of her, which together with her addiction to magic, have helped to give her an altered sense of reality (including the ability to harm her friends). Having cast a “Strengthen” spell upon herself, Willow intends to beat Andrew and Jonathan to death; and is only stopped when Buffy intervenes.
To help exact her revenge, Willow decides she needs more power, and as such, heads straight for the local magic shop. Upon entering, it is obvious that Willow is not herself: her mere presence being enough to shatter several electrical lights; on her way to the shelves containing the “black arts books“.
Evil Willow – Rede like never before!
Willow then demonstrates a new approach to learning: when she proceeds to absorb their text (by “sucking” it out of the books and into herself). Although Willow has lost control of her emotions (running on pure grief/fury/rage), she has not yet lost her ability to help others: as she saves Buffy’s life by magically removing a bullet that would have killed her (as Warren initially shot Buffy). Despite this, Buffy refuses to help Willow destroy those responsible for Tara’s death (as the scoobie gang does not kill humans). This refusal is enough to serve as the final catalyst for Willows emotions: as she casts aside “old reliable/nerdy” Willow and becomes “Evil Willow” (with black eyes and dark veins across her face).
Willows character then goes further off the rails: when Tara is shot (and dies), causing Willows “cold turkey” to come to an abrupt end. As such, Willow hits the dark magic’s again, and attempts to bring Tara back (even though Tara had earlier said that “magic can’t be used to alter the natural order of things”).
Evil Willow – With Red Eyes – Starting to “go off” the rails
This is proven to be so, as Willows magic is prevented from working: Tara died a human death (through human causes), and everything is as it “should be”. Having lost control of her emotions, Willow decides to seek revenge on the humans she holds responsible for Tara’s death: Andrew, Jonathan and Warren (all old school acquaintances – that just so happen to have been running a “crime gang” together).