Scene 26: While Angelus is performing his ritual, Willow is getting started on hers. Cordelia is once again on stinky herbs. Oz takes the Latin response part that Giles had originally been performing. He reminds Willow that he doesn't know a word of Latin, but Willow is hoping they don't need to know what the words mean, but only sound them out for it to work.
Scene 27: At the manse, Angelus cuts his palm open (Why is it always the palm, when it's a bitch to bandage and get to heal closed?).
Buffy comes from a side entrance without Dullard Vampire noticing and he's promptly beheaded by her. She greets Angelus, returning his earlier greeting to her in the graveyard with a sarcastic, "Hello, Lover".
Angelus is annoyed at her and they exchange banter. He asks her if she really thinks she can take on all three of them alone, and she agrees that she probably can't. Which is Spike's cue to fulfill his "help me when I make my move" agreement. He does this with a fireplace poker to the back of Angelus' head... it's glorious.
He continues to beat up on the fallen Angelus, while Dru glares at him while across the room our recurrent vampire guy launches an attack on Buffy, keeping her occupied. I do believe this is the dude that put Wills into her coma.
Over at Spike, he gets launched on by an enraged Drusilla and they both fly onto the floor.
Back with Buffy, she loses the sword under the blows of vampire minion. She able to beat him away from her though and goes to grab at a convenient pile of smashed table for a stake. Vamp!Minion knows how this plays out and goes to retreat (although to where is a question... the all convenient sewer access, maybe, or just for a weapon of his own) but is stopped by a punch from Xander's cast.
As Buffy returns to the fight, Xan runs to find Giles.
Meanwhile, Drusilla is livid with Spike as he tries to talk her down with how much he doesn't want to hurt her. Her response is to grab him by the throat and push him against the wall. He punches her out, knocking her to the floor.
Scene 28: Meanwhile, in the never-checked hospital room of Willow, they begin the chant/ritual. We get a close-up of the Orb.
Scene 29: Over at Fang Manor, Xander finds Giles still tied to his chair. At first, Giles refuses to be rescued believing that Dru is playing with his head again. He tells Xan that they can get in his head and make him see things he wants. Xander asks why would they make him see him, then?
Giles gives it a moment, and says he's right and asks him to get him out of there.
Commentary: Hilarious! ASH's face when he realizes it doesn't make sense for Xander to be an illusion is SO FRICKING FUNNY.
Scene 30: As Xander is rushing with a worked over Giles for the nearest exit into the safe sunlight, Buffy is still battling the unusually powerful minion vamp. Meanwhile, Drusilla rakes Spike's face with her nails, clearly solidly on Team Angelus. Then it's his turn to get punched out of frame and to the floor, as Angelus sits up with a killer-headache-from-hell.
He gets up to get to Acathla, just as Buffy finally stakes unusually powerful recurring minion.
Scene 31: But DAMN IT it's too late and Angelus is able to withdraw the sword from Acathla.
Buffy scrambles to retrieve her dropped twin sword. Meanwhile over with Spike and Dru, she's momentarily distracted by the psychic impressions of Acathla coming, and this allows Spike to get behind her. He throws an arm around her throat and chokes her out until she's unconscious.
Commentary: Okay, yes, we all know this part is really iffy. Dru can't be choked out. She doesn't need oxygen, so this part was badly done. I'm choosing to believe that Spike is squeezing her neck with vamp!strength and what he's doing is closing off her carotid arteries so that she blacks out from blood stoppage to the brain. Which also has problems, but no more so than any other question about how blood is of any use to them, since they're dead and therefore don't have any circulation which is dependent on a heartbeat. And yet, they bleed. We need to handwave this one vigorously.
Scene 32: Over with Willow, she's struggling to get the words out to Cordy and Oz' worry.
Scene 33: Back at Acathla, Buffy snatches up her sword to face Angelus. Angelus tells her that she almost made it, but too late.
They begin to sword fight... and then their stunt people do... and then they do... and we go back and forth. Buffy gets slashed in the arm. She is managing to hold her own in the sword-fight, but she's got to keep an eye on trying to maneuver Angelus to the statue to stop the portal, so she's at a disadvantage.
Scene 34: Meanwhile, Willow is looking like she's about to pass out before she can complete her end of things. Wills jerks suddenly and starts speaking in foreign language, her face set in determination and looking for all the world like she's been possessed by that old gypsy woman who worked the curse in the first place... and which I choose to believe has happened.
Scene 35: Back at the manor, Buffy loses and is hit to the ground against a wall without her sword and Angelus looks down on her with contemptuous amusement. Meanwhile, behind them, Acathla is getting warmed up for his portal summoning exploit.
Spike finally manages to get Dru out like a light, which seems to have taken a long time. He scoops her up and starts to leave before Angelus can return to give payback for that whole "hitting me over the head with an iron bar" thing. He sees Angelus have Buffy at his mercy and expresses his surprise that he's actually going to finally kill her... before shrugging and being on his way. Obvs, their alliance is over.
Scene 36: In the courtyard, Angelus asks Buffy if she's got anything else. He's waving his sword in her face (not as porny as it sounds -- but I refuse to accept that we weren't supposed to see this as Angelus/Manhood defeating Buffy/Womanhood before her power rally -- Please observe the screen cap below) and telling her that she's lost everything. He's super-smarmy about it. [The whole framing has this icky "Yeah, bitch, you're going to suck it" feel that has to be intentional.]
Buffy closes her eyes in seeming despair and surrender. Angelus goes to shove his sword into her face (Uh-huh). Buffy, awesomely, though wasn't surrendering; She was honing, like we saw her do against Marcie. She senses Angelus' movement and grabs the sword blade between the palms of her hands. To Angelus' question about what she has left, her answer is "Me."
[I cannot imagine that there is anywhere and anytime where this would fail to get a huge, inarticulate cry of glee or a thunderous, "FUCK, YEAH!"]
She shoves the blade back at Angelus, driving the hilt into his face and knocking him away. She follows this up with a kick which gives her the space to retrieve her sword. She starts winning again.
Scene 37: In the meantime, her ex-ally drives off in the car he arrived in Sunnydale in way back in 'School Hard', an out-of-it Dru at his side, though how he thinks this is going to work out after she wakes up is anybody's guess.
Commentary: I love James here. Watch his hands, as he tries to keep track of sunlight coming into the car and shifts his hands around whenever he notices it. I wonder if that was coreographed, or if he was just paying close attention.
Scene 38: In the manor, Buffy has gotten Angelus lined up and disarmed to deal a fatal blow.
Scene 39: Which of course, is why Willow's visitor chooses now to be successful with her spell. The Orb gets its shine on, and Willow slumps back, exhausted. Orb does the vanishing thing.
Scene 40: At the manor, Buffy is about to behead Angelus but his sudden painful gasp stops her [UH- GOOD THING! She knows that beheading him will turn him into dust. Isn't there something about needing him to bleed to close the portal??]
Buffy sees Angel's eyes glow, and there is an immediate and drastic change in his personality as he calls for her with teary-eyes.
The Buffy/Angel love theme starts up in quiet-slow, as Buffy looks down on Angel in disbelief. He acts extra-Angel-y, if confused and her guard goes down, especially when he asks after the cut on her arm with concern.
They embrace with Buffy's look of confusion changing to "Oh, thank god!" as Angel natters about how everything is so muddled in his head. But with all this schmaltz, there is still that Acathla matter. Which Buffy realizes with horror as she hears the big rock rumbling behind Angel's back.
With glowy eyes and opening mouth, she sees the portal forming. She realizes that she can't save Angel. She shushes his concern over what is going on and they extend-kiss. Finally though, she has to tell him to close his eyes.
And then... well, everyone who ever liked BANGEL weeps.
Angel is run through with Buffy's sword, and having drawn blood, the portal closes - but it doesn't close without a going away present. Angel reaches for Buffy in confusion and a plea, but then he's pulled into the hell portal as it closes and Buffy can do nothing but stand there and watch and then collapse in tears.
Commentary: Yep, I'll be an emotional sucker. I love this scene. I love the music. I love the sounds of Acathla in the background. I love that Angel still doesn't know what has happened. I love the look when Buffy first sees Acathla opening his mouth behind Angel and the side glance she makes at his neck, as she realizes that she'll have to kill him still. I love that Darla brought Angel into the world by telling him to close his eyes and Buffy sends him out by telling him to close his eyes. I think the "Close Your Eyes" theme is one of the most beautiful instrumentals I've ever heard and I love how it is used.
And I LOVED the feeling of overwhelming shock, back before I was aware of spoilers and so didn't know anything about S3, that they'd actually killed Angel, even though I also suspected they would.
Scene 41: Buffy's emotional breakdown fades to her walking back to her house.... [with the unfortunate side effect of us seeing the roadblock set up for the location shot].
Scene 42: In the house, Joyce is coming up the stairs when she hears a noise from Buffy's room. It's the breeze, because when she enters, she finds Buffy's closet mostly emptied and a single sheet of paper waiting for her on Buffy's bed. Sarah McLachlan's "State of Grace" is on the soundtrack and will be until close credits.
Joyce reads Buffy's note of, "My day sucked. You sucked. I'm bailing." and sits heavily on her runaway daughter's bed.
Scene 43: At school, the gang have gathered at the front and are piecing together what may have happened, though no one knows where Buffy is currently. Willow says she felt something go through her and thinks the spell worked. Xan pessimistically (and okay, here I'll jump on board with him just being small) suggests that maybe the spell wasn't in time and she had to kill him, wanting to be alone. Willow, ever the optimist, suggests alternately that maybe it did work and she and Angel are spending time together (leaving Xan to look away a bit guiltily at that not telling Buffy to stall thing).
Cordy says that she has to return sooner or later, since school is still going and Willow suggests she'll be there in awhile leaving everyone looking around uselessly for her.
Scene 44: But Buffy is across the street where no one spots her because of her Camouflage Dungerees Of Pain and Horror, which no one would suspect was hidden in her closet. She watches her friends enter the school, before turning away with a travel bag slung over her shoulder.
Scene 45: We see Buffy's reflection from a window with scenery passing by as Buffy's on a bus. She passes the 'Leaving Sunnydale' sign.... And, leaving me wondering WTH, how do we fix this for S3!?!
The Good: I liked that we dealt with some serious aftermath of the library incident: Willow in a coma, Buffy wanted by police, Kendra still killed, Xander in a cast, Joyce flipped out, and of course the neat-o twist of Spike choosing to help Buffy!
I like Whistler in this episode, especially the way he warns Buffy about what she's facing and expressing some doubt that she realizes what it means for her. I also like that Whistler helped Angel BECOME someone, and now he has to help Buffy stop him from BECOMING. It's all so poetic.
Love, love, love Spike trying to get Buffy to team up with him over such a petty reason as Dru likes Angelus. And Buffy's response.
Also, loving the scene in Buffy's house between Joyce and Spike. And the Joyce/Buffy fight is just awesome and SMG does a great line reading, telling her mother off for not asking more questions about what is going on in Sunnydale and her emphasis on having to save the world AGAIN.
I'm really not sure there is anything more adorable than Aly and Seth both trying to out-adorable one another.
That whole scene with Dru as Jenny was wonderful... at being awful... but it was well done and especially well shot.
From scene 33 to the end, this episode is gold.
The Bad: That part where Buffy's secret is revealed by a handy-dandy suicidal vampire was really awkwardly set up and Kristine's acting after seeing the dusting is... well... unconvincing for somebody who has just seen their first vampire disintegrate.
That cutesy baby-voice of Willow's when she was telling Buffy she was fine really annoyed me for some reason. It was just too-too.
Other Thoughts: Where the hell has Dru been throughout most of this episode?? And how could Spike be out chasing down Buffy and coming to a deal for as long as he was without anybody at Chez Vamp seeing his empty wheelchair?
The Score: 4.25 out of 5 stars
(But the last quarter point is for the ending sword fight and resolution alone.)
Next Up: A movie review, I believe... let me check. Oh, right! "The Land Unknown" ... and possibly some 'Best Of / Worst Of' posts.