harsens_rob (harsens_rob) wrote,
harsens_rob
harsens_rob

'Angel' episode review....




Buffy Episode Review

"Angel"

Season 1, Episode 7


Blurb: A moment of passion turns to terror as Buffy discovers Angel's true identity and learns about the Gypsy curse that has haunted him for almost 100 years.


Scene 01: We start with the Annointed One taking stones from The Master's hand and throwing them into the pool of blood that The Master arose from in 'Welcome to the Hellmouth'.

Darla comes down into the danky-swanky drainage cave of The Master and he tosses out to her that one of his 'flock' hasn't returned from the nightly hunt. She tells him that it was the Slayer. The Master is growing weary of Buffy's culling of his family. He asks the Annointed what he should do - he offers that she should be annihilated.

That warms the cockles of The Master's unbeating heart. Darla offers to kill her for him - but he points out that she has a personal interest in all this. He chooses to send out 'The Three' to deal with the Slayer, instead.

Commentary:(
I'm not sure why it is relevent whether Darla's interest is personal. Doesn't the Slayer vs. Vampire all boil down to being personal? If you're deliberately targeting someone, doesn't that by default, make it personal - whether it is Buffy targeting the vampires, or The Master targeting her? His explanation sounds a bit lame - (future me) In retrospect, you could see this as The Master wanting to shield Darla in his own way. He looks upon her with favor and the Slayer has proven with overcoming Luke that she isn't to be trifled with. When you reach the end of the episode, he quite blatantly says that Darla wasn't just any hench-vampire to him. And also, don't get excited about the prospect of The Three - they last about as long as the bad-ass Fork-hand in "Teacher's Pet" (end future me).

Scene 02: We cut to the close up of a cigarette. (future me again:) We aren't aware of the convention yet, but 'smoking = evil' (end future me).

The smokes belong to some 'tough crowd' day-players - 'cause smoking equals 'tough', too. They see The Three stalking toward them all bad-assery leather(TM) and quickly skitter away.

Scene 03: Cut to a roach scuttling across a floor. A girl grabs up the big bug and turns it into the bartender for a free drink.

At a table, Willow lets Buffy know that the 'Pre Fumigation Party' is an annual tradition at the Bronze. Buffy seems distracted. Buffy is feeling a distinct lack of guy-ness in her life at the moment.

(future me) One of the 'arcs' that Buffy goes through over the next several seasons, is finding a way to be alright with Buffy - alone - of course this ends up also forcing her to contend with her isolation. Sometimes her being seperate is a consequence of her duty (Owen), but other times it will be because she cuts herself off emotionally as a consequence of Slaying (Riley). Right now, she's just being teen-agey and wanting a boyfriend. (end future me - again)

When Willow suggests possible dateage with Angel, she scoffs. He tends to pop up only to share bad news about danger and than vanishes again until the next big threat comes up. It's sort of difficult to talk 'dates' when the other one in question doesn't hang around long enough to talk to.

Willow compares Buffy's 'the lights seem to dim everywhere else when Angel is standing in front of her' to her feelings for Xander, her best friend. In the meanwhile, Xan is on the dance floor, uh, having some sort of spastic fit which may be an attempt to dance. He's basically trying to fit in with the crowd on the floor, but you know, he's one of Sunnydale's outcasts and ergo is practically beating those nearby with his geeky moves.

He backs up, doing this awful, bizarre hand-swaying-thumbs-up thing and backs right into Cordelia Chase, whose foot he steps on.

Commentary: I'll try to capture the geek-ness of the moment, but the Bronze is pretty minimally lit - so it may not come out well.



Naturally, Cordelia has a few choice words for him, inviting him off of the dance floor before he gets hurt by somebody. He insults her clothes as 'hooker-wear'.

He joins Buffy and Willow at their table, complaining about Cordelia being a breath of vile air. Buffy admits she just isn't in the mood for fun and chooses to call it a night, leaving a very disappointed Xander behind.

Scene 04: Buffy wanders through the crowd when she hesitates, as if she senses something. We see Angel watching her in a 'not-creepy-stalker-way-at-all, really!' way. But when she spins around and looks where he was just standing, he isn't there anymore.

There is a girl with a really bright, rainbow-colored striped top, though. It adds a nice bit of color to an underlit scene that desperately needs some color.

Scene 05: Buffy is outside, on her way home through a desolately quiet street (which we will find is common in Sunnydale, despite and contradictorily that there is always victims seemingly wandering all of these desolately quiet streets to be victims). By the way, police sirens are in the background and there is a LOT of traffic noises - it's almost like they're in L.A. instead of little burg, Sunnydale!

Anyway, Buffy senses something again and looks behind her. I believe she thinks it's Angel because she says that she's tired and doesn't want to play games. She orders her stalker to show himself. We see somebody drop into view from above with a 'vampire-growl'.

Buffy pulls out a stake and spins (okay, maybe she didn't think it was Angel) but the bad-guy easily grabs her arm. She is very quickly surrounded by The Three.

She's wrestled (a little too easily - her fighting abilities seem to wax and wane depending on the scene - er, uh, - depending on her emotional states?) against a fence and appears to be outclassed and vulnerable.

Insert Kick-ass Theme and Credits

Scene 06: Buffy is just about to be bitten in the throat (again, way too easily) when Angel appears to save her from her sudden inability to knee a vampire standing in front of her.

Buffy has a great move here where she uses the guys holding her as leverage to kick up both feet off the ground and into their faces. There is a short donnybrook, but Angel gets hit in the side with an iron bar - Buffy calls for a retreat.

Scene 07: Her and Angel run as best they can with his injury (future me: this is not only a bit pathetic in context, but when we see how much punishment Angel can take and keep fighting in future, you really have to wonder why he's being all helpless here... end future me).

The Three follow close on their heels - but Buffy manages to - WAIT A MINUTE! Buffy manages to make it to her house.... Her and Angel get inside and close the vampires out.



Commentary: I have two problems with this scene. First is the obvious one- a vampire is able to get his hand through the door and grab at Buffy before she can slam it shut on his wrist and force him to withdraw. As we know from future episodes - a vampire cannot enter a home without an invite and as we'll see in future with Angelus, Dru and Spike - they can't even reach a hand over the threshold of a doorway without one.

Let's deal with Angel's running into Buffy's house first: This isn't a continuity issue. Her dialog is, "Get in! C'mon on!" which would be an indirect invite to overcome his mystic limitation.

Now, The Three's Hand of Continuity Disruption: Although this is a problem of writing and not being clear about the rules when the episode was written of course, in continuity I can accept and explain this: The Three are special particularly because they are not fully bound by the laws - probably through magic or some sort of ritualized meditation. They can't ignore the 'no invite, no entry' rule or they would have knocked the door off its hinges and entered, but they can resist some aspects of them. How much of their past successes have been through shocking their victims by reaching through doors and windows and dragging their prey outside to finish them off?

Here's my biggest problem though, and it's Buffy's: I don't care how tough The Three are supposed to be (and again, they suffer Fork-guy Syndrome - spoken up into a major threat that they just never represent on screen). I don't see Buffy forgetting the danger to her mother - who doesn't know the score and comes home every night in the dark unprepared from the gallery - for an instant. I don't accept that she would lead The Three right to her front porch under any circumstances. I could see her telling Angel to run to her house, while she heroically turns and faces their pursuers. I see her doing this even if she feels like she is outmatched. I don't see - even this early in her history - putting her mother in direct danger by showing these 'super tough' vampires where she lives....

I also have a problem with The Three simply leaving, before dawn approaches, just because they can safely assume Buffy is in for the night. What else is there for them to do? Return to The Master and say 'oops - our one and only try failed, whelp nothing we can do now'? It's nonsensical.

Scene 08: With The Three foiled, Angel tells Buffy that they can't enter without an invitation. She tells him she knows, but she's never put it to the test before. Looking over him, she tells him that he needs to remove his jacket and shirt (which he seems to have to do a lot in S2 & S3) while she grabs the bandages.

There is some sexually charged chemistry going on between Angel and Buffy as she interrogates him playfully about how he happened to be nearby when she ran into trouble and he admits he may like her a bit. In the meanwhile we get to see David's broad back with Angel's elaborate tattoo that we'll see a lot of in future. She patches up the gash in his side when she hears Joyce coming in at the front door.

She rushes her inside the house.

Commentary: I.E. The Three just shrugged and gave up. Not very dedicated warrior of them, is it? Do they not believe in observation and keeping the pressure on by in effect, sieging the house of their target? Apparently.

Buffy tries to rush her mom upstairs, making Joyce immediately suspicious that she's done something she's trying to hide.

Angel comes into the room. He's re-dressed, his jacket hiding his bloody T-Shirt. Buffy introduces him as a tutor from the local community college who is helping her as a study buddy. Joyce points out it is a bit late for tutoring. She goes upstairs to bed, making it clear she expects Angel to be escorted out for the night.

Commentary: I like Joyce here, because you can see she isn't totally buying Buffy's 'tutoring in history' story (though ironically, Angel would be able to tutor her in history), but she doesn't go out of her way to embarass her daughter. She finds the situation amusing, but she also wants to make it clear that there are rules in the house about boys. I just like the vibe Christine gives off in this scene with Sarah.

Scene 09: Buffy is standing at the front door, wishing Angel a good night nice and loudly. When she shuts the front door, he's still standing in the entryway to the dining room. She sneaks him up to her bedroom.

There is some uncomfortable sexual tension for Buffy as she realizes that Angel can't leave with the 'fang gang' somewhere out there, but they're in her bedroom and looking at him staying over the night. He offers to take the floor.

Buffy tells him that being the Slayer, it's her job to fight things like The Three, but she doesn't understand why he's doing it. We find out here that Angel's family was killed by vampires (which we'll learn much more disturbing and awful things about later). Naturally the sympathy of Buffy only increases the tension between the two.

They uncomfortably settle down for the night, Buffy in bed, Angel right next to her on the floor. She good naturedly asks if he snores and he replies that it has been a long while since someone could tell him either way.

Scene 10: The next morning in the library, Xander is appalled by this latest development, while Willow is all googly with the romance of it all. Xander tries to convince Buffy that his being slashed in the ribs and nearly killed saving her life is just a lame seduction trick. He points out his own history of trying to impress the girls with his gatorade chugging skills. Willow admits it impressed her, though later there was an ick factor.

Giles drolly insists that the 'riveting conversation' be brought back to the vampire attack of earlier in the evening. He wants to know more about Buffy's antagonists. He is able to identify The Three as her assailants. Xan takes this opportunity to insist that Buffy must stay at his house until Giles comes up with a way to defeat this 'samurai sect' in a very blatant and transparent bid to get her away from Angel of the Bedroom Visits. It doesn't really pan out (which is a very good thing, as we'll learn more about Xander's family situation. I really don't think he wants Buffy to get a good, close up look at that mess). He also points out that Angel should, rather conveniently, get out of town while the danger exists.

Giles tells them that for the moment, the immediate danger has passed. The Three, having failed (with ONE attempt) will offer up their lives to The Master.

Scene 11: The Master chooses this as a learning moment for Colin, the Annointed. The Three offer up their lives to The Master for failing (which would seem to indicate they have a perfect track record up until now - which considering what we've seen is frankly, ludicrous).

The scene is slightly amusing as The Master tells Colin that taking their lives will bring him little joy. Darla uses a wood pole from behind to stake the first of the Three, and he further states that sometimes a little joy in enough. We hear the other two being staked by a joyous Darla.



Commentary: Alas, it is stupid. They tried ONE TIME and didn't have immediate effect, so they're offed?! That's it? That's the 'threat' of The Three, these fearsome Warrior-Vampires? See my other comments about Fork-guy Syndrome.

Scene 12: Presumably later that same day, we see Sunnydale High exterior shot. We cut to a 'library closed' sign as Giles gets ready for a training session with Buffy. She immediately likes the idea of training on the crossbow. He insists on the quarterstaff. She complains about her foes not being Friar Tuck. He insists that these traditions have been handed down for centuries - once she shows proficiency in the staff, they'll move onto the funner weapons.

She kicks his ass. He, lying on his back, tells her the crossbow will be next....

Commentary: This is actually just played for a cute laugh, but from a meta-pov, it reinforces Giles' future observations that Buffy is one of the most naturally gifted Slayers who have come along. This is full of subtext for the Buffy Universe: it explains her natural ability to overcome overwhelming obstacles, to make choices that are not only hard, but unendurable, to come back from the dead and to change the entire world. One could also make a meta-leap into believing that she wasn't located by the Council much sooner particularly because she is so special. The PTB may not have wanted them to 'break her' by being sure they trained her in their dogma from childhood. Perhaps, they deliberately hid her from the Watchers Council, so that she would be independent and able to look at things from outside of tradition? I think that is a very interesting thought - could the PTB consider the Council as pretty much superfluous at this point in history? Could it even be that the views of the Council, who think they're working on the Powers behalf, have grown more modern than the Council itself and is moving beyond them? Wouldn't it be ironic if the oldest of powers find themselves to be modernizing far faster than the humans who should be the ones advocating changing their tactics with the times?

Scene 13: That night, we're back at the Slayer's house. She comes into her bedroom with a bag of food she was able to sneak up. Angel is once again doing that melding into a dark shadow thing where his bright white T-Shirt is invisible. I'd almost think this is a vampire power, except that it is never identified as such over the entire course of the show.

Commentary: Anyway, this part is interesting because Angel has been there ALL DAY. You'd be forgiven for thinking 'why in the world he wouldn't have left at some point'. Of course, we know why by now, but in context this is a major clue to the revelation about to play out....

When Buffy asks what he did all day, he tells her he read a little. He tries to lead up to a discussion about them, but her eyes have fallen on her diary out on her table. She is really mad and embarrassed that he read her diary -

"My diary? You read my diary?! That is not okay! A diary is like a person's most private place! I- You don't even know what I was writing about! Hunk can mean a lot of things, BAD THINGS. And-and, when I said your eyes were penetrating, I meant to write... 'bulgey'. And 'A' doesn't even stand for 'Angel', for that matter! I-it stands for 'Achmed', a charming foreign exchange student and that whole fantasy part has nothing to even do with you, at all!"

Angel: Buffy, your mother moved your diary when she came in to straighten up. I watched her from the closet. I didn't read it, I swear.

Buffy: Oh. (realizes she's sort of blown everything she's been thinking about him) Oh....

Angel gets back to the point he had started to make: He can't be around her because when he is, he wants to kiss her. He tells her that he's older than she is and so things can never happen between them. He tells her that he should go, but he doesn't. Buffy asks how much older, but doesn't seem very worried about an answer.

They begin to kiss, which quickly becomes heated - and -

We get the revelation that is the whole point of the episode - Angel is a vampire, himself! This occurs when he can't stop himself during the heated kiss and ends up with vamp-face.

Buffy screams. He flees out of the window. Joyce rushes in and Buffy tells her she just thought she saw something outside.





Scene 14: The next day at school, Willow is in shock at the news about Angel. Xander and Giles are with them and Buffy asks Giles if it's possible for a vampire to be a good person.

Commentary: Unfortunately, it's difficult to focus on Giles and Buffy when Xander's shirt is standing there screaming in high pitch to be noticed and derided.

Giles regretfully repeats the information he yelled at Xander in 'The Harvest'... the vampire isn't a person at all. They have the body and certain portions of memories and personality of the host, but they're still demons at the core.

Buffy is struggling to understand what the game plan was, if Angel is working on The Master's behalf. After all, he lay next to her all night and didn't attack her. Xan's view is (self-centeredly, but as far as they know, not wrong) plain - Angel is vampire, Buffy is Slayer, Slayer slays vampire. Giles reluctantly agrees that slaying Angel would be her duty. Xander offers to Buffy that it won't be easy because she has feelings for him, but it's not like she's in love... except that her look clearly says that maybe she is.

Xan (self-righteously, which is one of his least attractive traits that will rear its head from time to time) exclaims she's in love with a vampire! He asks if she's gone nuts.

Unfortunately, they aren't tucked away in the library - Cordelia says 'What?!' from behind him, causing him to clumsily back pedal... he wasn't talking about vampires, he was referring to an, uh, umpire.

Cordelia wasn't even paying attention to them, though. Her focus is on some girl wearing the same designer outfit that she is. She is outraged and marches up to the copycat accusing her of wearing a knock-off and complaining about Free Trade Agreements.

"You think we have problems...," Buffy says.

Scene 15: Elsewhere, in a dank and dark space, the camera focuses on a door in what appears to be a power generation plant, possibly. Angel comes in and goes to another door. He enters a makeshift apartment filled with books and curios. It's ecelectic looking, but not what you'd expect from a vampire residence.

He senses a presence and asks who is with him.

It's 'a friend', Darla! Through dialog it becomes obvious that Angel and Darla have an extensive past together. She berates him for throwing in with the Slayer and reminds him that he isn't like her and her friends. To bring the point home, she opens some blinds, letting sunlight stream in from outside. Angel throws himself for the shadows. He tells her that he's not exactly like her these days either - a statement she dismisses by looking in his fridge, where we see blood bags waiting.

Commentary: The scene between Angel and Darla here is well acted by both parties. The lighting is unfortunate, though. David had quite the acne problem in his youth. His pockmarks are highlighted by the lighting scheme in the scene, alas.

Darla tells him that she can feel his hunger for Buffy simmering in him. She wants to watch it explode. He tries to warn her that she might not want to see it, but she is very clearly unafraid of anything he might do. She offers that he should tell Buffy about his curse - see if she understands. If not, Darla will be around for him.

Commentary: I find this scene interesting because Julie's acting here really makes me believe that Darla is being serious. That despite whatever this history is between them (yah, we'll get so much more about this over the next several years) and despite the fact that he is helping the Slayer against her, it really feels like she wants him to have a chance convincing Buffy that he's sincere in his efforts to help her. Of course, it's probably because she wants him to end up feeding off of her, but it is still a nicely acted scene between old lovers.

Scene 16: Back in the library, the gang is researching. Giles startles Xander by coming up behind him. He tells the others that he hasn't found anything about Angel specifically, but he recalls that he hadn't looked at previous Watcher diaries in a while and wondered if there might not be information there.

Willow interrupts to Buffy about how embarrassing it must have been when she thought Angel had read her diary, but then he hadn't... before noticing Giles' stern looks at her. She tells him she's listening.

Giles shares an abbreviated history of one called Angelus and his leaving Ireland to arrive in America, where he suddenly lays quiet for the last few decades. We learn here that Angel is over 200 years old (this fluctuates because Joss isn't good with keeping his dates straight as will be shown with the ridiculous goofs in Buffy's bio in the very next episode - it's better if you don't hold onto the specific 240 years given here). While Willow focuses on the fact that there are no Watcher reports of Angel feeding on and maiming of people since he arrived in America about 80 years previously, Xander focuses on the Angelus aspect reported from Europe. Buffy is left conflicted.

Scene 17: Back in The Master's prison, Darla insists that The Master allow her to take out Buffy. The Master accuses her of trying to give him orders. She sarcastically responds that they'll just wait around then, while the Slayer kills them one by one. He allows her to give her plan to him, which involves manipulating Angel into killing Buffy to keep her from killing him first. And, thereby, bringing Angelus back into their fold.

Commentary: The nice thing about this is Darla - we see no sign of that annoying whiney thing she was doing during The Harvest attempt. She's much more like we know her from flashback/future episodes - confident, forceful and manipulative: As she should be.

Scene 18: That evening, Buffy and Willow are in the library trying to study, but they are more focused on Angel and Buffy's not-really-relationship. Willow uses the opportunity to point out her own fantasies about Xander grabbing her suddenly and kissing her.

Commentary: It's all very romance-novel-ish, which will be a consistent theme for Willow. She sort of manages to ignore harsh complications and only see the romantic aspects of relationships. She does it with Buffy & Angel. (future me) She'll do it with herself and Oz and she'll do it again with Tara - even as she sabotages that relationship. She never wants 'real life' to interfere with the fantasy that she builds around romantic relationships, whether her or her friends. The only time she doesn't follow this outlook is when it comes to Xander - she is from the start against both the Xan/Cordelia and Xan/Anya relationships. (end future me)

Hidden in the library stacks, Darla spies and listens in as Buffy describes kissing Angel (pre-vamp freakout). As Buffy tries to turn her attention back to history and mentions that in half an hour she'll go home to mope, Darla smiles to herself and silently leaves - the two girls none the wiser (including Buffy, who's hit and miss ability to sense being watched by vampires tends to fail when she's emotionally distracted - this really isn't inconsistent in her character).

Scene 19: At Buffy's, her mother is having coffee and working on something when she hears mysterious creaks from outdoors. She gets up to look through the backdoor but sees nothing. As she turns away, we see Darla in her vampire face (awful make up job here, by the way) peering in with a big grin on her pointy-toothed mouth!



As Joyce wanders through the hallway, listening, a knock comes at the door. It is Darla, back to her high-school girl look. She tells Joyce she's there to help Buffy study for the War of Independence. Joyce invites her in to wait for Buffy to arrive home.

Commentary: What is great here is that Darla mentions Willow's tutoring Buffy in the Civil War from listening in at the library and mentions that her family goes back to the Revolutionary Period - which will come into play again when we get Darla's history in years to come. I also love Darla thanking Joyce for inviting her in and the whole scene where Joyce asks if she'd like something to eat and Darla gives an enthusiastic 'yes, I would'. Joyce then asks if she'd like something big or small to eat and Darla says 'something big'.

Okay, that last question was really awkward - I've never had a friend's mom ask me if I'd like something big or small to eat - ever. But, I like Darla's playing around with poor, unknowing Joyce, here.

Scene 20: Outside of Buffy's house, Angel has arrived again. Obviously reluctantly, but unable to stay away, he's come to see Buffy (and probably explain the whole curse deal as Darla suggested he should). He stops short of knocking on the door, and starts to leave instead, unable to go through with it when he hears Joyce scream. He rushes to the back of the house and breaks into the side door, to find Darla holding Joyce - unconscious.

Joyce has fang marks on her neck. Darla tells him she only had a small bite and asks him if he isn't hungry. She tosses Joyce into his arms and leaves him there physically struggling with not biting Joyce as well.

Which is where Buffy walks in - to find Joyce in a swoon, with bite marks, in Angel's arms, and with him in fang mode. He growls at her, still struggling with his inner demon.

Fade to black....

Scene 21: We cut to the Summers' living room window, which explodes outward as Angel comes through it. From the house, Buffy tells him if he ever comes back she'll kill him. She then rushes back to the kitchen for her mother as Angel realizes everything he's been trying to do has come to an end.

Commentary: I've seen A LOT of commentary complaining that Buffy is wasting a lot of time here, as her mother is lying injured and should be dialing 911 instead of wasting time threatening Angel. I find this commentary petty, nitpicky and frankly ridiculous. We don't see what happened in the house, but I don't see Buffy ignoring the vampire who just bit her mother so she can pick up the phone. I see no problem with the scenario that she immediately grabbed Angel away from her mother and beat him down the hallway to the living room, finally sending him out of the window. Why didn't she just kill him immediately at that point? For the same reasons as when she won't kill him immediately later on - she hasn't reached that emotional point yet. She wants him to just go away - not dead.

Anyway, Buffy calls for an ambulance and Angel wanders away into the night....

Xander and Willow come into the kitchen at that point and ask what happened - she replies, "Angel."

Commentary: Naturally, there is no explanation for why they came around to the side kitchen door, nor is the smashed out front window ever mentioned again.

Scene 22: In the hospital, Joyce tells Buffy that 'your friend came over' and that she must have slipped and fallen. The doctors say it looks like she fell onto a 'barbecue fork', but they don't even have one of those. Giles comes into the room and Buffy introduces him, confusing Joyce as to why he's there. He tells her he just came by to wish her a speedy recovery and she smiles with a "boy, teacher's really do care in this town".

Commentary: This actually reinforces the "Sunnydale justification" syndrome we'll come to be used to. Bizarre incidents receive a frankly ridiculous explanation and everyone buys it. We already saw this at work at the end of The Harvest.

In the hallway, the gang try to sympathize with Buffy, but she's too busy being angry at herself for not doing something about Angel immediately upon finding out what he was. She left him be because of her 'feelings' and he fed off her mother. She decides to kill him and be done with it.

Commentary: Need I even say how this one episode reflects on the entirety of the latter half of Season 2. All of the same arguments that take several episodes to work through are all stated right here in a few minutes. This episode is one of the most important in the entire Buffy mythos and will echo throughout the whole run of both Buffy and Angel the Series.

Giles is worried about her facing Angel (echo into Season 2!) and tells her it will take more than a stake. She agrees and goes to fetch the crossbow (echo into her fight against The Master in a few episodes! Even the camera work as Buffy prepares the crossbow with determined face will be echoed in her going off to face The Master in Prophecy Girl).



Scene 23: Back in Angel's apartment, Darla is there insisting that the Slayer is out there hunting for him right now. He tells her to leave him alone. But, she won't. She wants him to fight back against her. She asks him if he thought she'd see his 'true face' and give him a kiss, anyway (which Buffy will! In S2!).

We see Buffy testing her crossbow on a poster as Darla continues in voiceover that Angel doesn't need to continue denying who he really is. We cut back to her up in Angel's face as she pleads with him not to die like a whiney human. "Kill. Feed. Live."

He explodes into motion, grabbing up Darla and slamming her against his apartment door. She tells him that he's hurting her, before adding that is a good thing. Angel had told her he wants it finished, but I don't think Darla gets what he means. She thinks he's looking to kill Buffy and 'finish it' between them - but what he's actually talking about is confronting Buffy so she'll kill him (this is echoed forward into Season 3 when Angel decides that it isn't the vampire that needs to die, but the man and again confronts Buffy, only with the First taking on Darla's role here).

Scene 24: Buffy is out hunting for Angel when she ends up at the closed Bronze. She hears a window smash.

As Buffy climbs up a ladder to the roof of the Bronze, we cut back to the hospital.

Scene 25: Giles is talking/watching over Joyce. She asks him if Buffy struggling in school with history is just a matter of her not applying herself. Giles explains that Buffy is very much about the now, while history is all about the then.

Joyce mentions how hard Buffy seems to be trying - studying with Willow... and with Darla. Which grabs Giles' attention. It comes out that Darla is the one who visited Joyce in the kitchen, as we saw, but is only now coming out and throwing an entirely different interpretation on what happened. Giles realizes that Buffy is hunting down the wrong vampire.

Scene 26: Back at the Bronze, Buffy has made it in and is coming down the stairs from the mezzanine. Angel confronts Buffy, trying to push her into taking him out for good.

Commentary: Interestingly, Buffy is in the leather-pants for this confrontation... as she will be again when she confronts Faith.

Scene 27: Coming back from fade out for commercial, Angel morphs into his human face and tells her not to go soft on him. She fires. Her bolt goes into the wall. He tells her she was a little wide.

She confronts him over what he thought he was doing, spending the night in her room - helping her this whole time... she wants to know what the game was. Angel and her talk and it comes out about Angel's history with the Romany and the Curse, restoring his soul. He tells her that she can't know what it is like to have done the things he's done, including killing his family and the friends of his family and their children, and now to care about it all.

Commentary: A lot of people seem to like this scene for the angsty goodness of it all. I find David's acting awkward here with his over-emoting emotional gaze of inner torment, so I'm not as enamored of it. But, I do love how this simple dialog becomes a springboard for everything regarding the Angel/Angelus schism and the details of the Curse. It is impossible to overstate how critical the latter half of this episode is to the entire Angel mythos.

Angel further reveals that he didn't bite Joyce, but he couldn't say anything at the time because he was too busy struggling to not kill her. He tells her that he can walk like a man, but he isn't one (as Giles has repeatedly stated, but which we all tend to forget as our emotions lead us astray). Buffy puts her crossbow down and tells him to go ahead and kill her if that is what he's intending to do, but of course, it isn't what he wants.

Commentary: And, we'll see this again in Becoming Part II, where Buffy will have absolute trust in Angel to the point of offering him her throat.

The moment is broken by the arrival of Darla.

Scene 28: The rest of the gang are out trying to find Buffy in order to tell her that Angel isn't the enemy that she thinks he is, while Xander takes the opportunity to point out that she may already be fighting "Angel and his friends", obviously (and jerkishly, I'll freely admit) refusing to accept that the situation has unexpectedly changed.

Scene 29: In the Bronze, Darla is asking Buffy and Angel if they know what the saddest thing of all is....

Buffy: Bad hair on top of that outfit?

I'm laughing, but Darla isn't. She spills to Buffy that her and Angel used to love one another quite deeply - temporarily shocking Buffy as another difficult fact is dropped on her like a ton of bricks. Buffy quips about Darla being older than Angel and looking a "little worn around the eyes" just between them girls and Darla dumps another fact Buffy probably would rather have not known - that Darla is Angel's sire!

Buffy does this cool move of using her foot to kick her crossbow up off the floor and into her hands, but Darla reveals that she's packing two guns. She shoots Angel, acknowledging it won't kill him, but will hurt enough to get him out of the way.

Then she shoots multiple times at Buffy herself, as she tries to take cover behind the billiards table.



Outside, the gang are near to the Bronze and hear the gunshots.

Inside, Darla is threatening to start with shooting Buffy in the kneecaps and work her way up from there as she fumbles with her crossbow.

Buffy gets a shot off and hits Darla in the chest, but misses the heart, at which Darla gloats.

Scene 30: The gang has also sneaked into the Bronze through the roof, apparently, since they're in the mezzanine. Willow distracts Darla by shouting to Buffy that Angel didn't attack Joyce and drawing some gunfire. This allows Buffy to run for a jewelry(?) stand and dive over it. Darla tells Buffy to "take it like a man".

And, Angel shocks the hell out of her by staking her through the back with one of Buffy's fired crossbow bolts. She whispers his name unbelievingly and dusts away (but if you think that takes care of her appearances, you haven't been paying attention to this review). Oh, and like Luke, Darla takes an inordinate amount of time to dust away.

He and Buffy share significant looks before he turns and walks away (flashforward to the end of S3 when we'll see this again).

Scene 31: In his underground lair/prison - The Master throws a fit over his sensed loss of Darla. The Annointed One tells him that Darla was weak. He informs him that they don't need her. His voice is all demonic-distorted. He tells The Master it will be he who brings him the Slayer and he will rise on that day (which is correct). He takes The Master's hand and leads him to... ?

The Master can't leave, so just where are they going?

Scene 32: An unknown number of nights later, the gang is attending the Post-Fumigation party at the Bronze where they celebrate that the cockroaches are now hardier than they were. Willow sees Angel watching them and points him out to Buffy, who goes over to him as Xander jealously complains.

Buffy and Angel agree with one another that they can't let anything develop between the two of them. And, then they kiss... deeply kiss....

When Buffy walks away, we see that Angel has the burned imprint of the cross she is wearing on his chest (the same cross he gave her in Welcome to the Hellmouth). It's all romantic, or ironic or romantically ironic/ironically romantic or something. Or it would be if Buffy wasn't utterly blind to the fact that she just burned her cross into his chest, even though it's right there being unmistakable....



The Good: The sheer amount of history building / future building details of Angel's life is amazing. This is the episode that acts as the foundation to everything that occurs with Angel, Angelus and Darla going forward.

David B.'s acting is generally getting much better than it started out being in 'Welcome to the Hellmouth' and 'The Harvest'.

I like, in retrospect, how you can see themes for the entire rest of the series and into Angel's own, that are explored first here.

I like that Angel's being revealed as a 'vampire with a soul' immediately gives his character instant depth and interest where it didn't exist before.

I really like Darla throughout, but especially when she's confronting Angel or Buffy.


The Bad: Angel's confession of his past deeds is one of those scenes where I think the acting fails.

I wish they'd stop talking up threats, only to have them come out as sadly underwhelming.


Other Thoughts: I like The Master in this one, too, including his genuine grief over losing Darla.

The Angel/Buffy relationship takes a huge step forward starting here which leads to all sort of angsty goodness, so that's a real bonus.


The Score: I like this one, but it is much better in retrospect for all of the things we can see that starts here than for the episode in and of itself. Many of the scenes are filmed too darkly and the Bronze set is really paltry in the last scenes with Darla fighting Buffy. Willow's voice over warning Buffy that Darla bit Joyce, not Angel is also more than obviously recorded in post. I really enjoyed how Joyce was handled here and of course Darla is always fun, but there is just something lacking in the episode. I think it was the fact that so much effort was put into telling us how dangerous The Three were and then they were so abruptly discarded with nary a thought. It's a good, re-watchable episode, but I don't think it is a great one:  3.75 out of 5


Tags: buffy season 1 reviews
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