harsens_rob (harsens_rob) wrote,

BTVS Review: Surprise

Buffy the Vampire Slayer
S2, E13


Written by: Marti Noxon
Directed by: Michael Lange

Blurb: On Buffy's seventeenth birthday, she and Angel must prevent Spike and Drusilla from resurrecting the Judge, a demon who has the power to destroy humanity.

My Blurb: That summary makes this seem like it'll be another 'monster of the week' episode. Oh, it is so much more....

Scene 01: We open with Buffy restlessly tossing and turning....

She wakes up and grabs her glass of water on her nightstand. Finding it emptied, she forces herself to get up to go to the bathroom for more.

Scene 02: As she steps into the hallway, over her shoulder, we see DRUSILLA!?!

Commentary: Wonderful scene... very startling and Juliet is always creepy when she's giving us that half-smile, amused and deadly look.

Even more disturbing than her being in Buffy's house, somehow? The little corner of blood at her lips! Where's Joyce?! WHERE IS JOYCE?!

Scene 03: Buffy opens the bathroom door, still not sensing that Dru is behind her and stalking her. Inside the bathroom, we find The Bronze... OH THANK GOODNESS, IT'S A DREAM! But, it's also obviously a Slayer dream, which means the fact that Dru is there is still not at all less disturbing despite my relief that Joyce hasn't actually been fed on by Drusilla.

Buffy walks through dream-Bronze as kids dance in slo-mo to the music. There is a monkey in a little jacket and pants in the background on a table. Willow speaks to the monkey, echoing Oz' joke to her about the animal crackers and the monkey wearing pants. I believe she says that the hippo is annoyed with the monkey's pants.

Commentary: It took me until now ... ugh, why did it take this long ... for it to dawn on me that this isn't just a joke. That is why Willow is looking so disturbed here. Dream-Willow isn't referencing Oz and the animal crackers, at all, though it is a meta-reference to that earlier scene. She's talking about Angelus' hatred of Angel acting like a man, trying to warn Buffy in a dreamy-way that Angel is in danger from his alter-ego. This totally puts an entirely new spin on this scene and where I've been confused for so very long over why it was here, it suddenly all becomes clear and wonderful -- in a totally dread-inducing way, of course. Also, she's speaking french because Oz told her that all monkey's are French. And, finally, pay attention to the lyrics of the song playing in the background... again, it is also a warning to Buffy about the mistake that "lying down and giving into him" is going to be. Now that I'm getting what Willow is trying to tell Buffy, I totally dig this scene's layers!

Willow gives her a little wave, and Buffy confusedly moves off deeper into the throng.

She next meets her mother, holding a cup and saucer. Joyce asks her if she really thinks she's ready. Buffy asks after what she meant, but Joyce only drops her saucer - it shattering violently on the floor. [Yeah, no symbolic warning there, or anything.] Joyce then wanders away into the crowd, leaving Buffy even more confused.

She wanders to the coffee-bar and then turns to see Angel. She immediately smiles as he makes his way slowly across the room to her, a small grin on his face. But their romantic moment of staring into one another's eyes is interrupted by Drusilla, who plunges a stake into Angel's back, dusting him. She wishes Buffy a Happy Birthday.

Commentary: Now, the amazing thing about this scene is Angel's ring on his finger as he disintegrates. This is the Claddagh ring, which we haven't seen yet! We're going to see Angel present this ring to Buffy later, as her precog dream begins to play out. This is another thing that I hadn't noticed before this scene by scene analysis.

Scene 04: Buffy snaps awake, as you might imagine.

Scene 05: After credits and kick-ass theme: The next morning, on her way to school, she swings by Angel's place to check on him. She's in a slight-panic, as she's had that whole "I dreamed of The Master killing me, and then he did" thing under her belt.

Angel invites her in, shirtless, and she informs him that she's worried that Dru is alive because she saw her kill him. Angel tries to calm her nerves by reminding her that not every dream she has is prophetic, using her other dream of her and Giles opening an office supply warehouse in Vegas as an example of one which will probably not be coming true...

Commentary: ... OMG, Crack!Fic writers, get to work :-)

Buffy is still freaked, proclaiming that they never saw her body [Well, no, because she wouldn't have one if she was dead-dead, now would she? But also, maybe you would have noticed she wasn't dead and corrected that, if you had bothered looking under the organ you dropped on her and Spike, Buff... just sayin'].

Angel chooses to comfort her next with some of those magic lips, to cut off any more panic attack. {Oh, the Buffy/Angel theme. I LOVE this musical composition. I mean "adoring" type of love, here. It is beautiful and aching and starts sweet, but then gets so dramatic, which we'll hear more of in BECOMING, PART II.}

Commentary: And, of course, let's not let the irony escape us here. Buffy is taken comfort in her tingly-feelings of making out heavy with Angel, when that is the LAST thing she should be taking comfort in. God, I just LOVE the way that this episode is reflected back on itself in Innocence with the exact opposite reactions. Marti and Joss did a brilliant job between these two episodes.

Buffy tries to leave for school, but not before there is more heavy making out. Angel asks her about her birthday gift she wants, but she tells him to just surprise her.

Commentary: Must I break in here after every scene to yell, "NO - YOU DON'T WANT THAT"? Apparently. Also, I know that I try really hard not to review these episodes in hindsight, trying to approach them as if I'm watching them in real time -- but, with this one it isn't possible. The set up toward the next episode is so smartly done, that I just cannot watch it now, without that reference. Which is why I mentioned at the end of the review for 'Bad Eggs', that I'd be reviewing Surprise and Innocence immediately following one another. I can't imagine watching the former, without immediately watching the latter, anymore.

Buffy again tries to leave, but admits to Angel that the part where they say good-bye in getting harder. Angel slyly says, "Yeah, it is", which with David's wry grin seems to be pointedly referring to his penis -- confirmed, I think, by Sarah glancing downward.

Scene 06: With Buffy finally having made it out of Angel's apartment, she tells Willow all about the scene. They talk about the decision to have sex and Buffy finally says she thinks that they're going to "seize it" (Uh-huh, I'm sure that was referring to 'the day' and not something more grabbable). Willow is all amazed 'Wow' and Buffy's all smiling 'Yeah...'.

Commentary: Of course, Willow brings up "Welcome to the Hellmouth", where Buffy first told Willow she should 'seize the day, 'cause tomorrow you might be dead'. This backfired on Willow, though. It led her to leave the club with the vampire, Thomas and nearly getting herself vamped. Again, the everything in the episode is trying to warn Buffy AND US that we don't want Bangel to happen. But, because it isn't directly telling us this, it is so easy to miss [which I totally did on the first watch -- I was completely into the romance of Angel and Buffy and missed all of the warnings that we're being given so clearly in hindsight]. The only thing that I'll end up not understanding is Dru killing Angel in Buffy's dream. Drusilla doesn't actually kill Angel. I am wondering if it is referencing her forcing Buffy into the impossible choice of BECOMING, PART II rather than anything in this episode? Thoughts, anyone?

Scene 07: The bell rings in the background and Buffy and Wills heads toward the school, with Willow being stuck on 'wow'-repeat at Buffy's intended plans to sleep with Angel. They spot Oz playing with his guitar (uh, not a euphemism, but it certainly could be in this setting, I guess). Buffy asks Will if there was any sparkage between she and Mr. Adorable.

Buffy encourages Willow to go and talk to him....

Scene 08: Willow hems-haws a bit, before she forces herself to go and talk to him. She's awkward and the scene is a bit awkward... UNTIL magic happens (not literal magic, the natural kind of magic).

Oz tells Willow that he's going to ask her out for the following day, but he says he's kind of nervous about it.

Willow replies that if it helps him at all, she's planning on saying yes.

Oz tells her it does help, it gives him a certain comfort zone. "Do you wanna go out with me tomorrow night?"

"OHHH... I can't!" Willow responds, apologetically.

"Well, see, I like that you're unpredictable," Oz deadpans.

Will explains that she had almost forgotten a surprise party for Buffy's birthday. She blushingly tells Oz that he could come as her date and he agrees, giving Willow a major case of the cute-geek-grins.

Commentary: Even I, who have been accused of having a heart of solid stone, cannot resist the Willow/Oz ship after this scene [not that I ever wanted to resist -- whatever kept cute-babe, Seth, showing up...].

Scene 09: In a hallway, Xander is talking to Cordelia in front of her locker which can't be good for her status. And that is still her primary concern when Xan discusses the two to them going to Buffy's party as an official date. She very bluntly tells him that she doesn't want everyone knowing about their embarrassing not-coupledom.

Scene 10: Xander, having walked away annoyed, runs across Giles who confirms that the party plans are still a go. From the staircase comes Buffy and Ms. Calendar.

Xan teases Buffy that he feels a pre-birthday spanking coming on, which Jenny puts a kibosh on.

Giles notes Buffy's down-mood and she relates her dream about Dru being "alive" and then her killing Angel and admits to a freak. Giles tries to remind her it could be nothing, which Buffy also admits. But, it involves Angel, so there is an automatic-maxi-wig in place.

Scene 11: We cut to a very dark location, where a vampire is bringing in a package. We hear Spike's voice, just before we see him *roll* into view. Y'see, that church organ falling on him has left him a bit the worse off, even as Drusilla has become stronger (as we saw at the of What's My Line, Part II). He's now got a huge mark on his face and he's confined to a wheelchair.

Spike is actually just ready to get out of Sunnydale, but Dru wants to throw herself a party. She's in good spirits until she sees the flowers draping the chairs at the dining table. She exclaims she can't abide them and have a freak out over it. Spike calms her down... so Dru may be physically stronger, but her mind doesn't appear to have been much helped by the healing ritual.

Commentary: This actually makes a lot of sense, as Drusilla was driven insane before Angelus turned her, let's remember. She's carried that broken mind with her into undeath. Plus, it's just a good thing, because I find psycho-Dru to be really fun.

Drusilla then puts on a sly smile and asks Spike if she can peak into one of her gifts on the table, which brings Spike back to a smile as well.

Scene 12: We get a POV from inside one of the boxes, being opened. Drusilla grins, pleased, as she informs Spike that we reak of death... oh, rude!...; she tells Spike that her party will be the best because it will also be the last.

Scene 13: At the Summers house, Buffy and Joyce are speaking the next morning. Buffy is trying to weasle driving lessons from her mother so she can get her license. Joyce asks her if she's really ready, causing Buffy to start, only made worse by Joyce dropping the plate just as she had dropped the saucer in Buffy's dream.

Scene 14: We jump away from Buffy's scared-face to the school, pre-class. Jenny is in her classroom getting ready for that day. She's snuck up on by a tall guy with an accent, who startles her. It quickly becomes clear that she and the stranger know one another, and that there is tension between them. So much so, that Jenny places her desk between them.

There is talk of an elder-woman, a feeling of lessoning pain, a curse in place, and a girl. Suddenly, we're left to ask "Who the hell are you, Jenny?" and it's really uncomfortable.

The tall man is angered by the thought of a girl lessoning "the pain", and Jenny makes clear we're speaking of Angel. She assures tall guy that he still suffers and that he has been making amends for his evil deeds. The tall man is not impressed with this and through exposition, we find out that he is a gypsy from a clan that Angelus had made to suffer -- but more -- Jenny is actually Janna of the Kalderash clan of gypsies! She isn't in Sunnydale by accident. She's been keeping tabs on Angel and the man in front of her is her Uncle. He orders Janna to take whatever means she needs to to ensure that Angel and 'this girl' are parted so that his suffering will continue.

He also berates her loudly for thinking that she has become this Jennifer Calendar persona.

Commentary: This is a great twist, I have to say. When I first saw the episode, I was all... OH, NO -- IF YOU HURT GILES...!

Scene 15: As Jenny/Janna is having her confrontation about Angel with her Uncle, Buffy has rushed to the library to tell Giles about her foreboding in her mom's kitchen.

Giles promises to check up on Dru to see if there are any patterns she follows, just in case she isn't ashes. Xan and Willow are bummed out by the birthday bash cancel for this latest Sunnydale alert, but Giles insists there will be no party-plan-cancellations. He insists that Buffy will only turn 17 once and she is going to get her party.

This perks up Xan and Willow... especially Willow... since she went and bought party hats and everything, already.

Scene 16: A bit later, still at the school, Buffy is clomping down the hallway. She gets startled by Jenny Calendar coming from one of the rooms. Jenny seems fidgety... maybe nervous... she tells Buffy uncomfortably that Giles wanted to relay a message to her that plans have had a change.

Jenny offers to drive Buffy over to where Giles is....

Commentary: So, we'll talk a bit more about this scene in a moment because the way this is filmed is surely designed to make us suspicious of Jenny's motives and her intentions.

Scene 17: Jenny has driven Buffy into a back alley, where Buff guesses they're going to The Bronze. Jen says she doesn't know -- Giles just gave her an address.

Either way, they're interrupted by a mysterious truck doing some shady loading/unloading. To Jenny's consternation, Buffy insists on checking things out before they proceed.

Scene 18: Buffy walks up the the truck, and she meets Dalton again. He's the same vampire that stole the DuLac cross for Spike and Dru to cure Drusilla with Angel's lifeforce.

She quips about his criminal stealing ways. The truck starts up, distracting her, which I guess was a good thing since there is a vamp in the driver's seat who now rushes out into her fist. Good thing he didn't just clobber her while she was unwary.

Anyway, she super-punches out driver vampire. She goes toward the back of the truck for Dalton, but a second minion vampire grabs her from above and yanks her up into the bed of the truck. There she finds a third vampire waiting to gang on her.

As she begins fighting third and fourth vampire, Dalton is in the background looking like he isn't sure what he should do....

Scene 19: Meanwhile, Angel is impatiently asking where Buffy is. Willow pops her head up over a table and tells him to shush, that she thinks she hears her coming. It is obvious that there has been a surprise party set up and that Jenny was bringing Buffy, until they got delayed.

Commentary: Which brings us back to that scene 16: Jenny's behavior here, especially that look she gives to Buffy when the Slayer isn't seeing her, is a cheat. At first, you could say that Jenny was nervous with the excitement of surprising her at the party, and all. I'm sure that was what was meant, but they also wanted it to be ambiguous so that we wouldn't entirely trust Jenny, thanks to that earlier scene about the Kalerash in her classroom.

All of it fits together narratively, but the feeling of it struck me wrong in hindsight. It was less ambiguous about Jenny's motives and more 'darker' that was appropriate. I think it was that last look at the back of Buffy's head given to her by Jenny: It was just a smidge too much for that scene, when in reality, Jenny's purposes in driving Buffy to this alley had nothing to do with anything except the party.

It left this mistaken impression that maybe Jenny was setting Buffy up to be attacked here, due to the gypsies and Angel's interactions and this curse we've heard mentioned.

I think they just overtipped their hand a little heavily on wanting us to suspect Jenny was up to no good by having her make that suspicious glare at Buffy's back, when really Jenny would have no actual reason to have done that, except for the audience's benefit.

Scene 20: In the flatbed truck, Buffy continues fighting - snapping off a bit of the wood railing around the truck bed to make an impromptu stake. One vampire gets dusted.

The other lifts Buffy into the air and throws her against the building (in a painful looking stunt)....

Scene 21: ... where the gang start hearing the commotion going on.

Buffy comes smashing through a blacked out window and falls headlong, with the vampire, into The Bronze. She quickly grabs a drumstick from a set and stakes vampire. Cordy jumps up and yells a surprise, to everyone elses' "Really?" face.

Buffy wonders what is going on, and Giles tells her suprise party for her. She's touched. Angel asks if she's alright and she says she is with big smiles at the party laid out before her.

Of course, there is a hitch in all of this... in addition to just the vampire attack... and that is Oz. Oz the Unknowing.

He asks if anyone else noticed that guy turning into dust, in his deadpanned Oz-way. Xander flatly says, 'Yeah, vampires, real...' and wanders off. Willow is concerned at the shock to Oz, but he takes it pretty much in stride telling her that vampires in Sunnydale actually explains A LOT.

In the meantime, Jenny comes in with a crate that Dalton-vampire was carrying. She tells them that Dalton-vamp and Driver-vamp left it behind when they ran off.

Scene 22: They set the crate on the table, and it is of an unusual shape. Buffy finds a latch for it and they open it up...

... Only for a disembodied, animated arm to leap up and clench its fist around her throat!

Scene 23: We come back from a fade-out for commmercials to find Buffy still struggling with the strangulating arm. Angel is able to get it to release its choking grip on her throat and back into the box. The gang try to puzzle out this latest weird, when Angel seems to know more than he immediately shares.

Angel tells the assembled about a legend that occurred before his time about a demon designed to separate the righteous from the wicked and to burn the righteous down.

Commentary: Yah. He just pulled that out of his ass based on an arm in a box. I don't like this exposition scene both because it's awkwardly revealed as described, but also this is one of those thankfully-becoming-rare points where David's acting takes a swerve for the unconvincing... like season one.

Angel reveals that they're dealing with The Judge (Yah. Based on one animated, but otherwise non-descript arm), which Giles recognizes. Buffy insists she needs a bit more with the backstory exposition. Giles explicates that The Judge couldn't be killed when an army was sent to destory him, so instead they focused on chopping him into pieces which they then separated from one another so that he would be trapped helpless. Jenny points out that if the arm is in Sunnydale, it is a good bet that the rest of the pieces are being gathered as well to re-assemble the demon.

Commentary: It's a neat backstory, but I do feel the need to nitpick it just a bit because it is SO COMMON when it comes to these hidden McGuffins [with latest example seen just last Thursday in 'The Secret Circle' with the Skull Crystal fragments]. Why is The Judge left in such large, and convenient-to-put-back-together parts? Why isn't one of these parts thrown into a volcano? Shipped to the arctic circle? Dropped into the Marianas Trench? Snuck aboard a satellite headed for orbit (I think the Council would have that sort of pull, if they chose to exercise it)?

It always bugs me that it takes me barely two minutes to tell the characters a half dozen ways they could have avoided the bad guy getting his power back that should have easily occurred to them (or their proxies). I mean, surely one of The Judge's parts would have been locked away in the Council's own vaults where they could have come up with a more permanent solution to get rid of it by now over the centuries? Who has been in charge of acquisition of dangerous demon parts over there, anyway?!

Buffy immediately tells them that this is Dru, which Angel has already reached as well. It appears that her dreams of her being alive were in fact Slayer-dreams. She tells them that the vampires she just fought were Spike's men (as she recognized Dalton). Giles tells them they have to get the arm out of Sunnydale.

Jenny pipes up with Angel's name. She tells the confused Buffy that Angel has to take it away to protect it, but Buffy suggests she can do that fine. Jenny tells her she can't just disappear for months, just raising Buffy's anxiety level, as Angel agrees with Jenny that he has to travel away - perhaps for months - in order to find a suitable hiding place.

Buffy asks about when he has to go, and he replies immediately. He'll slip aboard a freighter out of Sunnydale's nearby shipping harbor (NO - I am not going to get into this shows utter lack of consistency when it comes to geography of Sunnydale. This whole town just teleports around by a few miles hither and fro and nobody notices it or remembers where it used to be... it's a Hellmouth thing). Buffy whines it's her birthday (ugh, too bad!) and then Jenny pops her face in their two shot to offer Angel a helpful ride to the docks (ugh, could wipe the relieved smile at getting Angel seperated from Buffy off your face!).

Commentary: Yeah, I kvetch -- but I love this scene and the way that Jenny is manipulating the situation to honor her job to keep Buffy and Angel apart, while at the same time not being evil-bitch about it. I mean, considering the situation, this is a real plan to stop whatever Dru wants with reassembling The Judge, so it is just happy coincidence that it also servers her people's purpose. It's easy to hate Jenny here though, because we're not hip to the whole Angel/Angelus thing yet, so we don't know WHY these two lovebirds can't see one another. It makes the gypsies just look small and petty (which they are) because we don't know the devastating effects of breaking Angel's curse.

Scene 24: At Dru and Spike's factory, Drusilla is very, very displeased with the cowering Dalton for losing her arm-in-a-box (every girl should have one!).

Dru takes off Dalton's glasses and crushes them under her shoe. She then tells him she wants him to make a wish, so she can blow out the candles... by which she means, driving her fingernails into his eyes (Did she pick that one up from The Master, you think?). Spike suggests giving him a chance to redeem himself, first, as their bookworm vampire is one of the few they have that at least has some intelligence. Dalton swears he'll get Dru's box back and after a tense moment, she picks up his crushed glasses, places them back on his face and says chipperly, "Okay".

She then pats him on his head and tells him to 'hurry back, then'.

Commentary: I've always felt a bit bad for Dru's minions. How can you serve a master who is always going loopy on you and whose moods are always whiplashing around? Poor, Dalton. Of course, he's a fiend, so he has to be dusted - but I kind of like him, anyway.

Scene 25: At the docks, Buffy and Angel have a protracted, maudlin, good-bye scene with lots of tears and such & such.

Angel gives Buffy the Claddagh ring and we all swoon.

Angel is just about to tell Buffy that he loves her true, when Spike's vampires drop down from cargo ship netting and break up the romantics. There is much fisticuffing.

Scene 26: While Buffy and Angel are distracted, Dalton grabs the arm-crate and makes a run for it. Angel tackles him, but he plays keep-away by having another vampire snatch up the crate and continue running with it. In the meanwhile, Buffy takes some nasty shots to the face from the vampire she's fighting and he ends up tossing her off of the pier into the ocean below.

This, unfortunately, distracts Angel from retaining ownership of The Judge's arm and he jumps off into the water to get to Buffy and make sure she's okay.

Scene 27: In the library, Giles frets that Buffy should be back already, but Willow suggests she probably needs some time to pull herself together.

Xander is, well, a jerk. He's naturally very happy to know that Angel will be on his way out of town. But, then Buffy comes in wearing a different outfit and dried to report that she and Angel were ambushed and the box was retrieved by the bad guys.

Giles fills in that The Judge's touch can burn the humanity out of people and that no one but the truly evil have ever survived the process. A few jokes are made, but the Scooby Gang get with the assembling and decide to stay all night researching on where Dru could be holding up with The Judge.

Scene 28: Hours later, Xander is frustrated as he's re-reading volumes and hasn't found anything useful. Willow is in bliss about how Oz handled the whole vampire thing, which Xan teases her about, but she's all happy-face and it makes him happy for her (although, he's still a bit put out over Cordy not wanting to go public with their relationship, obviously).

Giles goes to point out something to Angel, but whispers a 'shhh', as they see Buffy has fallen asleep nearby.

Scene 29: Meanwhile, that sleeping Slayer is having a Slay-dream: She's walking in a dimly lit, candle-lighted room. We can recognize that it is Dru and Spike's new abode by the flowery-vine covered high back chairs that Drusilla was complaining about earlier. But, Buffy doesn't see Dru and Spike -- she sees Jenny walking around the table.

Buffy sees the crates of Judge and she bends down to take a closer look. She's wearing a white nightgown type dress, which is never good, what with that whole sacrificial shorthand and all (see Prophecy Girl).

From above her, Drusilla calls down and warns her to keep her hands off of her presents. She has Angel in her grasp. She brings up a huge blade in order to slit his throat.

Buffy snaps awake in Giles' office, yelling Angel's name.

Scene 29: At Spike and Dru's, her vampire party is in swing. Spike rolls in with another Judge-crate and Drusilla is excited and happy as she slips the head into place where the rest of the crates have been stacked in an approximation of a humanoid shape in the room.

There is mystic glow-thing and hissing noises as the crates open up to reveal The Judge, now standing whole and animated.

Scene 30: Coming back from fade-out, The Judge and his assemblers isn't exactly happy tidings. He immediately accuses Spike and Drusilla of being too human with their feelings for one another. Dru is able to calm the situation by offering a 'party favor', which alas, turns out to be Dalton... his love of books dooms him, poor abused guy.

The Judge places his hand on Dalton's chest and the vampire combusts, sending Drusilla into little-girl squeals of delight, as if she'd just seen a particularly cool magic trick.

Scene 31: In the library, Buffy is racing around with Angel grabbing up supplies to head out. Giles asks her about the frenzy and she reports that her dream told her where Spike and Dru are. She and Angel are going to recon to see how far they've gotten with The Judge assembly, while the gang investigate the port, airports, the bus station and any other way they can think of that the crates might be shipped into town so they can intercept the pieces before they all get to Drusilla.

Scene 32: Sometime later, Buffy and Angel have snuck into the factory.

Commentary: Buffy is in her Giraffe pants from S1's "The Pack", which makes me weep a little.

They spy down on Dru's party, which seems really low-key and dull now that she's opened her present. Speaking of... Buffy tells Angel she saw this scene, just before they spot The Judge wander in. He senses Angel and Buffy's presence and points them out. They go to retreat, but are already cut off by Spike's minions.

They're quickly taken captive.

Scene 33: Buffy and Angel are hauled before Dru and Spike. Drusilla tells Buffy that her arrival is delicious and that "I'd only dreamed you'd come".

Commentary: Now, isn't that interesting? Buffy and Dru, it appears, somehow connected through dreaming. I wonder why this wasn't used again, because it would be fascinating to see a shared dream between Buffy and Drusilla with each having a differing point of view of the events therein. Unfortunately, this passes without any sort of comment.

Angel tries for the "take me, not her thing" which Spike shoots down, clarifying that this isn't an "instead of" situation... more of an "and" type of deal. Dru chooses Buffy to go first in the Judge's grip, so that Angel has to watch her die.

The Judge does the slow-villain-outstretched-hand thing toward Buffy, I guess to enjoy the suspense. But, as we know, drawing out the moment of evil triumph is usually self-defeating, as it is here.

Buffy uses the leverage of her vampire captors to bring her feet up and kick The Judge away. At the same time, Angel breaks free and yanks on chains holding television monitors stacked on the wall down, crashing into The Judge and opening a hole in the floor into the sewer tunnel under their feet.

They leap down.

Dru sends minion one and two after them.

Scene 34: Buffy and Angel have ducked behind a door to a side tunnel and Dru's minions walk past them. They then climb up a ladder out into the park, where a storm had started.

Crawling out into the heavy rain, they take off for Angel's apartment until they can come up with a plan to stop The Judge.

Scene 35: At Angel's apartment, he gives her dry clothing and suggests she get under the covers to warm up. As she takes off her overtop, though, she grimaces and hisses in pain.

Angel comes to inspect her injury, even though she tries to tell him it isn't bad. His cold hands against her cold shoulders spark off the sexual tension that these two have been dealing with over the last year. And sitting so close to one another... well... things... progress.

Angel tells Buffy that he can't stop his feelings and she admits to the same thing. And with his almost having left for who-knew-how-long and his own words on the docks about them not knowing what the cards are going to deal, Buffy takes the initiative and starts an intense session of make-out, with her mind obviously made up that this is The Moment.

We fade to White-Out.

Scene 36: Fading back in from white-out, we see Buffy and Angel lying together in his bed under the blankets. Outside, a storm still rages and as a burst of lighting and thunder claps, Angel sits up with a pained gasp.

As Buffy sleeps on, Angel gets dressed and stumbles out into the rain and stormy weather....

Commentary: Yes... why? Why did they have David get fully dressed in this scene? I get the network-nudity ban thing, but he had shorts on when he pulled himself out of the bed. I don't understand why that wasn't enough. Unless the silk boxers were just too tight and it didn't adequately cover the shape of his dinger -- but even then, he could have just come out in a pair of pants. The dress jacket was a bit much, considering that he apparently managed to get dressed, while suffering whatever is going on, without waking the slumbering Slayer or setting off her danger-sense. As much as I love the plot arc we're starting here, the execution of this scene is really silly -- like the exciting musical que going on though!

So, Angel stumbles out. He cries out to the storming heavens in pain, yelling for Buffy, who continues to slumber on.

"BUFFYYYYYYYY...," we hear as we cut to "To Be Continued"!

The Good: I love the shock-scene of Drusilla being in Buffy's hallway before it becomes obvious we're in a dream.

I LOVE the opening dream sequence and how it is all combining elements in an attempt to warn Buffy about the trouble to come.

I also LOVE the "Close Your Eyes" / Buffy-Angel romantic theme. I think it's the most beautiful piece of music created for BTVS.

I also love this script and the way that it is leads Buffy and Angel to the next level in their relationship, while the entire time - if you're paying attention - it is all but blatantly telling us that we're in for a load of hurt because Angel and Buffy love one another. It is just brilliantly woven.

That Oz/Willow scene where she works up the nerve to talk to him about going out is wonderful. I love Aly and Seth's chemistry.

The introduction of a mysterious past and ulterior motives for Jenny is both interesting and disturbing.

The Bad: Well, Angel's sudden realization that this is The Judge, based on an anonymous looking armored arm is a bit ridiculous. Especially when you consider that none of is exposition mentions that he had actually fought against the demon, or that Drusilla had summoned him at some earlier point or any sort of personal history that would have made him memorable to Angel/Angelus.

I am a huge fan of the whole Buffy/Angel relationship, but sometimes it really tips into being mawkish. The scene on the dock is too much for my stomach.

I find the decision to make The Judge smurf-blue to be an unfortunate choice. It really impacts our ability to take him seriously, especially in this episode where his full powers aren't immediately accessible to him. He just looks goofy and funny.

Other Thoughts: There is also the usual issue, as well, as to how the Judge's parts are gathered so relatively easily, despite his danger.

I don't know why exactly, but it must have something to do with the actor - I really liked Dalton the bookworm-researcher vampire.

Obviously, the thought of Angel suffering some sort of pain, but managing to get fully dressed before he stumbles out of his apartment into the rain to scream Buffy name, instead of just waking her up and telling her something is wrong is fully ridiculous. The exciting music and the shock that something has gone wrong just after their night together can carry us over it, but that doesn't make it any less silly.

The Score: I really, really like this episode, especially when it is watched in one sitting with Innocence. Even with it a standalone, though, I love the way that it weaved Buffy and Angel's coming together and its leaving us hanging with what has gone wrong:

4.0 out of 5

continued in "Innocence"

Tags: buffy season 2 reviews, recommendation

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