Review by Mikelangelo "MikeJer" Marinaro
Posted by MikeJer on October 25, 2005Writer: Marti Noxon
Director: Michael Lange
This is a retrospective review and may contain spoilers from anywhere in the series. Read at your own peril.
A powerful and compelling two part romantic tragedy that will go down in history as a classic. These episodes also completely change the tone and the scope of what this series is going to do from now on. BtVS has just went from a fun show with a handful of standout episodes to groundbreaking and spellbinding television. This is superb material with a masterful setup and a grand slam finale. Where "What's My Line? Pt. 1" (2x09) and "What's My Line? Pt. 2" (2x10) failed, these episdoes succeed. It is exhilarating to watch them each and every time! I have a few minor complaints that rob it from being a 100, but by and large this and "Innocence" (2x14) are absolutely perfect.
It begins with BtVS's creepiest scene yet. Buffy is dreaming that she is walking down the hallway outside her bedroom. While she is walking Drusilla starts walking right behind her in that black outfit she was wearing at the end of "What's My Line? Pt. 2" (2x10), with blood dripping down her mouth. This scene always gives me the goosebumps. Buffy proceeds to open a door which leads into The Bronze where a somewhat surreal song is playing in the background. She walks by Willow who is sitting at a table with a monkey (remember, all monkeys are French!), and then Buffy spots Angel and smiles. They exchange some romantic glances when Drusilla appears out of nowhere behind Angel and stakes him. There's a beautiful shot here where Buffy and Angel's hands are trying to touch each other as Angel's hand then body slowly disintegrates away. Buffy is in shock and Drusilla says, "Happy birthday Buffy." She then wakes up in panic. What a haunting introduction dream! I love it!
The Buffy and Angel romance is propelled into full heat mode now. They even have a theme song for their love which I think is perfect. Buffy heads to Angel's place first thing in the morning after waking up from her nightmare to see if he's alright. Angel tries to sweetly reassure her that there isn't a problem. They kiss a bunch and the scene ends with Buffy saying "I like seeing you at bedtime" out of context. This stirs up some heat, though, and gets the hormones running a little wild. So Buffy finally heads to school and tells Willow everything that happened. Willow's all cute and wide-eyed saying "woah" over and over again after hearing Buffy admit that she thinks Angel and her are going to sleep together soon. All of this stuff is setting up the fact that Buffy is preparing herself to give up her virginity to Angel, and is handled very well by SMG.
While Buffy and Angel are in hormone land, Oz and Willow are beginning to bud into a couple which is accomplished through the wonderfully cute scene outside. This relationship really begins, though, in the next episode. I complained in the last review that if the Xander and Cordelia relationship didn't move beyond groping in broom closets I'd grow tired of it. Well, fortunately Xander steps up and tries to convince Cordelia to go to Buffy's surprise birthday party as a 'couple.' Cordelia unfortunately shuts him down, but at least Xander is trying to mature this relationship.
Also getting a surprising amount of development is Jenny Calendar. We find out that she's not just a Computer Science teacher, but also a member of the same gypsy tribe that originally cursed Angel. It turns out she was sent to Sunnydale to make sure Angel keeps suffering. This revelation is handled perfectly. At first it looks like Jenny's going to turn completely against the group just because her uncle showed up, but I'm happy to say this show isn't stupid, so that doesn't happen. Instead we get a person torn between her obligation to her people and her obligation to her friends. She does what she can to separate Buffy from Angel by taking advantage of the opportunity to send Angel away with The Judge's arm, but Angel would have been the likely person to do this task even if Jenny hadn't suggested it right away. Aside from this, though, she really doesn't want to hurt Buffy nor does she know what will happen if Buffy gives Angel a moment of true happiness.
The surprise birthday party at The Bronze was fun. The gang is trying so hard to give Buffy a nice and normal party but the vampires outside ruin the whole atmosphere. Then The Judge's arm really solidifies her failed party. This leads to the romantic moment on the docks, which seemed overly sappy, but once you've seen "Innocence" (2x14) you realize that all this love talk makes what happens next so devastating. The ring Angel gives to Buffy, though, is genuinely romantic.
All of this quickly leads to their encounter with The Judge, which they barely escape from. They flee to Angel's place all wet. Things quickly get closer as Angel asks to look at a cut on her back. I love how Buffy is not sure whether or not to cover up her chest. After some tender touches the actors do the best they can exchanging lines like "I love you. I try not not but I can't stop" and "Me, me, too. I can't either." This whole scene is handled very well and comes across as both tender and pretty romantic. They both then bend down onto the bed and then the screen flashes. We see them sleeping happily in bed together when abruptly Angel gets up and runs outside screaming in pain. "To be continued." Quite the cliffhanger (though not if you have the DVDs)!
I do have a couple small complaints about this episode, though, first of which is Buffy saying "we never saw a body" while discussing Drusilla, who would be dust if she was dead. My only other problem is with The Judge. First of all, he looks dumb even though I'm very pleased Whedon makes fun of this in the next episode. Secondly, he respresents yet another dumb armageddon plot. They really overdo these in these first couple seasons. Luckily they make fun of them more in S3 and S4. Overall, though, this is quite a fantastic setup for the amazing "Innocence" (2x14).
Minor Pros/Cons (+/-)
QuotesOZ:I'm gonna ask you to go out with me tomorrow night. And I'm kinda nervous about it, actually. It's interesting.
WILLOW:Oh. Well, if it helps at all, I'm gonna say yes.
OZ:Yeah, it helps. It-it creates a comfort zone. Do you wanna go out with me tomorrow night?
WILLOW:(cringes and slaps her hand to her forehead) Oh! I can't!
OZ:Well, see, I like that you're unpredictable.
CORDELIA:Well, I'm chips and dips girl.
XANDER:Horrors! All that opening and stirring.
CORDELIA:And shopping and carrying.
GILES:Dreams aren't prophecies, Buffy. Y-y-y-you dreamt that the Master had risen, but you stopped it from happening.
XANDER:You ground his bones to make your bread.
BUFFY:That's true. Except for the bread part.
WILLOW:It's when everybody calls everybody else's mom and tells them they're staying at everyone's house.
BUFFY:Thus freeing us up for world saveage.
WILLOW:And all-night keggers! What, only Xander gets to make dumb jokes?
GILES:(whispers so as not wake Buffy) Seems Buffy needed some rest.
ANGEL:Yeah. She hasn't been sleeping well. Tossing and turning. (everyone looks at him) She told me. Because of her dreams?
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