Janes (a True Stan) and Nerdy Spice (a New Fan) are watching all of Buffy together and comparing notes.
Season 2, Episode 13 “Surprise”
It’s Buffy’s seventeenth birthday, and she’s having nightmares that Drusilla is back and trying to kill Angel. Buffy is freaked, but at first Angel (and a little bit Giles) totally doubt her and convince her not to trust her intuition. Why don’t these dudes realize that Buffy is just going to be right most of the time and just stop getting in her way?!
But Buffy has more important distractions on her mind, namely, her growing urge to bang Angel. Willow reminds Buffy to “seize the day,” like Buffy once told her to. Speaking of banging, Willow and Oz agree to go on a date to the surprise birthday party that Willow and the rest of the Scoobs are throwing for Buffy. In contrast, Xander tries to get Cordelia to go publicly as his date, but she blows him off.
Of course, as we already knew, Buffy’s dreams are right: Drusilla and Spike are definitely still alive–only, weirdly, Drusilla is strong now but Spike is in a wheelchair with yucky burns all over his face. And they’re trying to resurrect this big blue machine called The Judge, which can zap people with just his mind and suck all the humanity out of them, by putting together a bunch of his body parts that were separately buried because that’s the only way to keep him from killing people (you know, except for the other way that Buffy is going to discover by the end of the episode).
Also there’s a big twist!! Ms. Calendar is actually from the Romani family that has cursed Angel, and has been sent here to watch him and keep him from being happy. We learn this because her uncle appears to call her out on not doing a good job, and she defends him by saying he saved her life. But her uncle doesn’t go for this, and tells her even one minute of happiness from being with Buffy is too much. This came as a big surprise to me! I definitely thought it was possible that Ms. Calendar was something evil when she first appeared, but after all these episodes I got lulled into complacency.
Buffy realizes that Dru and Spike must still be alive when the other parts of her dream start coming true. Then, when she shows up at her surprise party, she finds a few vampires outside carrying a box with the Judge’s arm on it. Buffy defeats them and brings the box inside, only to have the arm leap out at her and try to choke her! Giles knows what the Judge is and they realize that Spike and Dru are trying to reassemble it. So Ms. Calendar cleverly suggests that Angel be sent out of town to protect the arm… by boat, since he can’t fly and risk being exposed to daylight. This will involve Buffy and Angel being separated for many months.
Buffy brings Angel to the dock and they say a very sweet and sad good-bye. He gives her a claddagh ring with a heart on it. And then they’re attacked by more vampires! Buffy gets tossed into the water by one, and Angel jumps in after her like a big dummy, leaving the vampires to abscond with the box. Spike and Drusilla now have the Judge fully resurrected, and they watch him kill one of their friends for kicks.
Then Buffy and Angel, who went to the warehouse to find out how close Dru and Spike are to their goal, get caught and almost get killed by the Judge. Luckily, since the Judge is moving kinda slow these days, they get away by sneaking into the sewers. When they get back to Angel’s apartment (unclear why Dru doesn’t just bring the Judge there, since she knows where he lives), Angel tells Buffy he loves her and they Totally Do It. Happy birthday, Buffy! Only then, Angel wakes up in the middle of the night and runs out into the street and starts screaming. Uh-oh!
Notes from a New Fan:
- I laughed when Buffy saw Angel and started walking towards him across the room in slow-mo, West Side Story-style. Not so much because it’s cheesy (it was clearly a dream so it should be cheesy) as because it’s really hard to imagine anyone being that excited about Angel’s blank face and non-existent personality.
- In case you’re wondering, Bangel’s kissing noises have not gotten any less… noisy.
- I don’t know much about vampire sex except what I learned from hate-reading Twilight, but… before getting really attached to the idea of having sex with Angel, doesn’t Buffy have to figure out if he’s going to like, smush her in the heat of passion? Or is it OK because she sometimes has super strength too?
- Aww, I like Willow’s big smile when she talks to Oz.
- I don’t get why Spike has a burned face and is in a wheelchair. What happened to their healing abilities? I’m so confused. As I said to Keets and Janes the other day, I get the sense that the mythology of this show is, much like the Pirate Code, “more like guidelines than actual rules.”
- “Fine, I’ll spend, then we’ll grope, whatever,” Xander says. I would pick on him more for this, but since Cordelia just declared she wouldn’t date anyone who didn’t spend money on her, I think they’re both about even, as usual.
- I’m super confused about why Ms. Calendar acts all sketchy about taking Buffy to a different location, where there just happen to be vampires, but then it’s actually also where her surprise party is. After talking to Janes, I realize that it’s just a fakeout–Ms. Calendar really was trying to bring Buffy to her surprise party. Weird!
- Ms. Calendar like, pops up in between Buffy and Angel during their tearful good-bye to offer to drive Angel somewhere. Hold your horses, Ms. Calendar! Your excitement about your evil plan is showing!
- Xander’s mom doesn’t recognize his voice on the phone. Hee! I bet she spends all day listening to his annoying jokes and being like “I have no son. I have no son.” And she finally hypnotized herself into believing it.
- The show cuts from a closeup of Buffy hugging Angel to a closeup of Drusilla enjoying her Judge Resurrection party. I was wondering what they were trying to say–why Buffy and Drusilla would have a parallel drawn between them, other than having the hots for Angel of course–but then the Judge comments that Spike and Drusilla “stink of humanity”, i.e. of “affection and jealousy.” So maybe the point is that Drusilla is like Buffy because she loves her boyfriend the way Buffy loves hers.
- Spike is disappointed that Judge needs to touch people to kill them. “I thought you could just… zap,” he mutters. Heh. (Turns out once he kills a few people, his zapping powers will be fully charged again.)
- We continue the trend of having people (mainly Giles) try to mansplain Buffy’s job to her and being totally shown up when she is two steps ahead of them. In this case, Giles says that Buffy needs a plan to defeat Spike and Drusilla. Oh, gee, ya think? Obviously, Buffy has a whole plan all worked out. You go, Buffy.
- We also continue the trend of villains being so slow to reach for their victims that someone else has a chance to put a very complicated Rube Goldberg machine in place to kill them. In this case it’s the Judge, who reaches for Buffy like he’s a kid trying not to touch a marshmallow, giving her the time to kick him and Angel the time to cut the chain on some contraption that falls from the ceiling and crushes him.
- Whoa! Angel and Buffy had sex! It’s a little awkward that it took place on Buffy’s seventeenth birthday, like we could have conveniently forgotten that she’s kinda underage if it hadn’t been for the fact that they kept talking about it in this same episode? On the other hand, this was one of the few times I really believed their love/chemistry/attraction/whatever. She’s a really good actress.
Notes from a True Stan:
- Just seeing the title of this episode makes me sad.
- David Boreanaz and SMG have relatively good kissing chemistry, but good God–why can’t they stop smacking??
- I know I complained about this before, but why is Angel pooh-poohing Buffy’s clearly prophetic dream just because Drusilla was buried by a crumbling church! That doesn’t kill vampires!
- Buffy and Willow talking about whether Buffy’s ready for sex when they’re barely able to say the word “sex” out loud is too real. When my best friend decided she wanted to have sex for the first time in high school, we all talked about it breathlessly in English class, and one of our other friends brought in an honest-to-God magazine quiz to make sure she was “ready.”
- In all seriousness, seventeen is certainly old enough to decide that you want to have sex, but not old enough for a 241-year-old to feel okay about having sex with her. Just say no, Angel.
- Willow’s purple hat is–kind of adorable! [pic]
- “Kalderash” is apparently a real Romani subgroup, but that doesn’t make this whole magical-gypsy plotline any less awkward.
- I love when Giles still wants to have Buffy’s surprise birthday party. She’s softening him up!
- I always laugh when Cordelia yells “Surprise!” Hee.
- This goodbye scene is so melodramatic (especially considering he doesn’t even leave!), but I loved it as a kid. Plus, Nerdy Spice and I are half-Irish, so this always made me really want a Claddagh ring.
- Again with the smacking!! Couldn’t they have fixed this in post-production or something??
- Okay, it’s cute and all, but did Angel really have to jump into the water? She’s a Slayer! She’ll be fine! Get the box!
- Xander’s greatest fantasy is to get super rich, take unhappy-future Buffy out for “prime rib,” and make her cry? That is so on-brand.
- The Judge is played by Brian Thompson, the same actor who played Luke in the pilot, because that voice!
- Ha, I love when Drusilla laughs at the Judge killing the nerdy vampire and squeals, “Do it again, do it again!” like a five-year-old.
- But also, the Judge can kill soul-less vampires? Weren’t Spike and Drusilla nervous about summoning him, then, especially since they “stink of humanity”? This never quite made sense to me.
- I love that Angel and Buffy get super wet (no pun intended) and have to take off their clothes not once, but twice this episode. The universe really wants them to have sex.
- I’m a grown-ass woman and I still tear up when Angel says “I love you” for the first time! I blame the Bangel theme.
- Yes, it’s not okay that she’s only seventeen, and Angel definitely should not have had sex with her. But, you know–squee!
Season 2, Episode 14 “Innocence”
Ugh. UGH. It’s so sad, even when I’m watching it for the 20th time.
We pick up right where we left off–after Bangel has sex for the first time, Angel wakes up in pain and runs outside, screaming. A woman finds him and tries to help, and he drains her blood and kills her. He returns to Spike and Drusilla, and they set the Judge on him, but the Judge can’t burn his humanity because there’s no humanity left. He’s lost his soul.
Meanwhile, Buffy wakes up by herself, and is justifiably rattled to find Angel gone. She drives herself crazy trying to find him and talk to him, and finally finds him in his apartment. Angel (now Angelus), doesn’t let on that he lost his soul, and instead inflicts as much cruelty on her as possible. He tells her that their night together proved she “has a lot to learn about men,” insists that sex isn’t a big deal and that she shouldn’t “make a thing out of it,” and then mocks her when she says she loves him and starts to cry. It’s brutal.
Angel goes to the school with the intent of killing the whole Scooby Gang, and nearly throttles Willow. Buffy comes just in time (I guess because she was already coming to the school to strategize about the Judge? Unclear) and saves them. They all start freaking out that they now have two Big Bads to fight, with some bonus emotional trauma. Angel confirms to Drusilla and Spike–who is still in a wheelchair and feeling left out–that he’s going to psychologically torture her as much as possible before killing her, like he did to Drusilla.
Buffy has one of her prophetic dreams (or just an insightful dream, I guess, since everything already happened), which helps her figure out that Ms. Calendar is somehow involved in all of this. She nearly throttles Ms. Calendar in front of Giles and her whole computer class, and Ms. Calendar confesses that she was “sent” to Sunnydale for the sole purpose of keeping Buffy and Angel apart. (Which doesn’t make a lick of sense, btw. Buffy and Angel have been together for like, a year, and Ms. Calendar has been there for all of it. Why didn’t she try to keep them apart before?) She also confirms that “one moment of true happiness” made Angel lose his soul, which makes for an awkward moment between Buffy and Giles. Poor Buffy.
Buffy then tells Ms. Calendar to take her to someone who could potentially curse Angel again, and Ms. Calendar takes her to her creepy uncle, but Angel has already murdered him in his apartment and written “Was it good for you too?” on the wall in blood. Buffy gets a look of steely resolve on her face and says, “I know what I have to do… Kill him.”
After all this, we still have the Judge to contend with, and all of the old books keep telling them that “no weapon forged” could ever kill him. (Seriously, the characters say that like, a hundred times.) Xander comes up with a plan to steal something from the local armory, and the gang goes to face off with the Judge, Angel, and Drusilla at the mall. (Why the mall? Eh, not sure. I think this episode aired near the holidays.) The Judge incinerates one poor holiday shopper, and then gets ready to massacre everyone else, until Buffy shoots him with a crossbow. He taunts her that “no weapon forged” can kill him (we get it!) and she says, “That was then–this is now” and takes out a freaking rocket launcher. He says, “What’s that?” and she blows him up with one shot. Hee!
The Scoobies collect the pieces while Buffy has her big showdown with Angel. She fights him half-heartedly at first, but then he goads her into giving it her all. She’s about to stake him, but she can’t bring herself to do it. He taunts her again, so she kicks him in the balls and says, “Give me time.” She thinks that Giles is going to scold her for not killing him–and, she implies, for having sex in the first place–but he tells her that it’s not her fault, and that she’ll only ever get his “support and respect.” Aw! What a great dad!
In the end, Buffy has a little birthday celebration with her mom where they eat cupcakes and watch the Shirley Temple movie “Stowaway.” Her mom asks her to make a wish on the candle, but Buffy sadly says she’ll just “let it burn,”
Notes from a New Fan:
- Angel, newly soulless, bites a lady’s neck and then blows out smoke, you know, to show us he’s really evil. Did he take a drag of a cigarette and then bite her while holding his breath? Or does he just breathe smoke now? [I was always confused too, but I think you’re supposed to think he actually breathed in the smoke from her throat, which is not how that works. –Janes]
- Oh, Buffy. When you’re sneaking in after staying out all night with your boyfriend, take off your shoes before trying to sneak upstairs!
- It bugs me that Buffy’s mom says she looks different. OK, she lost her virginity! There’s not some kind of “I’m a woman now” aura that women get after their first time. But so many teen shows seem to have this trope. It’s silly.
- Wait, so Buffy and Angel went off to have a romantic night together and forgot to tell the rest of the Scoobs that they’re alive?! Rude.
- Xander hears that Angel might be dead and yells (to Willow, who’s on the phone with Buffy), “Say hi for me.” What an ass.
- Is this the first time Xander finds out that Willow likes him? I mean, they almost kissed that one time, but I guess maybe he was too stupid to pick up on the fact that she wanted to do it again.
- This stuff about how Romani people consider vengeance “a living thing” and whatnot seems… kind of offensive.
- Xander gets extremely alarmed and announces, “I think I’m having a thought.” I’m not surprised that this would be an unfamiliar feeling for him.
- Once again, Angel is thwarted by his classic BTVS need to hold onto Willow and talk about his plan before actually killing her, giving Buffy (and Xander, I guess) time to defeat him.
- Xander calls Cordelia’s outfit trashy, when she has on a high-necked pastel yellow T-shirt, tucked into her skirt, with a matching cardigan tied around her shoulders. Wtf does he even mean? She could wear that to a luncheon at the country club.
- I like seeing Spike and Angel team up to defeat Buffy, knowing what happens later.
- The music that plays when Oz’s van drives up to the military base is amusing–very “climactic triumph at the end of a war movie,” which I suppose makes sense.
- Cordelia’s idea of a purposely “trashy” outfit is pants, a silver blazer, and a sparkly headband. What?!
- Oz’s speech about liking Willow is cute until he says, “Willow kissage.” Ew?
- Ooh, I get chills when Buffy stares at that horrible message from Angel and goes, “He’s only making it easier. I know what I have to do. Kill ‘im.” You go, girl!
- David Boreanaz is not any more convincing as an evil villain than he is as a tragic romantic hero, but at least he seems to be having way more fun.
- Aww, Giles tells Buffy all she’ll get from him is “support and respect.” I love that!!
Notes from a True Stan:
- Angelus has so much more charisma and swagger than Angel, literally from the first minute. You can tell David Boreanaz is having a blast. [Haha, I wrote almost the exact same thing–he’s obviously having so much fun! –Nerdy Spice]
- I hate, hate when people tell girls who just had sex for the first time that they “look different.” It only happens on TV shows (especially 90s WB shows), it’s sexist and weird, and it’s not a thing. […I also wrote this exact same thing. –Nerdy Spice]
- If we had a Buffy drinking game, we would definitely take a shot whenever Xander comes up with half-cocked, wildly unrealistic plans to “save” Buffy. STFU Xander.
- Cordelia’s little nose wrinkle when she says she wants to kiss but not make up is adorable. They are so cute together.
- Far be it from me to take Xander’s side, but Willow’s shaming reaction to Xander and Cordelia is way out of line. She’s being kind of a Nice Girl here.
- Is it weird that I find Angelus like… super sexy? I mean, yes, it is weird, but also kind of makes sense? Before this episode, you wouldn’t even know David Boreanaz was capable of smiling with his teeth.
- Wait, how did Ms. Calendar know that Buffy and Angel had sex? Was she like, peeping on them or something? This is so weird.
- My partner, who has seen the show before: “Why is Spike weakened again?” Me: “Because a church fell on him.” Partner: “But why is he in a wheelchair?”
- When Buffy curls up on her bed and cries, I always want to cry with her.
- This whole thing where Xander supposedly remembers his “army training” from that one time he was a soldier on Halloween is a hilariously transparent attempt to make him seem not-totally-useless.
- And after all that fanfare, Xander’s plan to get the rocket launcher is actually terrible. There’s no way a soldier would risk getting in trouble just because a stranger wants to get laid.
- I love that they had to come up with an excuse for this big climactic moment to not happen at the Bronze.
- Giles’ speech at the end is very sweet, but it’s almost ruined by her concession that she did “act rashly.” How? By having sex with her boyfriend?
- I love that this episode always lets Buffy act like a teenage girl, even as she’s stronger and steelier than we’ve ever seen her before. She cries in bed after getting dumped by her first boyfriend, and she cuddles with her mom on her birthday. This is what’s special about her as a character–that she can be a “normal” teenage girl and a bad-ass, and the two identities feed off of each other.
- In that same vein, I’ve seen some feminist backlash in recent years against the “guys turn into monsters after you put out” trope. While I see the perspective that this trope is gender essentialist, that was, and continues to be, a common experience among teenage girls. Nothing like that ever quite happened to me in high school, but versions of this phenomenon happened to enough of my friends that I was terrified of it, and this plotline felt extremely relatable.
Season 2, Episode 15 “Phases”
We’re back to Monster of the Week episodes, this time featuring a pretty gnarly-looking werewolf, who jumps out and attacks Xander and Cordelia while they’re parked somewhere secluded to make out. In Buffyverse, werewolves apparently prowl three nights a month–the night before the full moon, the night of the full moon, and the night after. So Giles and Buffy have to go out looking for the werewolf.
But there are two other villains in this episode that they have to contend with. One is a sexist werewolf hunter named Cain who thinks that it’s fine to kill the werewolf even though it’s a human the other 27 days of the month (a human who may have no idea they are even killing people for those 3 days).
The other is a human named Larry who likes to torment the less popular boys and sexually harass female students, including a nice, doomed young woman named Theresa. Unfortunately for him, Buffy is paired with him during self-defense class, and while she tries to act like a normal girl, as soon as he grabs her butt she throws him onto the ground hard. Hee! At first the gang is convinced that Larry must be the werewolf because of his personality issues and the hair on his back. But then they send Xander to try to relate to him based on Xander having been turned into a hyena at some point. The only problem is, Larry misunderstands Xander and thinks that… they’re both coming out of the closet to each other! Xander is understandably freaked, although frankly I suspect he’s less freaked about having tricked Larry into coming out when he wouldn’t have if he knew Xander was straight, and more freaked about having even one person think he’s gay. Because Xander sucks and is the worst. On the bright side, Larry turns into a nice guy and stops bullying girls because he’s accepted himself. Yay!
Also on the Baddies List for the week is Angel, who offers to walk Theresa home and then totally turns her into a vampire. At first they all think she was eaten by the werewolf, but then she comes to life as a vampire when Buffy is visiting her wake, and tells Buffy “hi” from Angel. What a jerk! (Angel, I mean.) As for Theresa, Buffy has to stab her with a piece of wood from her own funeral arrangement. This leads to a sad hug with Xander that seems in grave danger of leading to a kiss, though at the last minute Buffy leaves. YUCK! RUN AWAY, BUFFY! DON’T DO THIS!
Anyway, when Buffy tries to capture the werewolf and it gets away, Cain blames her for being a “girl.” This, combined with thinking that he killed Theresa after she failed to kill him, makes Buffy determined to kill him next time. Dark!
Meanwhile, Willow is wondering why Oz won’t kiss her. He, on the other hand, wakes up naked in the woods on the second morning and realizes he must be a werewolf, which apparently runs in his family. That night, Willow finally works up the courage to go make the first move while Oz is trying to lock himself up to avoid hurting anyone else. When she shows up, he runs out of time and becomes a werewolf and starts chasing her down the street, with Cain on his tail. Luckily, Buffy and Giles overpower Cain and shoot Oz with a tranquilizer dart. Then Willow and Oz agree that the small matter of him being a werewolf three nights a month doesn’t need to get in the way of their dating, and she kisses him. Awww! I know she’s going to turn out to be gay, but their storyline is really sweet.
Notes from a New Fan:
- Wow, the cheerleading mom stuck in a trophy has actually come back! Oz notices the trophy in the case and says it’s like her eyes are following him. [I love this–it’s so dark!! –Janes]
- I”m confused about the big bully who asks Oz to “fess up” how far he’s gotten with Willow. Is he bullying Oz because Oz is a geek, or because he thinks Oz shouldn’t go out with Willow, or because…? Well, whatever, at least we get to see Buffy flip the guy onto his ass.
- Buffy asks what kind of boy could resist Willow. “At last count, all of them. Maybe more,” says poor Willow. I feel ya, girl. I was definitely the Willow in high school.
- Poor Cordelia actually has to demand that Xander pay attention to her instead of (as he puts it) “yammering” about Buffy and Willow. And what do you know, there’s also some kind of yeti watching them from the woods! Uh-oh.
- They all think it was a werewolf but are they sure it’s not just a big possum? Because it pretty much looks like a giant possum to me.
- It’s impressive that the werewolf managed to knock down every single piece of furniture in the Bronze.
- So wait, how long is Angel going to be evil? I thought this was going to be like a one-episode dealio, but it seems like he’s just… permanently evil? That is a surprise.
- Aww, Angel ate Mary Beth from Dawson’s Creek! Too bad.
- Oh, I totally also didn’t know that Oz was the werewolf! That’s so crazy.
- So Oz goes home and calls his aunt to find out if his cousin is also a werewolf. Ooh, so he knows! I hope he locks himself in the book cage. We haven’t ineffectually locked anyone in that book cage for a few weeks, right?
- Ha, Willow gives Xander a harsh burn about how he used to be a hyena, that’s hilarious! And then Buffy calls him on his lie about how he didn’t remember anything about being a hyena… so many continuity points in this episode!
- Ew, was Buffy attracted to Xander for a second there? Buffy, nooooo. Angel has no personality, but that is way better than having a bad personality. [OMG right?? I am so confused by the sexual tension in that scene and think about it all the time. –Janes] [Oh, thank God. That means it probably doesn’t come back. —Nerdy Spice]
- It’s useful that Oz has werewolves in the family so he has a quaint little cardboard box full of bondage equipment readily available, huh?
Notes from a True Stan:
- Willow calls Cordelia a “skanky ho”! She’s kind of the worst sometimes.
- I like it much better when those two are hanging out together and complaining about how terrible Xander is. Cordy should have become a real third girlfriend!
- It’s Mary Beth! And people are randomly talking about how the full moon makes everyone crazy! Is this a Dawson’s episode?
- The werewolf costume is hilariously bad. Like cheap-Halloween-costume bad. [Yeah, at first I legit thought that they were going to turn out to be wrong that it was a werewolf, because it looks so much more like an overgrown possum. –Nerdy Spice]
- When Oz hears that no one was hurt by the werewolf, he says, “Gladness.” When I first watched this, I was too young to realize just how much pot he must be smoking.
- I get so angry when Xander brings up the hyena thing again. He tried to rape Buffy, and he sidesteps another opportunity to apologize and let her process it. He didn’t have control over himself! She would obviously forgive him! He’s just being a coward, because it’s convenient.
- And then he gets all weirded out about Larry being gay, because of course he does. He’s the WORST.
- I love how uncomfortable Willow sounds when she yells at Oz. Alyson Hannigan is such a good actress.
- The gender politics in this episode are… perplexing. Being a werewolf is supposed to be a metaphor for male puberty, and by extension men being “animals,” but Oz is actually moving too slowly for Willow’s taste. Okay, that’s a cute subversion I guess, but with the Larry nonsense, the werewolf is also supposed to be a metaphor for homosexuality? I can’t quite parse it.
- Love that Willow kisses Oz first, and they’re very cute, but “3 days out of the month, I’m not so fun to be around, either,” is one of my least favorite Buffy lines.