This is the first of the show’s flashback episodes, giving us a glimpse of significant moments in Angel’s, Drusilla’s, and Buffy’s past. Whistler narrates this episode, giving the whole thing a sense of inescapable destiny. He was actually supposed to move to Angel, but the actor wasn’t able to do the show, so the writers created the character of Doyle instead. I’m glad, since I think Whistler might have been too stuffy for a show that was already pretty dark.
We see Angel’s beginnings as a drunken lout all too willing to take Darla’s offer to show him the world. Right before she kills him, she says, “Close your eyes,” which will parallel Buffy’s words in the next episode. The scene showing Angel’s initial confusion after being cursed also sets up that scene.
Watching the scenes with Buffy being told she is the Slayer, after now having seen the (terrible) movie and read the comic, makes me wish they would have remade the movie with Sarah Michelle Gellar and Joss Whedon’s orginal screenplay. I’m curious to see what the remake they’re doing now will be like. Even though there’s been huge fuss about Joss not being involved, it sounds like it’s more his busy schedule than their outright snubbing. I know it won’t hold a candle to the TV series, but it has to be better than the original movie, right?
I love how Xander acts out the battle in the cemetery with fish sticks and a toothpick – “Die! Die! Die! Aah! Mother!” And Oz is back, though only for that brief scene. Kendra returns too, and meets her untimely end (due to Drusilla’s hypnotic “cheating”).
Drusilla: At the museum. A tomb… with a surprise inside.
Angelus: You can see all that in your head?
Spike: No, you ninny. She read it in the morning paper.
Only one more episode before Spike’s gone for nearly all of season 3. 🙁 But what is with vampires, always wanting to reawaken demons? And if vampires weren’t supposed to suffer in this demon dimension, is his soul the only reason why Angel will?
Spike: It’s a big rock. I can’t wait to tell my friends. They don’t have a rock this big.
I hate the argument the group gets into over whether to restore Angel’s soul. The numbers seem simple – having Angel fighting for them is better than having him fight against them or simply dusted. And I don’t get why Xander’s more mad than Giles about Angel’s role in Jenny’s death, unless it’s not really about that. Yes, Xander was jealous of Angel from the get-go, but maybe it’s because Angelus went after Willow first. And he killed the last person who tried to restore his soul.
This episode is one of my top five favorite Buffy episodes. I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve watched it. So many aspects are completely amazing, and it finished off what many consider the best season of Buffy perfectly.
The only two things I didn’t like about this episode were the stunt actors for the sword fighting scene (after seeing it several times it became extremely easy to see which shots weren’t of David Boreanaz and Sarah Michelle Gellar) and Xander deliberately giving Buffy the wrong message from Willow. I can understand his motivation a little, being that he didn’t know about the whole “needing to kill Angel to stop Acathla” thing. He didn’t want Buffy to pull her punches while fighting Angelus, trying to buy time, which could get her killed. But I don’t think giving her the real message would changed what happened for the better. Best case scenario, Buffy would have been slightly more prepared for what she eventually had to do.
Everything Buffy has is stripped away, piece by piece, in this episode. Her fellow Slayer is dead. She’s on the run from the police. Her mother kicks her out of the house. The principal expels her. And then, when her wildest dreams come true and Angel is restored, she has to run a sword through him.
The music on this episode is breathtaking. Christophe Beck really outdid himself. From “Waking Willow” to “Vision of Jenny,” he captures the moments perfectly, and then finishes with my favorite piece of the score from the entire series, “Close Your Eyes.” And Sarah MacLachlan’s “Full of Grace” ends the episode beautifully.
Even despite this being a serious dramatic episode, the dialogue is full of zingers, like when Buffy catches Whistler at Giles’ house:
Buffy: I have had a really bad day, okay? If you have information worth hearing, then I am grateful for it. If you’re gonna crack jokes, then I’m gonna pull out your ribcage and wear it as a hat.
Probably my favorite part of this episode is Spike and Buffy’s alliance. It’s hilarious that the first action Spike does for the side of good is beating up a police officer. And I love Buffy’s shocked face when she realizes Spike actually wants to help save the world.
Buffy: Okay. You do remember that you’re a vampire, right?
Spike: We like to talk big, vampires do. ‘I’m going to destroy the world.’ That’s just tough guy talk. Strutting around with your friends over a pint of blood. The truth is, I like this world. You’ve got… dog racing, Manchester United. And you’ve got people. Billions of people walking around like Happy Meals with legs. It’s all right here. But then someone comes along with a vision. With a real passion for destruction. Angel could pull it off. Goodbye, Picadilly. Farewell, Leicester Bloody Square. You know what I’m saying?
And even more hilarious is Spike and Buffy trying to come up with a cover story for Buffy’s mom:
Spike: What, your mum doesn’t know?
Joyce: Know what?
Buffy: That I’m, uh… in a band. A-a rock band with Spike here.
Spike: Right. She plays the, the triangle.
Spike: Drums, yeah. She’s hell on the old skins, you know.
Joyce: Hmm. And what do you do?
Spike: Well, I sing.
Knowing how well Spike gets along with Joyce in later episodes (probably because she reminds him of his own mother), even their moments sitting alone in silence seem humorous. I was a little surprise that Buffy trusted Spike enough to leave him alone in a room with her mother. But it offered the opportunity for this:
Joyce: Have we met?
Spike: Um… you hit me with an ax one time. Remember? Uh, ‘get the hell away from my daughter.’
I love how Giles holds up so admirably under torture:
Angelus: You know, I can stop the pain. You’ve been very brave… but it’s over. You’ve given enough. Now let me make it stop.
Angelus: Just tell me what I need to know.
Giles: In order… to be worthy…
Giles: You must perform the ritual… in a tutu.
(Angelus glares at him.)
Angelus: All right. Someone get the chainsaw.
Spike: Now, now, don’t let’s lose our temper.
Angelus: Keep out of it, sit ‘n’ spin.
Spike: Look, you cut him up, you’ll never get your answers.
Angelus: Since when did you become so levelheaded?
Spike: Right about the time you became so pig-headed. You have your way with him, you’ll never get to destroy the world. And I don’t fancy spending the next month trying to get librarian out of the carpet. There are other ways.
And then comes the terrible, poignant ending. I think I could watch it a hundred times and not get tired of it. And the little “Grr. Argh.” Mutant Enemy monster adds a final touch when he says instead, “Ooh, I need a hug.”