This episode’s opening dream sets just the right amount of foreboding and mystery for the episode. I love how Willow’s interaction with the monkey directly ties into her and Oz’s earlier conversation – she’s speaking French, and saying that the hippo stole the monkey’s pants.
I’m surprised Drusilla didn’t show up much in later seasons of Buffy and Angel. She’s a great villain – creepy and crazy and psychic and hypnotic. Definitely not the sort of person you want to meet in a nightmare, let alone for real.
Finding out Jenny’s past adds an eerie twist to the surprise birthday party – where is Jenny really taking Buffy? And is it just me, or does her uncle’s outfit and mannerisms seem very similar to Merrick’s in the Buffy movie?
This is the first of the “birthday” episodes, and probably the most significant, as Buffy faces losing Angel, at Drusilla’s hand or the Judge’s, or for months when he plans to leave. And in the end, she does lose him, in likely the worst way possible. How could the sex education class in the previous episode miss the consequence of “having your boyfriend lose his soul”?
“Surprise” also marks Oz’s initiation into the Scooby Gang, even though he doesn’t quite join in on research parties just yet. I love his calm response to the fact that there are vampires. Angel’s help researching the Judge has a touch of pensiveness, knowing this will be his last happy interaction with the gang for quite a while.
Giles: Still, best to be, uh, on the alert. If Drusilla is alive, it could be a fairly…cataclysmic state of affairs.
Xander: Again, so many words! Couldn’t you just say, ‘we’d be in trouble’?
Giles: Go to class, Xander.
Xander: Gone. Notice the economy of phrasing: ‘gone.’ Simple. Direct.
Giles: No, you won’t. We’re having a party tonight.
Xander: Looks like Mr. Caution Man, but the sound he makes is funny.
Giles: Buffy’s surprise party will go ahead as we planned. Except I won’t be wearing the little hat.
Willow: But Buffy and Angel…
Giles: May well be in danger… as they have been before, and, I imagine, will be again. One thing I’ve learned in my tenure here on the Hellmouth is that there is no good time to relax. And Buffy’s turning 17 just this once, and she deserves a party.
Xander: You’re a great man of our time.
Willow: And anyway, Angel’s coming. So she’ll be able to protect him *and* have cake.
I find it interesting that the Judge can kill on touch those with humanity, and some vampires have it (Spike, Drusilla, and Dalton) and some don’t (as we’ll discover in the next episode). Why is that? Was having that spark of humanity what made Spike able to change in later seasons?