In the tenth episode of the third season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel’s past returns to haunt him, and the Scoobies are forced into dealing with this. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Buffy.
Okay, before I get into this, I need to say a few things:
- AHAHAHAHAHA I LOVE ANGEL’S ACCENT. IT’S SO AWFUL THAT IT STARTS BEING BEAUTIFUL ONCE YOU THINK ABOUT IT.
- Oh my god, David Boreanaz looks AWFUL with facial hair. This is the funniest cold open this show has ever given us.
- All of the snow in this episode isn’t even close to looking real, so if you imagine that instead, the people who made this show did not care to be realistic, this is suddenly the best use of fake snow in the history of modern television.
- That’s all I have to make fun of.
- You know why?
- HOLY FUCK WHAT DID I JUST WATCH WHY DOES THIS SHOW INSIST ON FUCKING ME UP.
What an emotional, gorgeous, and intense episode of television. There are just so many things that happen here that fill me with feelings and thoughts and sadness and oh my god what the hell. Let’s split this up by character!
Stop it. Stop it. Can this just be a guidebook provided to all people ever about how to approach this issue? Like, more so than the last episode, Willow understands that this really isn’t about her, that Oz has to come to terms with their relationship in order to begin forgiving her. Sure, she does think about how this affects her, but her entire role here is one that concedes the fact that Oz was the one who was truly hurt in this situation. She’s all about forgiveness, as she said, so when Oz shows up and appears ready to talk to her, she’s quick to try and show him this.
What’s so interesting to me about this is that I found it realistic that Willow would essentially overthink this entire process. That’s what she does. Hell, that’s what I do. She’s a person who obsesses over the tiny details of everything because she considers herself a scholar of sorts. She treats her attempt at earning Oz’s trust in the same way. She’ll use logic. She’ll give an overwrought presentation. She’ll think of every possible rebuttal, anticipate them all, and give Oz perfection. So watching her act this out is just so believable to me. Whedon so completely gets this character he’s created, and Alyson Hannigan proves to us that she does, too. IT’S JUST SO WONDERFUL TO ME.
But Oz has never been about perfection, and that’s what she misjudges. He’s about feeling. He’s about the now. He appreciates the dynamic of small moments, and he wants that sort of honesty to carry their relationship. While he’s still hurt by what Willow did, he’s willing to try again, and there’s not a set process that she can abide by to repair things. I think that’s the point of the scene at her house. Well, first of all, it’s fucking hilarious. When Barry White’s “Can’t Get Enough of Your Love, Babe,” kicks in, I had to cover my mouth to stop myself from bursting out laughing in a coffee shop. It’s so Willow to do this! Yet my favorite part of that scene is Oz saying that he gets the message. Even if he rejects her sexual advance, he recognizes what she is trying to do. She took Buffy’s advice earlier and put Oz first. Perhaps literally so, but Oz recognizes that she is clearly trying to show him that she cares about him first.
Y’all, I just have so many feels for Oz/Willow. WHERE IS MY VERSION OF OZ IN THIS WORLD?????
I kind of like Xander a lot in this episode??? First of all, Cordelia’s line about his parents was just…what the fuck? What the fuck? I assume that has to be true. We’ve never seen Xander’s parents at all, and I don’t think we know much at all about his home life. Is this what I’ve been missing this whole time? Oh god, I’m interested to see more, but it kind of explains a lot about the guy?
Anyway, for real, that moment he steps into Giles’s office to tell Buffy that he’s going to help her is legit my favorite moment of his in the whole goddamn series. (So far, I mean.) I love that he’s like, “Look, I’ve been a bit of an asshole, but you’re my friend. I am here for you.” And then I swoon because that is the Xander I want to see more often? The best part is that he commits to this. He helps her! And he doesn’t back down!
Oh god, he literally slept in his backyard on Christmas Eve. WHY IS THIS SUCH A TRAGEDY TO ME? Okay, I need a Xander-centric episode explaining this soon.
Stop it, Buffy. Buffy, what are you doing to my heart? Whedon, who knew you had the capacity to write really adorable and touching storylines that aren’t about crushing my heart? I know her role in this episode is very small. I also knew she was lying about the “party” she was supposed to go to. I expected her to show up at Buffy’s house. Do I care that this was obvious? No. No, I do not. I dig that character, and sometimes, there’s a reason an archetypical plot exists: BECAUSE IT’S REALLY FUCKING GOOD. So yeah, Faith, you can come over for Christmas Eve dinner all you want and we’ll talk about hot boys and sexual conquests and everything will be just perfect.
Thank you, Whedon, for refusing to ignore the fact that any interaction with Angel is going to make Giles feel awful. Thank you for giving him anger. Thank you for respecting his fury and sadness in this episode. It hurts to watch it, I admit. I know that. I know that Giles is slightly unsatisfied with his life because he misses Jenny Calendar. I also know that you are slightly evil for bringing her back in a way that Giles can’t experience. Still, you showed us a portrait of Giles that was heartbreaking and loving. The fact that Giles puts aside his own distaste for Angel to help him out is just too much for me to handle. That man cares so much. Also, he is really kind of amazing with a crossbow? Okay, I know that’s not the point of that scene, but I can’t help it.
Sorry, I kind of adore him now? I don’t have anything substantive to say about him. It was nice that he wished them Merry Christmas!
Okay, bad facial hair and accents aside, I was just blown away by Whedon’s story in “Amends.” I believed that this was initially purely going to exist as a way for the show to address Angel’s past head-on. I totally fell for the idea that the Bringers existed to punish Angel and to make us examine the line between Angel and Angelus. It’s still a moral gray area for me, though I was pleased to see that Angel himself didn’t want to fight Giles on the idea that he shouldn’t be blamed for what he’s done. I think he understands that he hurt those around him, even if it was a demon inside his body doing it. He’s not going to tell Giles that his anger is unjustified.
He does take issue with the “punishment” he perceives he’s suffering at the hands of the entity that haunts him. Like Angel, that’s what I thought its purpose was. It made the events of his past real again so he could see what he’d done to people. I didn’t understand why this was happening to him, and I couldn’t understand why it was necessary. The dude just spent like half a year in hell! I think that’s a whole lot of suffering, don’t you? (I do remember that factoid that time passes differently there, right? Or in other dimensions? So now I’m curious. How long was it for Angel there?)
I, of course, did not realize what was happening until the episode basically told me what was going on. It was right when the apparition of Jenny Calendar comforts Angel and says it doesn’t want to cause Angel pain. It was just trying to show him who he was. I mean, the very idea is kind of messed up, isn’t it? Like, HERE IS A MOMENT FROM YOUR PAST WHERE YOU WERE AN AWFUL CREATURE. Look how good you were at being evil. So this is the power that brought him out of hell? The First Evil wanted to compliment Angel on his evil??? The dude can’t even catch a break when he is RETRIEVED FROM THE DEPTHS OF HELL.
I didn’t think The First’s plan would work until I stopped and realized how genius it was. Angel’s past was brought before him to show him that time and time again, he found ways to totally and completely ruin people. This wasn’t just about him doing shitty things. He ruined lives, possibly hundreds of times. It’s an attack on his identity because it forces him to start to think about how his actions define him as a person. Can he escape what he’s done, or is it always going to be a part of who he is?
After much brooding and pained consternation, Angel comes to the conclusion that he is what he has done, and there’s no way around it for him. Ugh, that scene in Buffy’s bedroom is just horrifying to watch. JENNY I LOVE YOU SO MUCH AND WHY DO YOU COME BACK TO THE SHOW JUST FOR THIS. I just want Jenny back so badly, but Whedon hates joy.
Angel resolves that the only way to avoid destroying those he cares about is to rid the world of his presence, and that’s when this show gives us the weepiest scene ever. I mean that as a compliment. Just so many tears in five minutes. Oh my god, I love it. I love the writing for their lines, I love Sarah Michelle Gellar’s acting, and hell, I even love how utterly cheesy it is that the sun doesn’t come up because there’s a freak snowstorm. Also, this:
“Strong is fighting. It’s hard and it’s painful and it’s every day. It’s what we have to do, and we can do it together, but if you’re too much of a coward for that, then burn.”
Yeah, holy shit, this is so amazing to me. I love that Whedon gives Buffy this moment to remind Angel that he hurt her, too, and that even despite this, she still loves him. I mean, seriously, how is this show real? How is this real life???
I don’t know that it’s confirmed or anything, but it seems that Buffy and Angel might give their relationship another try. At the very least, the out-of-nowhere snow fall convinces Angel that perhaps he should live another day. I don’t know how the two can navigate a relationship when Angel isn’t allowed to be happy, but I appreciate the emotional end to this episode. That’s some damn fine writing, Whedon. Also, I am fully expecting this nice moment to last maybe five episodes. MAYBE.
Death Count: None. For once! Total: 30?