Written by Joss Whedon
Directed by Joss Whedon

Perri's Review | SunSpeak

Perri's Review

Laides and gentleman, for your amusement and deafening, the Horsechicks of the Apocalypse present the 'Carol of the Meeps'. Or, as Mary Beth calls it, the Eeepenanny (chock full of eep, just a little bit of nanny). Trust Joss to torture us right up until the end of a Christmas episode.

Dublin, 1838: A Dickens Christmas and a frantic man walks down the street, looking behind him. But the danger comes from in front, when he is dragged into an alley. A familiar face stands over him -- Angelus. Apparently Daniel lost some money to him, and Angelus intends to collect in blood. His fangs sink into Daniel's neck -- and Angel wakes up, gasping.

The rest of the world is getting into the Christmas spirit, despite the unexptected heat wave hitting the city, as Angel leaves his apartment to roam. Instead of peace, he finds himself face to face with Buffy. An awkward conversation ensues, made more awkward when Angel looks past Buffy -- and sees Daniel standing in the middle of the street. He freezes in shock as Buffy asks what's wrong, and Daniel disappears.

Angel's less-than-normal (even for him) behavior doesn't escape Buffy's notice -- she relays the story to Xander and Willow the next day. Xander is unsympathetic, but Willow shares Buffy's worry, although Buffy refuses to tell Giles. The topic wanders to holidays -- Buffy is planning to stay at home with her mother, Willow's trying to get into the Hannukah spirit, despite her estrangement from Oz, and Xander spends Christmas Eve sleeping outside. To avoid his family's druken fights, Cordelia inserts nastily from the periphery, announcing her plans to go to Aspen. That night, Buffy and Joyce head out for Christmas tree buying, and Joyce suggests inviting Faith to spend Christmas Eve with them. Since things are still tense between the Slayers, Buffy tries to talk her mother out of it, but Joyce guilts her into issuing the invitation -- and jumps away from the very idea of inviting Giles. Before they leave, Buffy finds a clump of Christmas trees that apparently simply died overnight. and there's no Christmas peace for Angel, who wakes from another nightmare, of fires and ritual and robed men with X's instead of eyes.

Buffy issues the guilt-extracted invitation to Faith, who cools out of it, claiming prior commitment to a party. And Giles receives another unexpected visitor -- Angel, who shows up on his doorstep. It's a tense moment, made even more so when Angel asks for help. And before inviting him in, Giles caps the stress by picking up a crossbow. Angel tells Giles about his dreams, and asks Giles to help him find out how he got out of Hell, why he was brought back. Giles doesn't have any answers, but that's okay since Angel isn't listening anymore -- since Jenny Calendar hass appeared next to Giles, carressing his shoulders and gazing accusingly at Angel. Angel runs for it and tries to find refuge in sleep.

London, late 1800's: At a swanky party, Angelus has corralled a pretty young maid under the stairs, who is desperate not to lose her job. Angelus threatens her and her child, as he takes the meal he came for. He finishes and looks up -- and sees Buffy Summers staring back at him. Angel wakes, and in her bedroom, Buffy's eyes simultaneously jump open.

Angel struggles out of bed and into the main room -- and is confronted by Jenny Calendar. He asks her to leave him alone, but she responds that "I can't, you won't let me." He tries to apologize, but she brushes him off in classic Jenny style, harassing him about feeling sorry for himself. "I don't want to make you feel bad," she says, morphing into Daniel. "I just want to show you who you are."

Sun shines through the windows of the library the next morning, as Bufffy tells Giles about sharing the dream with Angel. Reluctantly, Giles admits that something is wrong with Angel, and tells Buffy what Angel asked. Giles is already researching the question of Angel's reappearance, and Buffy persuades him to let her help. More assistance unexpectedly arrives in the form of Xander -- a repentant Xander, who admits he's been a jerk about Angel, and wants to make amends. Giles hands everyone books, and they head off to work, joined by Willow. The four original Slayerettes set to work, with the occasional break for talking -- Willow and Oz have a date for Christmas Eve, she tells Buffy, and she is determined to show him that he comes first with her.

However peaceful the library is, Angel is still in Hell, as his former victims parade around him, reminding him of Angelus's sins. He tries to refute them, that he's not the demon, but the man, and the spirits remind him that Angel wasn't much of a man before the change -- "A druken, whoring layabout, and a terrible disappointment to your parents," the young maid charges him. He begs them to stop, and Jenny reappears, telling "I don't want to hurt you, but you have to understand. Cruelty is the only thing you ever had a true talent for." He denies it and she brushes him off. "You mistake it for a curse Angel, but it's not. It's your destiny. I'll show you."

Angel slips into sleep, joined by Buffy, who has collapsed in exhaustion on the floor of the stacks. They share another dream, of making love together as they had once before. But this time ends no better than the last -- a man with no eyes appears across the room, as Angel is replaced by Angelus, and attacks. They both wake, and Jenny goads Angel, "You want her. Take her," telling him that is what he is, why he was brought back -- to kill the Slayer.

Giles has found an answer for them -- references to the First, the first evil, older than man or demons, who could have the power to bring Angel back. The Firsts' high priests, the Bringers, are robed men with no eyes, like Buffy saw in her dream. Giles warns Buffy that she can't fight the First, but Buffy decides she can fight the priests, if she can find them. She and Xander head together to the man who knows everything -- Willie the bartender, Angel's informant. Xander attempts to be intimidating, to Willie's well-concealed amusement, and Willie says he's heard news of the underground dwellers being scared out of town, suggesting they look underground.

Oz arrives at Willow's house for their date -- and is greeted by a low-cut red dress, candles, Barry White and a girl bent on seduction. He gently tells her he's flattered, but not ready, and doesn't want to be seduced. That if he and Willow do anything, it will because they both want to, not because anyone's trying to prove anything. They settle for making out. Across town, Buffy and Joyce are decorating when Faith arrives on their doorstep -- apparently her 'party' fell through. Buffy respects Faith's attempts to be cool and invites her in, complete with presents. Buffy heads upstairs to get presents -- and finds Angel waiting in her bedroom. He's on the edge, scared and desperately wanting Buffy. Unheard by Buffy, Jenny eggs him on, and he tries to resist, fighting to hold himself back. Buffy, worried and scared, tries to talk him down as Jenny continues to taunt him. He finally escapes, plunging through the window.

Leaving Faith to guard her mother, Buffy races for Giles. Both are afraid Angel is reverting, and Buffy faces that she may have to kill him, again. Back in the mansion, Jenny continues to torment Angel, telling him as long as he's alive, he's destined to hurt Buffy. "Then I'll die," Angel responds. "All I need is sunlight." Determined, he walks into the garden and away, leaving a fuming 'Jenny' behind. "You're not supposed to die, this isn't the plan," she says in frustration. Then smiles. "But it'll do."

Buffy and Giles are having no luck tracking down the priests, until Giles stumbles on a verse which states that nothing can ever grow around them. Buffy instantly remembers the Christmas trees and heads for the lot, breaking through the ground into a tunnel below the earth and right into the Bringers' ritual. They prove no match for the Slayer -- until The First appears, in Jenny's form. She begins her riff on being all powerful evil, which fails to impress Buffy; The First's next tactic does the job, when she tells Buffy that Angel will be dead by sunrise. The First disappears and Buffy runs in search of Angel. The mansion is empty, the doors open, and she races up the hills behind the mansion, finding Angel standing in the open, looking over the water. Waiting for the sunrise, minutes away.

Buffy begs Angel to get inside, but he tells her he's already decided what he has to do. He beleives what The First has told him, that he was brought back only for evil, that there's nothing else he can do -- and he can't face being a killer again. He wants Buffy, knowing it will cost him his soul, and "Part of me doesn't care. I'm weak, I've never been anything else. It's not the demon in me that needs killing -- it's the man." Buffy, nearly crying, screams that he can do good make amends. "But if you die now, all that you will ever be is a monster!" She tries to force him to move, and he hits her away, then shakes her, trying to persuade her that "the world wants me gone." "What about me?" Buffy says through tears. "I love you so much." She confesses how hard it is to stay away from Angel, and how much she wishes she could hate him, but can't. Angel is also in tears now, still trying to keep the strength to do what he thinks he has to. "Strong is fighting," Buffy tells him. "It's hard and it's painful and it's everyday. 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."

As the two face each other, they become aware of something odd -- snow has begun to drift down from the sky above them. The entire city is slowly covered, as Willow and Oz look out from Willow's room, Faith and Joyce from the front door, Giles from his window, and Xander in his sleeping bag wakes to find his face covered. As the weatherman announces that the sun isn't going to come out that day, Buffy and Angel walk hand-in-hand through a quiet, snow-covered Sunnydale, for once at peace.

Nothing we didn't know already about Angelus -- cruel, vicious, sadist -- but lots more detail than most of us really wanted.

There exists and evil greater than just about anything called The First, who is also cruel, vicious, sadistic, and likes to hear itself talk. It has priests called The Bringers.

Willow and Oz are back together, and both seem determined to keep together this time around.

Xander and Cordy are back to the attempted homicide phase of their relationship.

Angel and Buffy have given up trying to stay away from each other, since it's not doing any good, and may be doing serious harm. Where they're going to go from here is anyone's guess.

Angel has obviously been spending way too much time alone (and apparently filling that time marathoning Forever Knight episodes; he had a very Nick-like aura about him this week). Left to his own devices and without Buffy to give him a purpose -- either through love or through duty -- he almost immediately begins his backslide to the homeless wreck Whistler pulled out of the alley in New York, making him easy prey for The First. I'm not sure whether to give him credit for having the guts to walk in the sunlight for Buffy's sake, as he saw it, rather than stay around and be a walking, talking danger to her (all instincts scream agains this one, but...), or to bawl him out like Buffy did for choosing the easy way out. But Buffy might have been wrong, as Giles can't help believing. The demon does still live in Angel, and there is always the threat of losing control. Whether or not he can keep that control is Angel's problem and his decision -- and he can't do it alone. He's going to have to have some kind of bond with someone else to keep him going, i.e., someone to kick him in the butt on a regular basis and keep that nasty self-pity kick he likes to get on under control.. To keep his bond with Buffy makes both of them vulnerable in the worst possible way -- which is going to make his relationship with Cordelia even more interesting come spin-off time.

Buffy is in an incredibly bad position. Her duties as a Slayer and her responsibility to protect Sunnydale in general and her friends in particular are warring with her responsibility to take care of her lover and her need to be with him (and her deep desire to hate him for what he's done, or what the demon did wearing his face). Spending any time with Angel does seriously jeopardize the first, but not spending time with him leads to things like him staying up past sunrise -- and if he doesn't, could *still* put Sunnydale in danger if he goes over the edge. Your basic no-win situation. She's trying, and it's costing her.

Gotta love Giles. Despite his feelings towards Angelus, he's still fighting to remember that Angel is a good guy, and that Buffy loves him, so he's still willing to try to help someone who cost him so much. And, as usual, he comes through when Buffy needs him. But while he's willing to help, he hasn't forgotten a thing -- his hostility towards Angel and the application of a crossbow to the situation was, if less than polite, totally appropriate. I don't think he and Angel will ever be friends again, not even the slightly uneasy comradeship they had by 'Surprise' -- that's not possible. But at least they can work together when they have to.

I was vastly amused by Willow for most of the episode -- I did love her continuing insistance on Jewish and Hannukah -- nice to see someone remember that there are other winter celebrations out there, thank you. But what I really loved was her decision to do whatever she had to to get Oz to trust her again. Being Willow, she went a little over the top, of course, but the attempt and the emotions behind it were pure Willow, and quite sweet. But she *must* have borrowed that dress from Buffy!

Oh, thank God, I love Xander again. Now I can finish that future Xander fic that's been untouched for seven months because I was so furious with the boy. He went a long way towards redeeming himself this ep, by finally coming off of his high horse, admitting he'd been screwing up, and making his own amends by helping Buffy and the others find out how to help Angel. No coal in his stocking this year. And much sympathy for his home situation. We've suspected for a long time that Xander's homelife is less than good, but Cordelia's crack about "drunken fighting" explains a whole lot. His trust issues, for starters, his lack of sharing about his parents, his parents' apparent lack of concern about where Xander gets to at all hours of the night.... Poor guy.

And it's now proven that Cordelia not only holds a grudge, but cherishes and nurtures it. Not that she doesn't have just cause, but the crack about his parents in front of everyone was going a bit too far (she probably had in mind humiliating him as he inadvertantly humiliated her before the whole school, which is not an inapporpriate reaction, but her choice of targets was way too far below the belt). It's probably a good thing she's L.A. bound -- having her and Xander in the same town for much longer is just begging for homicide.

Oh hell. < groan > Joyce and Giles *did* sleep together. That was not an 'I'm uncomfortable around this guy because we made out' reaction to Buffy's thought, that was an 'OhgodIsleptwithhimIcanneverlookathimagain' reaction. Can I just say, "Ew?" But I am proud of Joyce for thinking of Faith and guilting Buffy into getting her there.

Wow, Faith's got araw deal for the holidays. Stuckin a strange town with no family and not quite trusting or trusted by the only people she knows. Give her credit, she tries -- the lights strung around her motel room were both touching and pathetic -- she's trying so hard to pretend her life is normal when it's patently not. And her lame excuse to Buffy about the party is just that -- lame. Buffy had a lot of class in letting her get away with it, but I'm just as glad Faith gave in to her deep desire to actually have a Christmas and showed up at the Summers'.

Oh, Williw rocks. I had a sneaking affection for the little twit after What's My Line and I'm delighted to see he hasn't been forgotted. Entirely besides the concept of the vampire bar (apparently someone else has been borowing Angel's FK tapes), Willie is a useful resource for Buffy, and his attempts to soothe Xander's ego were adorable. Willie may be a pain in the butt and fairly obnoxious, but he's also highly entertaining. Want him back! Lots!

Yeee. I'm ashamed to admit that I only consciously figured out that wasn't Jenny about half an hour in (I think I got it subconciously about the time I called her a bitca, which is not a word I had ever previously associated with Jenny). They threw me first with her caressing Giles, and later with her "I'd like to die old..." speech, both of which were pure Jenny. But I did, eventually tweak to it. An outstanding performance from Robia, yay!!!

Best Moments:
Willow going off on Hannukah ("Still Jewish!").

Cordelia and Xander's confrontation. Poor Xander -- compeltely unarmed in a battle of wits with a pissed-off Cordelia.

Oz and Willow's reconcilation. Awkward and touching and I *really* want to find Oz under my Christmas tree!

Angel arriving at Giles' apartment. Giles was beautifully intense and angry, and Angel was nervous and guilty, and by the time 'Jenny' showed up I was dying! Wow. Kudos to all three of them.

Angel's first confrontation with Jenny. I miss her so much, and it was cool to see her, even if it wasn't really her. The dialogue was dead perfect.

Buffy asking Giles for help, and his reluctant agreement -- with the admission that he'd already been working on it. WAtcher Guy comes through again!

Xander's apology. I was so glad to see him admit he'd been a jerk (admittedly, with some justification), and it was great to see all three of the Slayerettes and Giles working together again. I've missed that more than I can say.

Buffy and Angel's dream. Geez, I need a cold shower. And they get *paid* for this?

Willie! A wonderful scene -- Xander and Willie's interaction was too cool, especially Willie's attempt to reassure Xander about the intimidation. Way too adorable.

Willow trying to sedure Oz. Overkill it might have been, but at least he couldn't doubt her sincerity. And his response was just perfect -- turning her down without rejecting her. < sigh > Have I mentioned that Oz is the world's coolest human?

Buffy confronting The First. That nice, cliched Evil speech (which was actually pretty damn good), and Buffy is *so* not impressed! A deeply cool sceen from both Sarah and Robia.

Buffy and Angel's end confrontation. Yes, we're setting up for Angel leaving for the spin-off, but the entire scene was a beautiful take on suicide. Buffy kicked Angel in the butt when he needed it most, then gave him a reason to live by reminding him that she needed him, that someone loved him even when he didn't. Heartbreaking and deeply cool.

The snowfall at the end. I *liked* it! See Comments for the reasons.

Questions and Comments:
Okay, okay, I know, the Christmas snowfall concept is cliched, cheesy and hokey as hell. But it *worked*, damn it! I was half-laughing, half-sobbing uncontrollably during the last five minutes of the ep, which is an unmistakable sign that it worked. I have no problem with the concept of that heat wave breaking with a snowfall just when it was most desperately needed, both to give a little good spirit, and to keep the sun from coming out (Angel, honey, that would be what we call A Sign). Angel was caught in a really bad choice -- he wanted to live because he likes living; he wanted to die to pretect the world in general and the person/people he cares about (and to protect himself) and he couldn't make the choice. So he got a little help from outside -- maybe a bit of a cop-out, but I don't think it made up Angel's mind for him, or removed any chocies; there's lots of ways for a vampire to commit suicide if they're set on it. It just gave him a little bit of encouragement, a little bit of hope when he desperately needed it. Which would seem to be rather Christmas/Hannukah/Soltice spirit-like to me.

The episode made a big deal out of the greatest and oldest evil wandering around Sunnydale, trying to persuade Angel to either kill the Slayer or kill himself. But where there is a great evil, there *has* to be an equally great good to balance it -- which is something we've seen very little evidence of to date. We've got Evil all over the place, courtesy of the Hellmouth, but the only proof of that great good is the existance of the Slayers (and possibly Whistler -- we'll see). Personally, I'm glad to see that Good showed its face when it was needed. *That* works for me. And admit it -- isn't it cool to have an episode end with everyone happy and hopeful for once, instead of everyone (including the audience) ready to, well, commit suicide?

On the same topic, I would like to point out that the only evidence we have that The First brought Angel back is that it might have the power and, well, that it said so. And Evil lies; it's sort of one of the distinguishing characteristics. My personal theory is that Good also had a hand in it, if it didn't do the whole thing -- backed up by Angel's dreams and Buffy's sharing them. Evil had no reason to bring her into Angel's dreams -- Good had every reason in the world if it wanted to keep Angel from dying. Good is just more subtle than the fang, bang, thank you ma'am approach that Evil seems to favor in the Buffyverse. End soapbox.

More Willie? Please?

Rating: 4.5 out of five. A good, solid character episode, with great performances and some really wonderful moments. I couldn't tell you where the weakness is in the ep (not the ending, certainly), but while I was crying my eyes out the first time through, it didn't *quite* hold together on the second viewing.


"I liked the episode, except for the part where they lost the last act of the script and had to ad-lib the rest of the show." -- Betsy

"Let me be the first to point out that the snow had nada to do with Christmas, as Christmas. ("Still Jewish!") That this took place on Christmas Eve was almost a coincidence. It had *everything* to do with it requiring a miracle to change Angel's mind. Because there was nothing anyone, anywhere, on the Earth could do to prevent him from killing himself if he thought that was the best thing for the world, something somewhere else --- something that can forgive --- decided to step in and make sure that he understood that today was not the day he was going to die. No matter how hard he tried. " -- Chris

Which gives me a clue as to what that First Evil was, the thing that lives in the dark, that never dies, etc. ad nauseum. Despair. Which *can* be the hardest thing to fight, because it can look like sense, and self-preservation, and reason, and all those other thoughts that make you want to give up when it's too hard to keep going. That's what Buffy was fighting, instead of the things you can see and hit. (Maybe they said it explicitly and I missed it, but I don't think they did.) Maybe that's what got Angel out of the demon realm, and maybe it was hope. Maybe you can't keep someone who'll still fight if they have a chance." -- Chris

""Amends" is Joss' attempt to squish everything back together with that sticky, sugary stuff that gingerbread houses are made of. The ones that are either eaten, or turn into hard rock, or melt away in the rain. Which is it to be for Buffy?" -- Dawn

"The First? -- well, ummm... I think they've got plans for Angel that have to do with the sunrise. Who wants to bet they had something to do with the snowfall? A Miracle? I don't think so. Will it tie in with the Mayor's "big year"? Will it have something to do with Angel leaving? Is Joss go" -- Dawn

"Was the first time with the maid/ghost a test-drive, and then the whole s*x scene them manipulating her subconscious?"
"I'm thinking they weren't initially figuring on her connection with Angel, in concert with the Slayer's natural true-dream talent, pulling her in. Her witnessing Angel killing Margaret was an accident, once they decided to take advantage of by focussing Angel's next dream *on* Buffy, which could be *depended* upon to pull her in. And if the First can "call up spiritual beings", that could conceivably include the astral self of a living person--Buffy may have been *directly* hijacked into the BTVS Blue dream. But I still think the first time was probably an accident."
"So, dream-Angel was making out with Buffy's asteroid body?"-- Dawn, Valerie, Dianne

"OK - personally, and I never thought *I* would ever say thi), I think you all are looking at all this too scientifically. The explanation for what happened is simple: Hellmouth froze over." -- Jennie

"I'm rather ecstatic that they're doing character development, myself, so I am not really suffering as much from the depth of torture as you are, but I *had* noticed the trend was almost getting to be too much. It's like they're holding the audience just at the edge of our collective breaking point - and some folks are kinda *over* the edge and just hanging on by their fingertips as a result." -- Jennie

"It's not even the miracle thing that got me -- although it did but then we don't know *why* there's a chosen one to fight the demons, and *why* the demons left earth in the first place. There could be these random beneficial "mighty-power" (as opposed to Mighty Morphin Power Rangers) that can influence things. I even like Chris' semi-explanation (and potential fanfic idea) of Jenny's ghost doing it. What got me was the quality of the snow, and the *a-hem!* lack of sun. " -- Dawn

"I liked Buffy giving Willow advice. Good, solid advice. And I liked Willow's slightly startled reaction--I think it was partially, "Wow...that was...*wisdom*. From Buffy.", and partially a reaction to the fact that they had, for the first time in memorable history, had an exchange that was like the best-friends'-exchanges they'd had for 2 years but which had been missing since before Buffy left Sunnydale. Nice. And a good little bit of working toward actually having things heal a little *somewhere*." -- Amy

"Of course, another thing that's been bothering me is the fact that first Buffy, and now Giles, have invited Angel back into their homes. *WHY*? Don't they remember that they dis-invited him for a reason? Don't they think it might be helpful to *keep* him dis-invited, just for safety's sake, for at least a while longer? They're not certain he'll maintain good-Angel-ness. They believe he's unstable and untrustworthy. For good reasons. Why just let him in? Why can't Giles talk to Angel while Angel stands in the doorway? Why does Buffy have to invite Angel in while she's dealing with Spike? I don't like that." -- Amy

"5/6ths of the ep *rocked* beyond all belief... which is what made the complete cop-out *huh???* ending so much more of a choking point. Now there are a lot of reasons I can give why it may have just hit me that way
1) I grew up in SoCal.... *snow*?!?!?
2) "Still Pagan here, peoples! Solstice spirit anyone?" ;-) But seriously, it means I can't take seriously any notion of 'absolute evil' or 'absolute good'. I pretty much figured from right off that the Jenny-shaped baddie was just a particularly _nasty_ demon giving itself airs.
3) I was expecting more Joss... I kept sitting there as the snow started, thinking: "Snow? I mean not only in SoCal, but could you *be* more pointlessly cliched than unexpected snow for Christmas making everything all warm and fuzzy out of nowhere? Come on, this is Joss! It's can't be snow... so what is it, demon dandruff???" As they pulled up away from B&A, I kept expecting to see what it _really_ was... so that threw me for about a minute there." -- Dianne

"Everyone's been in character all ep-- even if Xander's got it together, Giles _can't_ just forgive Angel. It's *ever*-so-painful to watch and not very 'Christmassy', but it's very true to the story and the characters. So we're building up lots of Giles pain and cool Oz moments and more pain and Angel's determined to kill himself... and the pain is building to an owieowieowie crecendo between B&A.... And then snow suddenly starts falling, all's right with the world, God bless us every one! Sorry, but I say again-- *Huh???* I felt cheated in a big way. I half expected Giles to show up in the last frames, running through the streets to embrace Angel and forgive him everything in an overload of Christmas spirit... Cordy sees the light and spends all Christmas day volunteering to feed homeless orphans in the 'bad' part of town... they all join hands around a tree in the middle of Sunnydale and sing until the Grinch treforms. It would have fit with the Miracle Snow Making Everything O.K. Again. Very cliched, very ridiculous, and very out-of-nowhere, just for the fuzzy feeling (which even I have to admit *was* there in abundance-- no questioning the "awwww!" factor). I expect better of Joss. " -- Dianne

"And I think it was inevitable, considering the nature of the show (and our rampant masochism), that a decision to give us a holiday gift by *not* ripping our hearts out, purieing them, and feeding them to Joss on a silver platter...would end up seeming a bit anticlimactic. That said, though, I still think dingoes ate the ending." --Val

"I do think the First is being set up as Angel's nemesis--the Hellmouth equivalent, if you will, for his show. In which case, we don't *want* to know too much about it right off. But it's still disorienting to watch "Amends" and wonder exactly what purpose would be equally served by Angel killing Buffy or killing himself, and why it couldn't be accomplished by someone who didn't have to be fished out of the demon dimension especially for the occasion. The only answer that fits the bill is the destruction (as opposed to the loss) of Angel's soul, because he's the key to something we don't yet know about." -- Valerie

"But why does it have to be *ultimate* good? Why can't it just be a freaky thing that happens to result in something cool and special instead of blood-shedding and disastrous for a change?"
"It doesn't have to be "ultimate" anything. But *some* evidence of cause and effect would be nice. However many times the Hellmouth has done its Ultimate Convenient Plot Device duty, it has always been presented as a basically static influence on active *other* forces. "Because there's a Hellmouth" has always been perfectly acceptable to me as a reason for things happening the *way* they did, but I can't buy it as a reason for something happening *period*. Even "freaky things" have causes. Now, I have a quite workable theory about the cause in this case: I think Jenny did it. And I think she has finite amount of power to affect the living world, and she has to choose her miracle-ex-machina moments very carefully; and that she's quite possibly limited to influencing Angel's fate specifically. (It would only make sense, considering her duty regarding him while she was alive.) It's also possible that the First inadvertently got her close enough to our world to make the snow thing happen, or that she even found a way to steal some of its power as it stole her face. This last wouldn't have occurred to me, except that Giles reads that the First has the power to *call up spiritual entities* to haunt/manipulate its victim. There's a big dingdingdingding there...why say that, instead of saying it uses illusions drawn from the victim's mind? Could it have been "possessing" the *real* ghosts of Angel's victims, and Jenny found a way to defy it and perhaps use its own power against it, in time to save Angel from his own despair, at least temporarily, when even Buffy failed?" -- Gina and Valerie

"I'm actually perfectly satisfied that there *was* a cause for the snow, even if we never find out what it was. (Although I'll be *pissed* if we never find t what it was.) What I found harder to swallow, as sweet and holiday-gift-from-Joss-y as it was, was the image of Angel placidly walking hand in hand with Buffy through the white-dusted streets...instead of howling his frustration that his choice was snatched away from him by Yet Another Unknown Power! Not that *I* don't agree with said power (Jenny or whatever), because I definitely agree with Buffy that he has far more to offer the world than his absence. But *Angel* remained unconvinced of that when the snow just *happened*, and I can only force myself to buy the "magical moment" as just that--a moment of wonder, caused by this completely unexpected circumstance. A temporary distraction, that lasts only long enough for Angel to register that it has short-circuited his exercise of free will." -- Valerie

"Look at it this way: Angel is _so_ scared he'll kill Buffy, that he'll become evil again, that he's decided to kill himself. Even Buffy's heartbreaking pleading is not keeping him from this. He is *so* terrified he'll kill her and/or become a monster, that he's determined that the only way to avoid this is to die. Then *wham*-- the sun _isn't_ gonna rise and make it easy. I can accept him putting it off (rather than falling on a stake... wouldn't be all that hard, you know). I can see him eventually having a change of heart over that extra time. But he walks off all chummy with Buffy. Emotionally sweet, no question, but it makes *no* sense." -- Dianne

"Okay. But ... Giles is still alone, Xander's still alone, Cordy's in Aspen... it wasn't a total emotional cop-out. It was a victory, not a solution; a reason to keep fighting, not the end of a battle." -- Chris

"I think the last one could have bee *really* powerful, myself. Angel knows Buffy wants him not to die, so to a certain extent he discounts her arguments. If Giles were to have shown and argued him out of it-- for Buffy's sake, to vex the demon, for Angel's own sake, to spare Buffy some of the pain he went through with losing Jenny, to try to heal Giles' own wounds-- Angel might have been convinced by the (presumably severely reluctant) agruments of the one current person with perhaps the biggest grievance against him and the least to gain by him living on. IMNSHO, *that* would have been a killer, Jossian, sniffly, holiday ending... forgiveness, but not drowning in sap." -- Dianne

"I'd still pay major money to see Robia as Jenny and only-Jenny, not Jenny-channeled or Jenny-imposter or Jenny-possessed. (Watch. *Now* he'll bring her back as a vampire. Joss is a sadist.)" -- Chris "Everything that Buffy brought up --- that he has to make amends, that she can't convince him if he won't be convinced--- pointed to nothing other than some kind of Intervention being able to save him. This is Despair, this is the kind of stuff you *can't* fight in some ways. And yeah, Dee, it might have been better, or more Jossian, to have Buffy and Giles talk him out of it. I would have accepted that ending too. But Angel was saying "the world wants me gone", and "Am I a righteous man? Someone worth saving?" - something which he wasn't as conflicted about before the First got a hold of him. It only seems fair to me that something Else step in and point out that maybe the First's arguments are not the whole story, and have it snow so much that he can't kill himself. At least today. It answers the question of whether the world will stand by and let him die... This situation was a question of fighting or not, of dying or not. Because the First got its time in court, something Else made it snow so that side of the argument was heard too. Like I said, Angel still could have hung it up after that, if just knowing that there was a Good wasn't enough. And that really would have been a victory for the bad guys." -- Chris

"So, Tina, how badly will you murder Joss if he comes up with one more fake Jenny? owieowieowieowieowie..."
"I'll help her. Another auto-da-fe would be redundant; maybe we can do something with ice this time." -- Dianne and Chris

"I appreciate the slow, incremental setup for that show. Honestly I do. I appreciate that it is foreshadowed and built rather than done all in one episode (or two-parter) out of the blue. I also know that part of my problem with this is that I don't *care* about Angel or David at *all*. But, now that someone has pointed it out, I think I've been suffering a great deal from the "Oh, just get him gone to L.A. and let's get *on* with it!" attitude. "The sad part is that if I didn't know they were setting this up, I'd be fine with it, but I'm finding my reaction quite like my reaction to Vertigo, during which the audience knows the whole story and spends the last 1 1/2 hours of the movie watching Jimmy Stewart find out what we learned half way through. I found that (and this season of Buffy) intensely irritating from that perspective. (In all fairness, I'm also irritated with Buffy for a plethora of other reasons, and this is just one more irksome detail.) " -- Amy

"See, but I don't think that's the point. Nothing's all right. Nothing's fixed. Everything's just as ickybad as it ever was. Angel still doesn't know why the hell he's alive, and he didn't *decide* to live--he had the choice to die temporarily taken away from him. Giles still mistrusts Angel and feels extraordinarily pained/conflicted about him. Xander, despite his newfound maturity (which I think he's been slowly learning since "Revelations" and had pounded into him by the events of "Lovers Walk") is all alone in his backyard in his sleeping bag on Christmas Eve. It's a moment out of time. It's a tiny little sparkling holiday present. A brief break in the agony. A moment at which we can maybe think that not *all* the forces of the universe are aligned *against* Buffy, the Slayerettes and the good guys. And all the icky stuff is lying in wait to start again--but for one brief shining lerner and loewe moment, we can just be happy kids delighting in something utterly improbable and beautiful." -- Gina

"< hushed tone V.O. > "We've replaced the last three minutes of their usual Joss with new Folgers decaffinated crystals... let's see if they'll notice..." -- Dianne

"Oh, this is how you saw it? Basically, my take on the sitch is exactly the same: nothing changed. Angel didn't have a grand revelation, Buffy didn't find exactly the right words. But something strange, bizzare and beautiful happened... and Angel found he could stand living one moment more. It's the AA thing... don't try to make it through your life, just try to make it through the next minute. Angel didn't think he could make it through the next minute. Then something happened and he *could*. After that minute, he could make it through some more of the ones that followed... then more... then more.... What I think is important *is* that nothing changed. Angel didn't suddenly have a new lease on life. He's still going to have to deal with every issue that drove him to that hilltop. And while I doubt we'll see it, he might just end up there again. The snow didn't solve his problems. It just gave him something to believe in." -- Lizbet

"It happened to be "Christmas" with Buffy, and with this poem, because that's the cultural touchstone for mainstream we-dictate-your-holidays America, but I don't think Willow's bringing up Hanukkah was just for the gotcha value. There's a reason, I think, that Christmas and Yule and Hanukkah, holidays that all deal with the idea of light in the darkness, come around the longest, darkest night of the year. This is the time of year when it seems coldest, darkest, and loneliest--when believing in the good magic is most necessary." -- Gina

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