Lizbet's Review | Perri's Review | Leslie's Review

Lizbet's Review

Sorry this is so long. I think I got a LITTLE carried away... *g*

Darla enters the Master's underground lair and they agree that something must be done to stop Buffy. Darla begs to be allowed to kill her. The Master decides to send The Three instead. At the Bronze, Buffy is preoccupied with her own thoughts. Willow quizzes her about Angel, and Buffy admits that, while he is unpredictable and rarely around, she is interested. When it seems her bad mood is rubbing off on Willow and Xander, she heads home. Hearing someone sneaking behind her, she wearily challenges him to a fight. Unfortunately for her, it's not one vampire, but Three. She's losing until Angel appears and helps her kick The Three's collective butt, getting himself injured in the process. They run for Buffy's house and lock themselves inside. While tending Angel's cut, Buffy asks him why he is helping her. He evades her questions, however. Buffy pretends he is a college student helping her with her history studies when her mother comes home, and then sneaks Angel up to her bedroom, since she doesn't want him going back outside to face The Three. Upstairs, Angel tells her that his whole family was killed by vampires, and that he fights them because "someone has to."

The next morning in the library, Buffy tells Giles, Willow and Xander about the attack and Angel's rescue of her. Giles identifies The Three and theorizes that they are no longer a danger, since, having failed to kill Buffy, their lives are forfeit. His assumption is correct, and Darla slays The Three in the Master's lair. Giles steps up Buffy's weapons training in response to the Master's attack.

That night, Buffy returns to her bedroom with dinner for Angel. He says he spent the day reading and thinking. She sees her diary out and jumps to the conclusion that that was what Angel was reading. She manages to babble her own feelings for him thoroughly before he can convince her that her mother moved her diary, he didn't even look at it. He tells her he has to go, to leave her alone, that he is much older than she is - and that all he can do is think about how much he wants to kiss her. Buffy moves forward into his arms and they kiss, until Angel pulls away violently. When Buffy asks him what is wrong, he turns back - revealing his demon face.

The next morning, Buffy tells the others of what happened. Giles and Xander try to convince her that Angel is a demon, a monster, and it is her duty to slay him. Willow is swayed by the fact that he never hurt her. Meanwhile, Angel returns to his own basement lair, and finds someone there: Darla. She mocks him for trying to imitate humans, reminding him of their long history together. She makes a violent point by opening a window and letting a stream of sunlight in, burning him. As she leaves, she tells Angel to tell Buffy about "the curse" and see how she takes it.

Giles finds in the diaries of previous Watchers mention of a vampire named Angelus ("angelic one" or, as they say in the episode, "the one with the angelic face.") This Angel was born in Ireland 240 years before, roamed Europe killing and then, about 80 years before, came to America, settled in, and harmed none. Willow and Buffy try to take this as a sign that Angel is a good vampire, but Giles and Xander are still unconvinced.

Darla tells the Master of her two-fold plan: to bring Angel back to them, and to kill the Slayer. Later, in the library, Buffy and Willow are studying US Civil War history together. Buffy can't get her mind off Angel, and Darla overhears the two girls discussing their love lives. Darla hears Buffy say she will be home in about a half an hour, and goes to Buffy's home herself. Buffy's mom lets her in when Darla claims that she's here to help Buffy study history, and offers the vampire a snack. Darla takes her up on that offer. Angel hears Buffy's mom scream and finds her unconscious in Darla's arms. Darla tempts Angel with warm blood, tossing Joyce's body at him and laughing, "Welcome home," when his face shifts. Darla walks out and Buffy enters, finding her mother bleeding in Angel's arms. She tosses him out a window and vows to kill him if he gets near her or hers again.

At the hospital, Buffy tells Giles, Willow and Xander that she is going to kill Angel. She heads out after him with a crossbow. Darla confronts Angel in his apartment, taunting him with the fact that Buffy is out to kill him. Angel snaps, shoving her up against a wall and declaring he just wants it over with. Joyce wakes up in the hospital and from her conversation, Giles realizes that it was another vampire who attacked her, not Angel. He, Willow and Xander head to the Bronze, where Buffy said that she was going to search for Angel.

In the Bronze, Angel and Buffy move in shadows. But neither one of them can bring themselves to harm the other. Angel tells her that he was the vampire who killed his family. He killed everyone who crossed his path, until he was cursed by the elders of a tribe of gypsies. They restored the soul that had been lost when he had become a vampire, and now he had to live with the horrific things he had done. Worse, he still has the desire to kill and destroy. But he cannot bring himself to harm Buffy. Darla finds them there, and tells Buffy that she is Angel's master, that they were in love and she loves him still. She sneers at him for loving someone who would destroy him, and promises that he will always remember what it was like to watch Buffy die. She pulls out two guns and shoots Angel to get him out of the way, and then goes after Buffy. Giles, Willow and Xander enter the Bronze and attempt to distract Darla. Willow shouts out that Darla was the one who attacked Buffy's mom, not Angel, and Giles starts strobe lights flickering. In the eerie light, Darla almost has Buffy cornered when Angel appears behind her and drives one of the crossbow bolts into her heart. She whispers his name and dies.

A few nights later, Buffy, Willow and Xander are at the Bronze. Willow sees Angel and points him out to Buffy. Buffy and Angel agree that, no matter what they feel for each other, a relationship between them could never work. Unable to walk away without a kiss, they hold on to each other for a long moment. Buffy finally whispers, "See you around?" and walks away, not noticing that the cross necklace that Angel gave her burned its mark onto his chest.

OK, I'm biased, I know. I love Angel (episode and character). However, there is a reason I'm biased, and it's because of episodes like this one. After several episodes of tease, we get character development for our mysterious character, and by the grace of Joss, telling us Angel's secrets only makes him more fascinating. Reluctantly a hero, reluctantly in love with Buffy, he's willing to sacrifice himself for her. *sniff*

I love the symbolism in the episode. The Bronze is being closed to kill cockroaches (turn one in and you get a free drink), but all that happens is that the cockroaches that survive are stronger.

Everyone gets some good stuff to do in this episode. Giles (for possibly the last time) gets to hide in his books and think that they have the ultimate answer. Xander manfully offers to protect Buffy from the evil vampires, and has a jealous fit when he finds out that Angel not only spent the night in her room, she saw him naked. Willow, in an unrequited love herself, can't see past that fact to advise Buffy very well. She basically ignores the reality of Angel's nature. So Buffy, while she has three separate people to confine in about her feelings, is still left alone and has to decide for herself. Worse, her mom, the one very important person in her life who is completely clueless about who and what she is, is attacked.

Perri's Review

One of my favorite episodes, and not just because it's almost a solid hour of David Boreanaz. Honest. Lots of angst, a hopeless romance, and some truly excellent writing and directing. And almost a solid hour of David Boreanaz....

I think Lizbet pretty much covered it. Exhaustively. Go read hers.

At last, we find out just who the hell Angel (aka Cryptic Guy, aka Annoying Guy) really is. (Not that most of us hadn't figured it out by the end of 'Never Kill a Boy', but anyway....) So, Angel is a vampire, guilt-ridden enough about it to be helping the Slayer, which makes him the Master's natural target. Darla is revealed as Angel's 'mother' and ex, but she bites it, which leaves Creepy Boy Colin as the Master's only advisor/pawn. Creepy Boy continues to get creepier as the Anointed One thing is referenced, but not really advanced.

Xander finally has a concrete reason to hate Angel, and the rivalry gets kicked up another notch, although he handles it much better here than he will later. The Buffy/Angel relationship finally kicks into high gear, instead of the dancing around we've gotten until now. In other words, they kiss, admit they have feelings, and decide they can't let anything come of their relationship. Like that's gonna last...

We get confirmation that vampires have to be invited in, and confirm Giles's information from the pilot that a vampire is a demon and does not have a soul.

Angel is a nice twist on the traditional 'guilt-ridden vampire' character -- he was perfectly happy to be wandering around killing and destroying, until his soul was restored to him, not by his choice. Which makes him still guilt-ridden, but in an original kind of way; he's messed up enough to be helping his natural enemy, the Slayer, kill his own kind (Darla is right, much as I hate to admit it; Angel needs serious professional help). But this explains a lot about Angel's radical personality change between the pilot and the rest of his appearances -- initially, he was resigned to helping the Slayer, but determined not to make it easy -- hello, Annoying/Cryptic Guy. Then he meets Buffy, they converse as actual people, and he gradually lets the annoying facade drop. Then he falls in love, which really screws with his head, poor baby.

Buffy is just not having an easy turn as Slayer. Bad enough to be The Chosen One, and lose your social life to the thrill of vampire killing, but to fall in love with the gorgeous guy whose been warning you, then find out he's one of the things you swore to destroy? Not a good scene. The transitition of her view of Angel from Cute Guy to Vampire to Enemy to Ally/Love Interest is alternately amusing, scary as hell, and heartbreaking as her loyalties are turned and twisted around. She deals pretty well, all things considered, refusing to turn on Angel until she thinks he's hurt her mother, at which point she (understandably) loses it. But she can't quite believe him to be evil, and is ready to listen to him instead of killing him out of hand. She wants to believe he's a good guy, all evidence to the contrary.

And does anyone actually believe thse two are going to be able to 'walk away'? Angel doesn't even flinch when he gets a third-degree burn kissing Buffy, and the tension between them the entire episode, but particularly in the final scene, almost melts the VCR. Angel killed Darla for her -- they're both already in too deep.

Wow, Darla has a personality. When did that happen? She also has a brain, which she's apparently grown since the pilot -- her plot to turn Angel and Buffy against each other almost works; if either of them had been a little less in love, it would have worked. She seems as genuinely attached to Angel as a vampire can be, although she's certainly willing to risk his life against the Slayer on the off-chance he'll survive. And Angel certainly had some feelings left for her, judging by how bleak he looked after he staked her.

Xander, Xander, Xander.... He's finally proven right in all things, his instinctive distrust of Angel (which mostly stems from resenting that Buffy has the hots for him) is proven correct -- and still nobody cares. Buffy won't kill Angel, even though he's a vampire, Willow is actively trying to defend Angel, and even Giles is fence straddling. One of the only times I've actually disliked Xander is when he's trying to persuade Buffy that it's her duty to kill Angel -- Xander, honey, killing him because your crush is in love with him is just a tad extreme. But he does go along with the rest of the Slayerettes to keep Buffy from killing Angel, which redeems him, more or less. And it's amusing that he's the only one who keeps his grip on reality, wanting to know just what they're going to do if and when they do catch up with the big fight scene.

Willow is very into this romance thing -- she wants Angel to be a good guy, and defends him for the entire episode. Of course, she's never had a problem with Angel; lacking Xander's jealousy, she sees that Buffy cares for him, and that he's helped and protected Buffy. Therefore, he counts as one of the good guys, to be trusted despite little things like drinking blood. Her loyalties are by far the most straightforward of the lot.

Giles gets his reality picked up and shaken around. He's been firmly convinced his entire life that a vampire is something to be destroyed without mercy, an animal. Then he meets one that has not only repeatedly passed up the chance to snack ont he Slayer, but has actively helped and defended her, to the point of taking on the Three, for heaven's sake. He still wants to believe all vampires, including Angel, are bad, but does a credible job of accepting the new facts, and accepting that Angel maybe -- just maybe -- is different, to the point of taking the Slayerettes out to keep Buffy from killing him.

Buffy's mom remains cool: a bit of a workaholic, but nice to Buffy's supposed friend, Darla, mom-protective when faced with Angel (a tall, good-looking older guy in her house with her teenage daughter late at night. I'd have kicked him out, too), and even lying in a hospital bed, she's busy quizzing Giles about her daughter's performance in school. But she is too smart not to catch a clue about all of this eventually.

Best Moments:
Angel to the rescue! Okay, yeah, I'm a bit biased, but it was still cool to see Angel, who has been strictly staying out of the fights until now, come flying in to save Buffy from the Three.

Buffy and Angel being all cute and awkward in Buffy's room that night -- Angel doesn't want her to get in trouble; they need to figure out who gets the bed; Angel evading questions about himself like mad; the snoring question and Angel's smiling response. *sigh**WAFF*

Xander being all cute and jealous, all the way through (he only occasionally crosses the line to annoying and jealous).

Willow being all cute and supportive and babbling, all the way through.

Darla listening to Buffy and Willow in the library. In one shot, her face as she hears Buffy talk about how incredible Angel's kiss was, we see more real emotion in Darla than we've ever gotten; she actually seems like a person for a split-second. Really nice directing.

The showdown between Angel and Darla over Buffy's mother. Angel saves Mrs. Summers from Darla, then has to struggle to save her from himself. Then gets thrown through a window for his troubles. Argh.

The final scene, natch. The music is perfect, it's possible to see the bond between Angel and Buffy, the perfect comic relief of Xander pointedly not watching and Willow happily staring, and, of course, the kiss and the pan down to the cross burn. Ouch. Ouchouchouch. Give me the damn Kleenex.

So, Angel just happens to be in the Bronze when Buffy just happens to go hunting him there. I'll accept it as parallel thinking on both their parts, but it's still a bit too convenient.

As is Darla's impeccable timing of getting everyone in the kitchen in the right order to set Angel up. Okay, she knew when Buffy was going to be home, but she still got lucky that Angel was there to tell his curse story at the right time.

How did Angel explain staying at her house all day instead of leaving at daylbreak when the 'Fang Gang' would have been driven underground?

Valerie Meachum pointed out that we've got Sarah standing on an apple box again for that last kiss -- normally, she comes to about Angel's chin; for the kiss, she's up to his nose. Which, of course, she needed to be to keep the shot tight and put the cross on the right level for the burn, but Sarah's height really must be a nightmare for the directors and camera guys sometimes.

Rating: 5 stars out of 5. Good acting, writing, and directing all around; beautifully set up by the episodes before; amazing chemisty between Sarah Michelle Geller and David B.; and the final scene is nothing short of a four-hanky heartwrencher. And the fact that I am amazingly biased by being a hopeless romantic has nothing whatsoever to do with my enthusiasm....

Leslie's Review


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