Dianne's Synopsis | Chris's Review | Perri's Review

Dianne's Synopsis

Spike is bored and worried, wheeling about the factory restlessly as The Judge sits in a corner "preparing," and Dru reassures him that Angel and Buffy aren't really a threat. The Judge assures Spike that his power is growing, and will continue to grow with every life he takes. Dru suddenly shrieks and collapses in apparent pain, muttering Angel's name. Within seconds, however, she is smiling....

Buffy wakes up in Angel's bed-- alone. Angel is still on his knees in apparent agony in the alleyway. A woman who's come out to smoke a cigarette sees him and comes over to offer aid-- just as he straightens up and seems to relax. Turning on her suddenly in full game-face, he drains her, exhales a stream of smoke, and drops her, announcing that he feels "_fine_."

Buffy has headed home. Sneaking back in the house, she manages to cover in front of Joyce, who suspects something's wrong, but lets it go.

Xander returns to the library from a night spent staking out the bus depot, joining Giles, Jenny, Willow, and Cordelia, who apparently between them covered the airport and bus station all night. No one saw signs of further vampire activity, and no one's seen or heard from Buffy or Angel. Xander announces he's going out to rescue Buffy-- a reaction Cordy points out is impractical at best and suicidal at worst. Giles is forced to back her up, but Willow backs Xander, causing a small fight over who does and doesn't really care about her. As Willow and Xander head out, Buffy walks in looking for Angel and is upset to find that no one's heard from him.

She explains her failure to check in with the group before this by claiming that she and Angel had been forced to hide all night and somehow got split up while in the sewers. She also confirms that The Judge is fully assembled and ready to go. Giles then sends everyone off to class for the day. Willow stops Buffy on the stairs to check in with her, but Buffy just says she's worried about Angel and needs to speak with him. Jenny lurks around the corner, eavesdropping on them.

Back in the factory, Dru is recovering from her earlier collapse by babbling about the stars, while Spike wonders where Angel is. On cue, Angelus [following emerging SunS convention and keeping the names distinct ;-] appears, sense of humor apparently firmly restored along with his demon. Spike orders The Judge to "burn" him, but nothing happens. The Judge shrugs and reports that Angelus is "clean"-- without any remaining humanity at all. Dru is delighted that her Angelus has returned.

Spike, Angelus, and Dru thrill to the idea of being "a family" again-- only marred by a split-second of odd reaction from Angelus when Buffy is mentioned. Spike and Dru want to destroy the world, but Angelus is focused on destroying the Slayer-- unable to forgive or forget that she once made him feel human.

Meanwhile, back at the library, Buffy has called in from searching the city for Angel to no avail. Willow reassures an increasingly-worried Buffy over the phone while Xander, Cordelia, and Giles all dig through stacks of books looking for any hint of how to handle The Judge.

Xander runs into Cordy in the stacks and apologizes for the earlier fight. She's actually a bit hurt that he would go running off to die for Buffy when she knows he wouldn't do so for her, but she forgives him long enough for another stolen kiss. Willow, however, stumbles upon them this time and goes running from the room in distress, Xander hot on her heels.

Xander stops Willow in the hallway, trying to assure her that he had planned to tell her and that what she saw means nothing. Willow rages at him for his deception-- pointing out that it _does_ mean he'd rather be with someone he hates than with her-- before running off again.

Buffy (who had told Willow she was heading for the library, actually) heads for home, but turns back on the doorstep and goes to Angel's place instead. Finding him there she is relieved... until he starts to talk. He casually tells her just about every hurtful, mean, and callous thing he could _possibly_ have come up with to say to her after their first night together (and her first night, period)-- centering on the theme of "It didn't mean anything." Leaving her in (well-justified) tears, he walks out.

Jenny, meanwhile, is at her uncle's hotel room, trying to find out what's going on. He clarifies to her that the curse laid on Angel had an additional proviso-- if Angel ever achieved even a moment of true happiness with that soul, it would be immediately stripped from him once again-- the point of the curse being to make him suffer endlessly for what he did to their people. Her uncle has much to say on the subject of vengeance, countering Jenny's protests by pointing out that it is specifically vengeance and not justice that they are bound to serve. The pain and death that will be caused are unimportant, inevitable, collateral damage in this process. Jenny is horrified at this mindset and storms out.

At the school, Willow returns after having run home. She meets Xander in the hall, making it clear to him that "things are not O.K. between them", but that the events in progress are more important at the moment. Xander accepts this and in the course of their discussion has a thought-- which is sidetracked when the lights suddenly go out.

"Angel" appears at the end of the darkened hall, saying he has something to show them. Sending Xander to the library for the others, he calls Willow to him. Halfway to his destination, however, Xander has a bad feeling about things and heads back to Willow. Before Willow can reach "Angel," Jenny steps out, cross in hand, and warns her away.

Angelus grabs Willow by the throat and chokes her, stepping far enough into the light to show he's once again in full game face. Xander arrives back just in time to see this and realize, with Jenny, that somehow Angelus is back. Buffy arrives, distracting Angelus long enough for Xander to sneak up from behind with Jenny's cross and startle him into dropping Willow. Angelus then heads out-- grabbing, forcibly kissing, and dropping Buffy on his way.

Back in the library, the Slayerettes assure Giles that Angelus is definitely back, leaving the Watcher at a loss for a plan to deal with both this and The Judge. Willow calls Jenny on having known before he made his move on her that Angel was actually Angelus, but Jenny simply claims to have seen the game face and the subject is dropped. Giles, reasoning that there must have been _some_ event that precipitated the transformation, tries to question Buffy about it. She tries to avoid the questions, but, when he persists, ends up running out of the room. Giles is left perplexed, while Willow and Jenny realize from her reaction what actually happened that night.

Xander re-announces that he has come up with a plan, for which he admits (with a guilty look at Willow) that he needs Cordelia. Willow responds by pointedly offering Oz and his van for the expedition.

Back at the factory once again, Angelus gloats over his treatment of Buffy to Drusilla and Spike. Already tension is apparent between Spike and Angelus, however. Angelus not only mocks Spike's failed attempts at killing Buffy-- claiming that only one who loved her can kill her-- but also has clearly become the focus of all of Dru's affection and attention. While Dru, playing her little games between them, is still delighted at Angelus' return, Spike is showing signs of resentment.

Buffy heads for home, going directly to her room. Seeing the cross Angel gave her, she begins to break down, and-- removing the claddaugh ring-- she curls up on the bed and cries herself to sleep. In her dreams we see more images of the night of passion she spent with Angel-- broken suddenly by an image of his vampire snarl. She then finds herself outside at a funeral, which Angel is attending-- in full sun. He tells her "You have to know what to see," at which point she turns to see the chief mourner at this funeral raise her veil-- and reveal Jenny Calendar's face.

First thing in the morning, Buffy storms into school, into Jenny's class, past Giles, where she grabs Jenny by the throat and throws her down on her desk. Giles quickly reassures the other students and clears the room as Buffy lets Jenny up and starts accusing her of being the cause of Angel's transformation. To Giles' shock, Jenny admits to having arrived in Sunnydale to watch Buffy, to keep her and Angel apart. She admits to knowing what has happened, but swears she would have warned Buffy had she known in time about the second part of the curse. Jenny agrees with Buffy that it was their night together that caused the transformation, and on the heels of discovering Jenny's hidden agenda, Giles finally realizes what happened between Buffy and Angel that night. Buffy demands that Jenny re-curse Angel/us, but Jenny insists she is helpless to do so-- that, in fact, that level of magic completely died out among her people long ago. She does agree, however, when Buffy insists on being taken to "someone who _can_ help."

Back at her uncle's hotel room, we see him allow in and greet what he assumes to be Jenny returning with Buffy. It is, however, Angelus and a few of his vampire goons, who clearly have no good in mind.

Xander, Cordelia, Willow, and Oz arrive at Sunnydale's local military base in the van. Xander takes Cordelia with him as he cuts through the fence and heads for the armory. When stopped by a sentry, Xander first tries to convince the soldier he's a comrade on leave trying to get lucky with Cordelia, then dresses down the soldier for sloppy uniform, procedure, and gun handling. The soldier agrees to give him twenty minutes in the armory.

Inside, Xander explains to Cordelia that he still remembers all the knowledge he gained when he became a soldier at Halloween. They then get into a discussion of guns, sex, and hormones as he searches through the shelves. Outside in the van, Willow asks Oz outright if he wants to make out with her. Startled, Oz sweetly tells her that he frequently daydreams about kissing her, but that he won't now because she's obviously attempting to pay back Xander, and he wants any kissing between them to be about _them_.

Jenny, Buffy, and Giles arrive at uncle's hotel room to find him already dead. (And in a fashion that is apparently bad enough to make Giles faintly nauseous.) Angelus has scrawled "Was it good for you too?" across the wall in the man's blood. Giles points out that Angelus is only trying to make it harder for Buffy, but she responds that he's only making it easier to do what she has to do-- kill him.

The Judge has apparently decided that it's finally time to start the killing. But when Angelus and Drusilla leave the still-wheelchair-bound Spike behind as they head out with the Judge and assorted goon vamps, there is even more evident tension between Spike and Angelus.

The four Slayerettes return from the military base with a large crate, which they present to Buffy in Giles' office. As she and Giles are examining it, Jenny comes up and tries to offer help. Without turning around, Buffy tells her to leave. Jenny protests, but gives in when Giles repeats the order.

Buffy, Giles, Xander, Willow, and Cordelia all arrive at the factory with weapon in tow-- only to find it deserted. Distracted by trying to decide their next move, they fail to notice Spike watching them from the shadows. Oz is the one who figures out where Angelus, et al., must have gone.

The Judge, Angelus, Drusilla, and assorted goon vamps appear at the mall, where The Judge tests out his technique by burning the nearest patron to vapor with a single touch. Buffy and her backup arrive at the mall just as The Judge sends out an energy stream that simultaneously runs through the entire crowd. Distracted from this maneuver by Buffy's crossbow bolt landing in his chest, The Judge looks up in time to see her aim her high-powered bazooka at him. Angelus and Drusilla dive for cover as The Judge simply looks confused-- just before he's blown into about a million fragments.

As she gets to her feet, Drusilla realizes that she's covered in tiny fragments of The Judge and runs screaming from the scene. Buffy tells the Slayerettes to pick up all pieces of The Judge and to keep them apart, in order to be sure he remains harmless. Cordelia is less-than-thrilled by this idea, but moves with everyone else to help. Buffy, on the other hand, sees Angelus run back into the movie theater hallways and follows him-- just as the smoke from the explosion sets off all the fire sprinklers.

In the falling water and the deserted hallway, Buffy and Angelus fight it out-- neither pulling physical (or, in Angelus' case, verbal) punches. Finally Buffy gets him at a disadvantage, reaches for a stake-- and hesitates. Angelus smirks, telling her she can't bring herself to kill him. In response, Buffy kicks him hard in the groin. Leaving him to sink to the ground in pain, she tells him to give her time, and walks away.

Giles drives a physically and emotionally exhausted Buffy home. Stopping in front of her house, he warns her that the months ahead will be difficult and that Angelus will come after her, striking back at the things that made him feel most human. Buffy worries that Giles is disappointed in her, but he reassures her that she is not to blame for what has happened and that he continues to support and respect her.

Buffy spends the rest of the evening with her mom, belatedly celebrating her birthday with cupcakes and an old musical on TV. When Joyce asks how she spent her birthday, Buffy replies that she "got older." Rather than making a wish on her cupcake candle, she allows it to burn down, resting her head on mom's shoulder as they watch the old movie together.


Comments from the synopsizer (Because I'm not doing a review _too_, but I had to mention some things. :)

The extremes in this were brilliant, even when they were horrible-- Angelus being excruciatingly hurtful to Buffy the morning after; Oz being completely honest and still sweet and adorable with Willow; Giles making sure Buffy knows that she still has not only his unqualified support, but his complete respect. I'm in awe, Joss. :)

That said, in doing the synopsis a few things jarred-- most specifically the initial Buffy/Angel timing: We see Buffy wake up alone/cut to Angel outside in the middle of a rainy night becoming Angelus/cut to Buffy arriving home in a clear full morning. Either Buffy took at least four hours to get up, get dressed, and walk home, or Angelus was gone before she woke up (which makes more sense) and the cutting was strange.

But, hey... it took a blow-by-blow to notice, so who cares? ;-)

Chris's Review

Pretty hard to do justice to this one. This may be not only the best ep of Buffy (so far) but one of the best bits of episodic TV I've ever seen. I'll try to keep my thoughts organized here, but so *much* got packed into this one, I'm sure to forget something.

Cool Developments:

A ton of major and minor subplots that had been simmering for months all came to boil on one hour, but here's the major highlights, and what might come out of them:

1. Angel reverted to Angelus! Granted, we did have various spoiler warnings that this was going to happen---but on any other show, they would have "fixed" him by the end of the hour. Joss chose not to take the easy way out with this one, though, and the result is a completely changed (for the better!) show. Angelus is a trip! Evil, mean, cruel, cocky, smart, irredeemably bad; funny and take-no-prisoners--- a terrific villain. David Boreanaz is obviously having *way* too much fun with this, and his acting has improved so much since last season that there is never any doubt that Angel is gone and Angelus is baaa-aaack. (But as much of a trip as he is, I have to say: if I ever get the chance to feed this bastard to Janette DuCharme from FOREVER KNIGHT, he's goin' *down*....)

That said... where the heck *is* Angel's soul now? Philadelphia? Does it get frequent flyer miles for winging its way back and forth from the afterlife so many times? And when it comes back again, will it get control of the re-animated sense of humor, or will that go back into a coma?

2. Buffy's on her own now. I am glad that we've got so much new, unpredictable stuff to look forward to, at least for the rest of the season (I'm guessing this won't last beyond this season, but I could be wrong). Having their best ally turn into their worst enemy is going to put a lot of pressure on everyone: Buffy, who's still trying to deal with losing Angel; Giles, who's going to have to pick up more slack as her main back-up; Xander and Willow and Cordelia are all in more danger now... The Buffyverse is _still_ not a safe 'verse; and I'm going to keep watching for as long as that's true.

3. The Cordelia-Xander-Willow-Oz square just blew up. And in *such* a cool way! I'd been looking forward to this for a while, and having Willow read Xander the riot act he deserved *and* confess to her feelings in such an honest and painful scene---wow. Awesome. :> But I'm also feeling sorry for Cordelia, too, who's showing more possessiveness of Xander than she ever has before; and I'm thrilled that Oz is being so very, very intensely cool with Willow. Having X&W's friendship damaged at the worst possible time just makes sense, doesn't it? They're living on the Hellmouth, of course it'll happen during a crisis. It could have fractured the team completely; the fact that it didn't is solely due to Willow, who went beyond the call of duty and sucked it up when she could have stayed home. Whether that will continue to be true---is another question altogether.

4. Jenny is Rom It's a tribute to how important and cool everything else in the episode was that revealing major background on Jenny Calender is #4 on the list of developments. Giving her this kind of backstory changes the dynamics *again*, sabotaging her relationships with all of the Slayerettes as well as the Slayer, and maybe (hopefully) will lead to a "cure" for Angel some time in the future. Not to mention the impact it's going to have on her relationship with Giles...

Really Awesome Scenes

I can't do a "Best Scenes" list! It's too long! It'd be the whole episode! So in relatively chronological order, here's stuff that made me watch it over and over, despite how much I want to feed Angelus to a feminist vampire:

* Angelus slurping on the chick in the alley, then spewing out a stream of smoke---kewwwwl! I mean, bad, bad, bad, yeah, this is bad...

* Angelus, Spike, and Dru, together again---the whole scene, from Dru's blissed-out singing and spinning, to Angelus's smart-ass entrance and the bit with the match, was terrific. The world trembles * Willow freaking at Xander. Ow ow owow ow ow! *Finally* Xander gets it, and it had to be when Willow hit him over the head with the truth. Also loved the follow-up "gross emotional problems" scene---which was right before another terrific scene---

* The horrible scene where Angelus meets Buffy---actually, this was too painful to watch. I had to hit the Mute button. Sue me, it was bad enough watching SMG's face as Angelus rips her heart out...

* Very very *BAD* scene just a little later, when Angelus goes after Willow and Xander. Massively scary and creepy; and the ending, with Angelus throwing Buffy against the wall after sneering at her, was what made me _really_ hate the guy

* Buffy crying alone in her room. Completely heart-breaking and real. SMG should get an Emmy again, damnit!

* Buffy _slamming_ Jenny against the desk, demanding the truth; Jenny's guilt and genuine regret; and the wonderful, almost totally without-words acting by Anthony Steward Head in the background. I don't know the last time I saw something with so much unsaid subtext that was still so clear.... and all the messy consequences of Buffy and Angel's night together are laid out right there

* Willow and Oz in the van. Saved the ep, in many ways; Oz's declaration of his feelings and his totally on-target analysis of Willow's emotional state just makes any normal female... melt.

* Cordy & Xander at the base---not only some much-needed comic relief, but also very cool in terms of both plot necessity (get the gun, Xander remembered lots of stuff from Halloween, etc.), and character development. Xander's line was *priceless* ("I'm 17. Looking at _linoleum_ makes me want to have sex.") Every once in a while, he grows a brain cell and I regain some hope for his hypothetical future

* Smurf getting blown up with the bazooka. I *adore* totally over-the-top scenes like this! ("What's that?" >>>>BOOOM!<<<<) Plus, a great shot of both Angelus and a now even-more-scary Dru hauling butt to get out of the way.

* The fight scene in the movie theater, with the gratutitous setting-off of the sprinkler system. Absolutely perfect on every level. No way could Buffy have killed Angelus yet---but seeing her kick him where it hurts made the viewer feel tons better

* Giles and Buffy talking in the Gilesmobile. Owie, owie, owie... Perfectly played, totally sympathetic and rational, and one more reason why Giles rocks. You couldn't ask for a better friend, not in any reality.

* Buffy being comforted by her mom at the very end. Joyce *knew* something was wrong, and just as obviously knew that Buffy wasn't going to tell her, so she did the only thing she could: just held her when she needed it. Another sniffle-inducing scene...

Rating: Need you ask? *Six* stars out of five. I'm running out of superlatives here... I'm beyond impressed by the acting and writing talent of this show. Just when you think it can't get better, it does. Someone should get an Emmy. Okay? Got it? You do? Great. Write to the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, and let them know.

Perri's Review

We should have known we were in trouble when Joss both wrote and directed - this inevitably translates into torture, trauma and tears. An outstandingly excellent awful, no-good, very bad episode.


Dianne kindly took pity on me to do it, thus saving me from further trauma.


Xander and Cordelia had better be careful or they're actually going to find themselves liking each other. The hormones are leveling off to a certain extent, and they're actually starting to deal with the other aspects of relationshipping. Not successfully as of yet, but it's a start.

Willow and Xander have some serious talking to do - Willow finally got up the nerve to tell Xander she sees him (or saw him) as boyfriendly, but does it in such a way that there's absolutely nothing he can say without making things worse. If he admits that he knew how she felt, it makes Cordy a much more deliberate slap in the face; if he doesn't admit it, it just proves how little attention he's been paying to her. Baad situation.

Willow and Oz, on the other hand, are coming along swimmingly. Oz says all of the things Willow desperately needs to hear, and doesn't play any of the relationship games that Willow is completely incapable of handling. His patience shall be rewarded when Willow recovers from the shock of Xander and Cordy.

Giles and Jenny also have some major talking to do; Giles is so busy protecting Buffy and dealing with losing one of his Slayerettes that he hasn't had time to get past a) Jenny lying to him and b) needing a target for his anger/frustration/helplessness.

Angelus, Drusilla and Spike are an interesting new triangle; how long is Spike going to put up with Angelus encroaching on his territory?

Angel and Buffy.... Nope, don't want to go here, not going anywhere in the near vicinity. Relationship postponed indefinitely, or until that rat bastard Angelus goes back to the hell where he belongs.


Well, the whole 'Gypsy curse' thing that Joss has been building up to has finally reached a head - we'll see how it shakes out. For now, we've got Angelus (hereinafter referred to as 'that rat bastard') instead of Angel, happily wandering around being a bad guy...

Jenny says Gypsies have lost their magic, and can't do the curse thing anymore.

Vampires can have sex with mortals without killing their partners; or at least, Angel can/could.

Oz is an official Slayerette. Xander retains the memories and information of his soldier possession from 'Halloween', including as much information on modern weaponry as Giles has on older weapons. Interesting.... He also had a birthday sometime between 'Reptile Boy' and this, since he's now 17.


If 'seizing the day' was the theme for 'Surprise', then the order of the day for 'Innocence' is betrayal and loss of said innocence.

I want Angel back, but I'll settle for that rat bastard dead in an incredibly painful way. He knows precisely how to hurt Buffy in the worst possible way and enjoys doing it. My only consolation is that I'm fairly sure Dianne is right and the dream directing Buffy to Jenny's part in this was Angel trying to help from wherever he is. On the other hand, the rat bastard's behavior is either going to make it easier or harder for Buffy and the Slayerettes to deal with Angel when (when) he comes back - they'll have more to forgive, but it'll be easier to distinguish Angel from Angelus.

What's to say about Buffy? The worst thing that can possibly happen to a seventeen-year-old girl happened and, like Buffy, happened worse than imaginable. She gives her virginity to the man she loves and who loves her, only to be totally and completely rejected the morning after; then she has to accept that he's gone and try to kill the demon that's walking around wearing his face, after he attacks her best friends. And she blames herself for all of it. So much for being seventeen; I think she skipped directly to seventy around Act Three. She can't even tell her mother; thank god the Slayerettes are around, or she'd have lost it already.

Jenny got stuck in circumstances completely beyond her control, and now has to carry around the guilt and blame for a situation that is almost entirely not her fault. The only thing she did wrong was not tell Giles she was a Gypsy, which she should have done the second she knew Buffy was the Slayer and in love with Angel, and all the complications that could ensue. But she didn't do anything to Angel; she tried to talk Uncle Creepy out of the vengeance gig; she tried to get Angel away from Buffy harmlessly; as soon as she knew Angelus was a danger, she went to try to save Willow and the others; and as soon as she knew she was busted, she fessed up. Unfortunately, this is not something anyone else is going to be able to break down rationally - they don't have some of the information and they desperately need someone to blame; lucky Jenny/Janna is it. Giles, I think, will come to his senses given time, once he forgives her for lying to him, but if Buffy doesn't, it could force him to choose between them, and I don't doubt who he'll choose.

Giles is a man with a problem. He's, if not encouraged, then at least accepted his Slayer's relationship with a vampire, and come to care about Angel in his own right, as an ally and, in some ways, a friend. Add the fact that his girlfriend has been lying to him about something this important, and he's got a load of guilt and anger to carry around himself. He's doing his best to help Buffy deal with emotional issues he is utterly unequipped to handle (mostly because he's been gratefully letting Angel and Willow deal with them up until now), while dealing with Jenny and Angel's apparent betrayals. I think the 'blind panic' comment was more a way of venting (a la Xander) then because he was actually anywhere near that state - interesting that Jenny tries to get him to shut up because the kids are there. In a crisis situation, she still thinks of them as kids and tends to treat them accordingly, while Giles stopped considering them children - where slaying is concerned, at any rate - some time ago. Another note - I'm wondering how long he's going to stay this calm about Oz joining the ranks of the Slayerettes. Or are his 'secret identity' buttons finally burned out?

A stand-out episode for Xander; he majorly screws up with Willow but accepts the consequences very maturely; he does his best to help Giles and everyone else keep it together (after he and Willow lose it together) and even volunteers to do research; he saves Willow from Angelus; and he comes up with the plan to save the day and executes it flawlessly, without losing concentration despite being scared out of his mind. He's still seventeen and prone to being an idiot, but he's becoming more and more aware of the tendency, which is the first step to growing out of it. He's another one who visibly aged this episode - jumped about five years each time he confronted Willow. Interesting that he retains all of the memories and knowledge of his soldier alter-ego, without, apparently, any of the fighting skills; really interesting that he apparently sensed the wrongness about Angelus without any real evidence. Maybe we were wrong about Willow being the future Watcher....

No wonder Willow can understand what Buffy is going through; Xander has betrayed her almost as thoroughly as Angelus betrayed Buffy. It was bad enough when she just had to accept that he didn't want her; when what he does want is the person they made a pact to hate - that's a rejection on the deepest level. I'm going to give her the benefit of some doubt and say that she was looking for reassurance from Oz when she asked if he wanted to make out; but she was also trying to score some points off Xander, just like she was when she suggested calling Oz to get his van. This is not something they're going to be able to work through easily. And, of course, she was betrayed when Angel, whom she has instinctively and totally trusted since the first time she laid eyes on him, used that trust to try to kill her. Not a good day for Willow.

On the other hand, having Oz makes up for a lot. I must say again, Oz is the world's coolest human; is there any female alive who doesn't want him at this point? Extremely perceptive, about himself and everyone around him, calls them like he sees them, doesn't play games, and adjusts to the job of Slayerette impressively quickly. He comes through by calling the mall as the place where the vampires will hit, and really comes through in the van; most guys would have gone for Willow's invitation without noticing and/or caring about ulterior motives. Oz manages to give her the reassurance she needs without letting her use him. And his deadpan delivery of lines like "Arm!" is classic!

Like Jenny, Cordelia is in a rough situation and can't quite figure out how to get out of any of it. She can't stop being a Slayerette, because they really do need her, as the one with the best grip on reality if nothing else; she can't stop being with Xander because her hormones are out of control; and she can't have a relationship with Xander. The last is probably the worst; she's trying to tell him (and herself) that it's because she doesn't want to be seen with him, but it really comes down to the fact that Cordelia knows very well Xander doesn't even like her half the time. She also knows that she comes in somewhere in fourth or fifth place in his life, behind Buffy and Willow, with Giles and vampire slayage fighting it out for third. In short, it's the story of her life - she's with Xander, but even when they're making out, he doesn't see, know or want her.

Drusilla is wigworthy and we'll leave it at that; also, she's entirely too happy to have Angelus back. She's already started playing games with him and Spike, which Angelus is enjoying and Spike is not happy about. I'm taking bets that Spike decides to get rid of the new competition....

Best Moments:

For the purposes of this ep, 'best moment' is defined as when I was a) giggling, b) awwwing, c) wincing or d) screaming/sobbing helplessly (into a pillow to keep from scaring the neighbors). Which basically translates to the entire damn episode....

Angelus killing, then blowing out the smoke. Just in case anyone had any doubts that This Is A Bad Guy. Definite screamage time.

Xander and Willow trying to gather the others to go rescue Buffy, and getting mad when the others insist on being practical and waiting. Like the good old days when there were only two Slayerettes besides Giles.

Angelus' entrance into the factory, with the wonderfully hilarious 'good guy' speech, and the chilling, "That's right, baby. I'm back." David is having entirely too much fun torturing everyone in sight (including us!).

Angelus and Buffy in Angel's apartment. Another screamer. Much too painful to ever watch again. Excellent performances from both David and Sarah.

Jenny's exit from the hotel room on "We're all fools." Really nice.

Willow catching Cordy and Xander, and the subsequent confrontation. If nothing else, at least the air between these two finally gets cleared, but the pain in Willow's face on her "You'd rather be with someone you hate than be with me," is indescribable.

Angelus, Spike and Drusilla, all the time. Some fascinating dynamics, and everyone being utterly villainous. Amazing that Angelus makes Spike seem almost human by comparison.

Willow telling Xander where to get off when she comes back, and him accepting it, followed by him having a thought and a plan. Bouncing from wincing to giggling...

To more screaming as Angelus attacks Willow. Outstanding job all around - Jenny almost comes through, Buffy faces off against her worst nightmare, Xander rescues Willow, Angelus is mean, cruel and awful and enjoying betraying everyone who trusted Angel. < shudder >

Giles dealing with Angelus' return; he's really shaken by losing Angel, and not hiding it at all well.

Willow realizing what happened between Buffy and Angel/Angelus. You can see her put the pieces together, realize what Angelus did to Buffy, and feel how badly Buffy is hurting, and her quiet "Giles, shut up." is just perfect.

Buffy curling up on her bed sobbing. A painfully perfect flashback to her curling up on the bed in Angel's apartment in 'What's My Line', when he was the only place she felt safe. How things change....

Xander explaining The Plan. What makes this scene is the interaction between him and Willow, as he has to say he needs Cordy instead of Willow, and she retaliates by bringing Oz into it.

Xander and Cordy carrying out The Plan. Xander is utterly awesome getting past the sentry, and his and Cordelia's conversation about sex and turn-ons is priceless!

Willow and Oz in the van. Oz continues to deal perfectly with Willow; he rejects her offer, tells her why, and assures her he'll wait until it's for real - he's only rejecting the circumstances, not her. The man is awesome.

Buffy confronting Jenny. Giles's face in the background is great the entire time, as it sinks in what Jenny is and how she's really involved. Then his reaction as he realizes what brought Angelus back - off come the glasses so he doesn't have to look Buffy in the eyes.

Buffy's "Get out." to Jenny, Giles' echo of it, and Jenny's painful retreat. Owowowowowow.

The mall stand-off against the Judge. The Slayerette procession inside, Buffy's face as she whips out the rocket launcher, Angelus and Drusilla's faces as they dive for cover, the Slayerettes having to do cleanup and Cordelia's "Our job sucks!" Laughs and wanton destruction, just to get us all nice and warmed up for the main event....

Which is Angelus versus Buffy. This is the first time these two have fought all out (well, since the sort-of fight in 'Angel', which neither of their hearts were really in), and they are terrifyingly evenly matched. I'm not surprised Buffy couldn't kill him, and his expression when she kicked him went a long way towards satisfying my lust for Angelus' head and/or other portions of his anatomy on a platter. It would have been more satisfying if it hadn't been Angel's face... < sniff >

Oz's "Arm!" A hilarious moment just when we desperately needed the break from the tension of the fight.

Buffy and Giles in the car. When Buffy is all set for Giles' total rejection because she did and caused the unthinkable, he instead tells her how much he cares for and respects her. It was the perfect response, and exactly what she needed to hear. The one good thing about losing Angel is that it's going to pull Buffy closer to the other Slayerettes.

Buffy's birthday cupcakes. Sarah's performance is heartbreaking, especially on the "I got older" line and her face as she realized that nothing she could wish for is possible, then the dry-eyed lean into her mother. Helpless sobbing into the pillow, and I'm not ashamed to admit it.

Questions and Comments:

So the Judge's entire purpose in this was to prove Angelus was really evil again? Sure looked that way. And is Brian Thompson ever going to be allowed to survive a two-parter?

Angelus smokes? Icky...

Does the memory retention thing mean Buffy is now an expert on the everyday life of the nobility in 1774?

Are we ever going to get a last name for Oz? For that matter, how fast does he go through vans? The one in 'Halloween' was a British car, steering wheel on wrong side, with stripes. This one ... is not.

Rating: 5 out of 5. Joss promised us messy and that's just what we got. The B-plot of the Judge was a little weak, but the performances, the writing, and the directing were utterly outstanding. This episode proves that Joss is an evil genius; fortunately, my shock circuits get a little deader everytime I watch it. I might actually be able to get through the whole episode without screaming in, oh, four or five months. :P

Back to Episodes.