Written by Jane Espenson
Directed by Michael Lange

Perri's Review | Julie's Review | SunSpeak

Perri's Review

Well, at least they had the courtesy to let us laugh ourselves silly before ripping our hearts out on Angel.

A lone guy wanders through the tree, his demeanor practically screaming, "Hi, I'm a victim." He jumps at a noise and spins to see... Buffy, staring brightly up at him. She punches him, he vamps out and the expected fight scene ensues. Final score: Slayer - one, Whiny Vamp - dust. Buffy dusts off her hands -- then stops, looking around her as if sensing eyes watching her. She's right; as we look into the bushes, we see the familiar form of Angel. Lurking. Nice to know some things never change.

The next morning, Anya, Buffy and Willow attend a groundbreaking ceremony -- the anthropology department is building a new cultural center. While Buffy and Willow are at least marginally interested in the ceremony, Anya is a lot more interested in the sight of Xander in a tank top, getting ready to dig and get sweaty. Loudly interested, treating a slightly grossed-out Willow and Buffy to her fantasies regarding our boy. Willow attempts distraction by proclaiming Thanksgiving to be a rotten holiday, celebrating the oppression of the Native Americans. While she's at least partially channeling her mother, she does have strong feelings on the subject, whereas Buffy is busy being bummed that her mother is out of town and Buffy will therefore not have a Thanksgiving. The discussion ends as Xander finally begins to dig (to Anya's delight) -- then falls through into an underground chamber (to his distinct displeasure).

Xander is unhurt, and has made the anthropological find of the decade, as it turns out -- a lost Spanish mission, buried in an earthquake. Buffy and Willow discuss it that night, although Buffy is still distracted by the sensation of someone watching. Then she distracts herself with a brilliant idea -- she'll have her own Thanksgiving dinner, inviting all of the Slayerettes. Willow is rebellious, but a mopey Buffy wins the day, and an obsession is born. As Buffy expounds on giving everyone a place to go, a starving Spike wanders the campus wrapped in a blanket, and our favorite Commando Boys wander the campus searching for Spike.

Anya drops by Xander's apartment, worried that he isn't at the site digging so she can watch. But Xander has a legitimate reason -- he's sick and getting sicker. Anya, surprisingly enough, slips into concerned girlfriend mode, and begins taking care of him with real relish. Below ground, in Xander's new chamber, a green mist forms, and slips out into the open. The professor in charge of the site, concerned about losing her cultural center, doesn't see that same mist floating into the display case of a ritual knife until it's too late. The form of a tall, strong Native American forms -- and slits her throat.

Buffy and Willow, naturally enough, investigate the crime scene that night, since the body was also missing an ear. Aside from a quick round of really unlike scenarios, courtesy of Willow, the only clue the girls discover is the missing knife, a Chumash artifact. Later, in Giles' apartment, Buffy and her Watcher bounce between discussing food and traditions, and discussing murder. Dinner wins, at least in Buffy's currently one-track mind.

The Slayer heads off to get more groceries... and Angel appears from a room in back. He figures whatever killed the professor is probably the threat he was sent to protect Buffy from. Giles hesitantly agrees, but not before pointing out that it's not Angel's job to look after Buffy anymore. "It's not yours anymore either," Angel ripostes. "Are you going to walk away?" Giles concedes the point, but tries to convince Angel to tell Buffy he's there. Angel refuses (albeit unhappily; he's not having fun), advises Giles to look up a Father Gabriel, who's an authority on Sunnydale history, and leaves to continue following Buffy.

Spike continues to wander the streets, watching from the outside as vampires feed. Willow and Buffy are also wandering, still randomly changing topics from fresh vegetables to murder. It's interrupted when Riley appears from across the street (and a couple blocks down). Willow discretely disappears -- and is promptly grabbed by Angel. She assumes he's evil, he promises he's not evil, and explains why he's there. Willow, like Giles, tries to convince him to tell Buffy he's there, he again refuses, and asks Willow's help. First on the agenda -- telling him who Riley is. Buffy invites Riley to her Thanksgiving dinner, which he refuses, since he's going home to his grandparents' farm in Iowa. (We pause briefly for all of the Captain Farmboy jokes. When we resume...)

Spike has returned home too, such as it is -- to Harmony's digs, trying to seduce himself back into her good graces and her refrigerator. But Harmony has been reading self-help books, and wants none of him. To Spike's disgust, she throws him out on his ass and at the point of a stake. Across town, Buffy heads off to talk to Father Gabriel -- and finds him in the middle of being murdered. Buffy attacks, and finds herself face to face with our buddy Mist Guy. He's one hell of a fighter; "I am revenge," he proclaims, "I am my people's cry. They call for Hus, for the avenging spirit to carve out justice." Vengeance or not, Buffy still manages to get him on his knees with his own knife at his throat. But she hesitates at his accusations of killing his people, and he turns into a flock of birds and flies away.

Buffy tells the story to Giles, including her hesitation and her sympathy for the spirit. Giles points out that Hus is a vengeance demon -- a cold-blooded killer of innocents -- and Buffy agrees he has to be stopped, but want to do it without slaying him. Willow arrives with research and peas (Buffy is still fixating on dinner), and informs the other two that the Chumash were a peace-loving tribe that were enslaved, treated like animals, killed by diseases and unjustly executed. In fact, Willow is so appalled that she's all in favor of helping the demon, which Giles flatly disagrees with. Neither of them se the wolf outside, listening to their conversation. Which is threatening to get ugly as Willow takes a stand in favor of the spirit and Giles continues to point out the killer thing. A knock at the door keeps things from becoming murderous, when Xander arrives -- with Anya holding him up.

The doctor can't figure out what's wrong, but Buffy knows -- Xander was infected by Hus (smallpox, malaria, syphilis, etc.). More evidence against Hus, as Xander proclaims that you kill vengeance demons (and Anya raises an eyebrow at his phrasing) but Willow remains unconvinced, Giles gets loud again and Buffy tries to bury herself in pie. Another ugly fight gets broken off by yet another arrival -- of all people, Spike. Huddled under his blanket and desperate for help.... and ready to trade information on the Initiative to get it.

Meanwhile, Hus continues to compile reasons he should be killed -- by calling up a bunch of spirits to help him in his crusade. They show up, armed and dangerous.

Spike finally gets allowed in, and is promptly tied to a chair, despite loud protests. Willow is still fighting for Hus' right to life, to Spike's open disgust. He can't see why the hell anyone would care about the conquered, and he really can't see why anyone would do anything with a vengeance demon but kill it. Oddly enough, it's Spike that finally manages to convince Willow and Buffy. Willow, Anya and Xander head out to warn the dean, who they think is the next target, leaving Buffy to listen to Spike whining about being hungry. Whining which is, fortunately for his health, cut off by an unexpected vengeance demon attack. Arrows begin to fly and everyone ducks for cover -- except Spike, who sort of can't.

The trio leaves the dean's house and run into Angel; after the quick "I'm not evil" conversation, Angel realizes that the real target is Buffy, and everyone makes tracks back to Giles'. Buffy gets hit by an arrow, Spike is turning into a pincushion and the situation is bad. Fortunately, the cavalry finally arrives; while they're not the best fighters in the world, they manage to distract the unkillable raiding party enough for Buffy to concentrate on damaging Hus. Angel is more effective, but it's Buffy who discovers the trick -- Hus can be killed with his own knife. Unfortunately, Hus can also turn into a bear, which he promptly demonstrates. But, with Xander acting as distraction, Buffy finally manages to slay him. The raiding party disappears... and so does Angel, disappearing back into the night.

After the clean-up, the Slayerettes gather for dinner -- including Spike, who isn't happy about it. Xander is already recovering, Willow is bummed over her ability to fight the spirit, and Buffy is bummed over the destruction of her perfect Thanksgiving. "It was like old times," Willow comforts her. "Especially with Angel being here and everything," Xander agrees. "Oops."

None to speak of, actually. Spike is still wandering around helpless, Riley's gang continues to look for him.

Well, Angel came barreling back to town to protect Buffy, but, as usual, lurked instead of letting her know he was around. Thus inflicting an unhappy Slayer upon himself in the next episode of Angel.

Willow is still deeply bummed over Oz leaving.

Riley continues in his dogged pursuit of Buffy.

Harmony tossed Spike out on his butt! She can be taught!

Anya and Xander continue to be surprisingly sweet, and he's thinking of her as a girlfriend. Which she has no objections to.

How much do I love Spike? I keep saying that after every episode he's in and it keeps being true. He really is a hyper-observant and quite intelligent person, vampire aside, and he has absolutely no patience for anyone waffling about anything that, to him, is perfectly obvious. Vengeance demon = killer = needs to be dead. Very simple, black and white. Must be nice to have no conscience to put in those annoying shades of gray. :P But how desperate must he have been to go to Buffy, of all people, for help. Even with information to trade, he must have been half at the point where he was hoping they would stake him and put him out of his misery. Poor Spike. < snicker >

Thank god, a real, solid plot for Giles. I still worry about him having no life, but at least we get to see him interacting with the others. Particularly with Buffy and Willow, which is something I've badly missed. He's just lovely coping with Buffy's obsession -- wryly indulging her obsession with having a normal family thing (even when he knows he's going to get stuck with the clean-up), and still managing to keep her steered on track to the little matter of a vengeance demon. But he's even better with Willow; gone are the days when these two were firmly teacher/pupil. Willow disagrees with him, making no bones about it and he fights back as if to an equal, biting sarcasm and all. The sniping between these two is beautiful to watch, all the more so since it's so rare for them to be on such emphatically opposite sides of anything. Angel, dude, you really should have learned by now how very much Buffy hates being left in the dark. As near as I can tell, he actually wanted to be caught, judging from the fact that everyone saw him except Buffy, and both Xander and Willow have a better-than-even chance of spilling the beans to Buffy, either on purpose feeling she had a right to know, or accidentally, as eventually did happen. I'll grant that it took a lot of courage for him to stay out of Buffy's life as much as possible -- you could see the price he was paying in his face -- but once again, he's making decisions for her. Not as heinous as the ones he makes in 'I Will Remember You', but still... But I did feel for him, seeing Buffy with Riley. I wonder what Willow told him?

Willow has a nice little bout of psychosis, although I suspect her fixation on defending the vengeance demon was predicated more on her deep desire to think about something other than Oz, rather then her deep feelings on the subject. (Not that I doubt said feelings were preset; Willow has a lot of experience feeling for the underdog.) What impressed me more than anything, though, was her willingness to get up in Giles' face and rather rudely disagree with him. When I think back to the Willow of first season... geez.

I'm really liking Anya more and more, although I do wish she'd learn to keep some thoughts internal, you know. Oversharing in a big, big way. Still, she does a great job taking care of Xander (if with a rather strange enthusiasm), and she's genuinely touched and thrilled when Xander calls her his girlfriend. Her potential keeps growing and growing; it's going to break out into the open any day now.

Best Moments:
Anya's running dialogue watching Xander, and Buffy and Willow's amusement at her. We really need to get that girl a censor for her mouth.

"It's a ritual sacrifice. With pie." ROTFL! Undeniably accurate, in a really skewed sense.

Riley and the guys hunting Spike. Forrest gets more and more amusing.

Anya doing the nurse routine with Xander. Very, very cute.

Giles trying to figure out why Buffy is making him host her dinner. She comes up with a good cover, but I'm inclined to think he's absolutely correct; she ants to con him into doing the dishes. But through the whole scene, the interplay between the two is just perfect, the best we've gotten in ages.

The ensuing scene with Angel and Giles. Making pointy points and just in general being cool. < sigh > I used to really love the two of them together; I think I miss Angel with the Slayerettes more than I miss Angel and Buffy.

Case in point: Angel and Willow! < snerk > Love everyone assuming he's evil again.

Harmony kicking Spike pout -- she does it with such style! I'm so proud.

Any time Giles and Willow were fighting it out. Willow was just going to such extremes and Giles was so frustrated.

Spike showing up on the doorstep. He's so pathetic and he and Buffy are so screamingly hilarious when they're in the same room.

Spike and any of his blunt 'pointing out the bloody obvious' monologues.

Giles pouting when people listen to Spike when they didn't listen to him. He's so cute when he sulks.

Spike the Pincushion! A pretty good fight scene was wildly hysterical with Spike throwing in his two cents' worth from the sidelines. Falling over backwards was the final hilarious touch,

Xander's lovely slip The only thing better than his "Oops" was Spike's evil smirk.

Questions and Comments:
So, why was it so crucial for Angel to be back in Sunnydale? He didn't do much of anything except get the Slayerettes back to Giles' apartment more quickly than they otherwise might have -- not much of a day-saving kind of thing. Thus leading me to conclude that Angel had to go back to Sunnydale to set up the second half of the crossover. < rolling eyes >

Love the ET-esque theme as the Slayerettes race off on the bikes. < snerk >

Anyone else notice that no one could maintain a coherent conversation this week? They were continually going off into random asides about being evil, or mushy peas, or lack of ricers, or abandoned girlfriends.. < snerk >

Rating: 4 out of 5. Some really lovely Spike moments, Buffy is highly entertaining on her Thanksgiving kick, and there's good character work on everyone else. But it actually suffers for being so heavily promoted as a crossover -- this ain't the episode I was expecting.

Julie's Review

I laughed my patoot off. I love Spike. Actually I'm feeling sorry for him all woebegone in that bedraggled blanket with that oppressed third world look in his face. Best line to him (naturally): "I'm saying that Spike had a little trip to the vet's and now he doesn't chase the other puppies anymore." ROTF And having Harmony kick him out was priceless. He also had it coming. < G >

This ep had all the best stuff that I dearly love: fun and peril at the right times to balance each other nicely. Best example was one of the arrow shots that they made me think it hit Giles until the camera panned back & you get Spike's "bloody hell." Build emotion & release with humor. Good job to help lead up to Angel.

Speaking of Angel, loved how everyone automatically assumes he went bad again. LOL. Best was Willow. Even thinking he went bad again, she starts reading him the riot act again. Loved it. Still lots of Willow angst there, but I'm glad her spunk is back.

Willow. Still having angst coming out her ears, but handling it better. Thinking about it, I'm not really surprised about her & her family's stance on Thanksgiving. Being Jewish, they can very easily understand about the genocide that went on and not want to celebrate it even obliquely.

Xander, construction guy...actually he didn't look bad. But looks like he may have lost another job. The site is off due to his 'discovery', so the job was probably just contingent. Even if it's not, calling in on your second day tends to get you canned. But at least he's out of the house. Loved Anya drooling all over him, even when he's deathly ill. Then again, being a former demon, severe illness probably isn't much of a romantic deterrent. It actually looked like it made her happily nostalgic. *g*

Giles. What can I say? Angel hit part of his problem on the head: he wants to protect Buffy even though it's 'not his job anymore.' This need is part of what I think is stopping him from getting some job to keep himself occupied. He's worried about not being there for her if she needs him. Unfortunately, there's not much he can do other than research stuff and even that's difficult as he doen't have the resources he one did as a Watcher. That man has got to find something else to do to fill in the days or he's gonna go up the blind.

I do like that his comments are getting snarkier all the time. I loved about trying to remember not to call "you lot, 'bloody colonials.'" *giggle* And the petulance about nobody listening to him (and he was right) except Spike. That's got to be lowering.

And now to Buffy. I love her determination to have a 'normal' holiday come hell or vengeful spirits. She's picked her thing to focus on and everything else is peripheral. Bad spirit, doing bad things, don't want to slay it exactly, and how much seasoning for the stuffing? Her preoccupation with the holiday and guilt from Willow's lecture made for a very lethal combo. Good thing Angel was there. But then again, his being there may have also been what contributed to her throwing herself so much into the holiday. She kept feeling him about, would brood a bit and decide she needed something to keep her mind off of Angel. Vicious cycle.

Other bits. Riley seems to be having an easier time talking to Buffy. I also love the by-play with him and the other guys. No wimp there, but Maggie does certainly seem to be a force to be reckoned with.

The caves. Hmmm. We seem to have gotten our answer about all that stuff. Caves from previous earthquakes. Must be what the Initiative set up shop in. Much easier than digging. But a bit more precarious. I wonder if Sunnydale's due for a bit of a literal shake-up?


"Speaking of looks given by Spike, was it just me, or just me and the terrible television I was watching, or was that look he gave right at the end the most evil thing you have ever seen. And did anyone else find it interesting that Spike did not at all seem surprised to hear that Angel had been in town? He looked straight at Buffy and not at all at the others at the table." -- Kimberly

"I loved Anya's lusting after Xander, with Buffy's "Imaginary Xander is a machine" line coming in #1 for giggle of the night. I loved her taking care of him. I even kinda liked the Chumash plot, pointy as it was, since it *is* a conflict we haven't seen Buffy deal with too often, and it finally gave Giles something to *do* and say after weeks of near-cameo appearances. I liked Willow being overly about the justice-and-fairness angle. I loved how pathetic Spike was (although I think we're getting into some seriously bad habits here, treating him like a de-fanged Rottweiler), and I loved his brutal restatement of every point Giles made. :> I liked the stuff with Riley..." -- Chris

"So after Angel makes this *huge* sacrifice, throws away mortal happiness so he can protect Buffy, we're supposed to go back to rooting for Riley and Buffy to be together, because he's normal and she wants that. Even though the *exact same issues* may come up, or at least _should_ come up, if Angel made such a big deal out of them. The protecting-the-boyfriend issue, and the trying-to-protect-Buffy issue, and the losing-people-we-love-and-not-being-able-to-stop-it issue. We should tolerate this? Or not-tolerate this, or, I don't know what.... It's going to feel like a *cheat* if Buffy and Riley get together, because Angel's by himself. And frankly, I don't want to feel like that. *pout* It's going to feel like a cheat because of what Angel gave up, and why he did it, and the fact that those reasons apply to mortal-Riley in some ways as well as mortal-Angel. And yes, the world is sometimes unfair, but this is ridiculous, because he did it to himself, and it may not have been necessary or smart." -- Chris

"...I do wish *something* other than full-out slayage could have been hit upon. Then again, he *was* a vengeance spirit, not a person (even though he looked like one), which was the point that Willow was missing entirely in her paroxysms of compassion and political correctness. (Which are two quite different things that were having a very messy head-on collision in her poor beleaguered brain...). As even Uncle Enyos knew, vengeance is *not* justice. This was a spirit of rage that probably couldn't even be controlled by the people who called him up if they were still around to try. I can certainly understand why he was called--I don't think "threefold takes care of itself" would sound very convincing to me in that situation either--but that doesn't make it right. And the fact that he eavesdropped on a conversation involving his target warrior talking about how she would prefer to stop him without killing him, and reacted by calling up reinforcements, rather amply demonstrated that there was going to be no reasoning with or appeasing him. He was an vicious, bitter embodiment of vicious, bitter feelings that *must* be laid to rest for the kind of healing that Willow was talking about to even begin." -- Valerie

"On a lighter note...Spike, Spike, Spike. By the time the fight broke out, I was laughing myself sick at the slightest facial expression...every bit of James' performance in this one built on the bit before, into a brilliant whole far beyond anything he's done previously, and which he'll be hard-pressed to match in future. Simply beautiful. I can't *believe* they invited him into Giles' apartment (Jack: "Couldn't they just put a tarp over him?"); and the image of him sitting *at the table*, still tied to the chair, glowering balefully at everything in sight, was incredibly surreal. Not to mention...he *does* bring out Buffy's sadistic streak, doesn't he? Sticking him there and pretending he was actually part of her perfect-Thanksgiving-as-viewed-in-fun-house-mirror...a humiliation he will *not* forget, even though it's just one of a growing catalog." -- Valerie

"Anya needs to learn about the "inner monologue" ... and fast."
Really fast. :> Well, it's not like she cares about anyone else's opinion, but... :> I'm sure there's some other reason not to blurt out every single thought that crosses your mind. On the other hand, Cordelia gets by, so..." -- Mary Beth and Chris

"Even saying that Riley *can* take care of himself, and is not in as much danger as StupidMortalAngel, I don't *like* being asked to conditionally care about Buffy and Riley being together, with a $5 saver bet on Angel. I'm an all-or-nothing kind of chick. I got sick of my romances being manipulated after 8 years of soap addiction, I don't need it here...." -- Chris

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