Okay, first keep in mind that I watched this three times in four hours, twice on the phone long distance with other SunS. I got a little emotionally involved. But this episode was well worth the wait. Now all I have to do is survive until fall....
The Codex Angel brought Giles in 'Invisible Girl' states that Buffy will, on Prom Night, face the Master and die. In the process, the Master will break free of his prison, open the Hellmouth, and let loose hell on Earth. Giles tries to avoid telling Buffy, hoping he can find away around the prophecy; meanwhile, Xander screws up the courage to ask Buffy to the spring dance as his date. She turns him down, as does Willow, who refuses to be his second choice. That night, Buffy accidentally overhears Giles and Angel discussing the prophecy and literally freaks out, informing the two men that she quits, that she will not face the Master. She breaks Angel's cross from around her neck and throws it away, then walks out.
The next morning, several students, including Cordelia's boyfriend, are viciously murdered on school grounds; Willow and Cordelia find the bodies. Realizing how much hangs in the balance, Buffy resigns herself to facing the Master. Giles, however, refuses to allow her to do so, with every intention of taking the Master on himself. Buffy decks him, retrieves Angel's cross and heads off to meet Colin and let him lead her to the Master. Unfortunately, the prophecy was unspecific -- when Buffy faces the Master, she does indeed lose; he drinks from her, and it is her power that allows him to escape. He leaves Buffy behind, unconcious and face down in his pool. Determined to do anything he can to save Buffy, Xander confronts Angel to find out where the Master is. The boys head to the rescue, and find Buffy dead by drowning, until Xander revives her with CPR. Meanwhile, Willow, Ms Calendar (who brought Giles information from the 'Net, and subsequently was informed of all Slayer information), Giles and Cordelia are all trapped in the library, as legions of vampires march on the school -- the location of the Hellmouth, the first thing through being a supremely ugly thing with three heads and tentacles. With Angel and Xander watching her back, Buffy confronts the Master for the last time, killing him and closing the Hellmouth. No angst here; nope, none at all.
The Master is dead, let us now dance for joy. The Anointed One Prophecy storyline is therefore (supposedly) wrapped up, although Colin Devil Child continues to walk free. And the Prophecy was wrong; Buffy did know him when he lead her into Hell.
The Xander/Buffy/Willow triangle moves forward, with Xander finally sucking it up enough to ask Buffy out and getting soundly rejected. Then Willow turns him down informing him that she doesn't want to be his second choice. He's still clueless as to her actual feelings towards him, though. And the Angel/Xander/Buffy triangle hits a new level, with the rivalry between the guys coming into the open and the acknowledgement that both of them love Buffy.
Biology class continues to be intensely boring, which is a cute little bit of continuity from 'Teachers Pet'.
Everyone's been cruising along happily for the first season, confident that nothing can come along that can possibly beat them. Now, Giles informs that not only can something beat them, but it will. Watching everyone wig is, um, interesting. Buffy actually has a throwing things fit, tears off Angel's cross (*wince*), and tries to quit -- for the first time, she's more interested in living than saving the world. But once the reality of the situation sinks through, after Willow finds the dead students, she gets it done, sacrificing herself to save the world. And when she kicks into 'Slayer' mode at the end -- watch out world; she gets actively, truly, frighteningly dangerous.
Giles finds himself forced to send 'his' Slayer out to certain death and realizes in the process that he cares for her too much to do so. He'll do anything to save her -- defy prophecy, defy the books he relies on, ask a vampire for help, and even take the Master on himself, knowing he has no chance. Welcome to the Real World.
Angel responds by trying to find a way around the prophecy, then seems to give up when Buffy walks away, until Xander drags him off to help her. He's got something of a fatalistic streak -- he accepts that he can't save her from the Master, and gives up when he thinks she's dead; I guess he's pretty used to losing people. But he comes through to fight his worst fear, the Master, and does not chomp Xander although the boy's begging for it. Gotta love him.
Xander just has a bad day, the knowledge of Buffy's death hitting him right after her rejection of him. But he refuses to give up on Buffy -- racing after her into danger on the off-chance he can help, facing down Angel, and working with Angel, his rival, to save Buffy, right down to reviving her after she drowns. In short, he's a jerk for the first half of the ep because of his feelings for Buffy, but gets turned into a hero by those same feelings.
Poor Willow. She gets caught between Xander and Buffy, summons up the self-esteem to turn Xander down when he asks her to the dance, then finds out Buffy is going to die and the world is going to end. She basically falls apart for the first time since the pilot. Can't wait to see what she's going to be like next season. She and Xander have some serious talking to do.
Interesting sidenote, by the way -- has anyone else noticed that Willow is utterly unafraid of Angel? She defended him all through 'Angel', didn't even flinch when he was holding her up after the rescue in 'Invisible Girl' (heck, reaches out to touch his shoulder even after Xander and Giles start dragging her away) and here, she not only stands right next to him in the final library scene, she walks out facing him and assuring him that he can go with them to the dance, cheerfully babbling at him all the way out. Not particularly significant, I don't think, but interesting and kind of cute. It might just be because she's never seen him as a vampire, but.... Angel, for his part, has no idea what to make of her, as near as I can tell. He does, however, seem amused by her.
Ms. Calendar joins the club; we have to see more of her, she's a perfect foil for Giles. Cordelia is turning nicely human -- she treats Willow like a person and faces off against the vampires without flipping (much). I have no idea what Joss is going to do with her next season, but I'm starting to like her.
Creepy Boy Colin currently tops my Kill 'Em On-Screen So I Can Enjoy It list, taking over the top spot from Kenny Devil Child of 'Highlander'.
Willow turning Xander down. She so patiently let him practice on her, has listened to him emote, and never once let him know how much it hurts her. But she finally screws up the self-esteem to inform him he's being a jerk. I still don't think he knows how she feels (or just isn't going to admit it to himself, but the look on his face....
Angel and Giles discussing the prophecy. They're interacting as equals, and their reactions -- Giles exploding and Angel going quietly crazy trying to believe there's a way around it -- contrast each other really well. Need more scenes with these two.
Buffy realizing she's going to die and the subsequent confrontation with Giles and Angel. Poor Giles takes a beating and feels he deserves every bit of it; Angel tries to comfort her, but can't. Buffy's jab at Angel about 'You're never gonna die!' and her 'Do you think it'll hurt?' are *painful* to watch, as is Angel's involuntary, and rejected, move to comfort her.
Xander laying on his bed listening to Patsy Cline. Poor baby. He's an insensitive jerk, but he's still a sweetheart.
Buffy decks Giles. 'Nuff said. Actually, the whole scene leading up to it is an interesting role reversal; Giles is acting like a five-year-old insisting on having his own way, while Buffy is the patient, rational adult.
Xander and Angel, all the way through. From the confrontation in Angel's apartment (when Angel shows an amazing amount of tolerance and Xander an amazing amount of courage), to the acknowledgement that both of them are in love with Buffy, to the scene in the tunnels ('I told you to eat before we left!' LOL!), to the smile they exchange after Buffy revives. Fantastic interaction.
Angel finding Buffy's body. Okay, I'm a hopeless romatic, but the way he runs for her, smooths her hair out of her face, cradles her in his arms... *sigh*. Too much.
Buffy and the Boyz!!!!! Her striding down the sidewalk with the guys flanking her, everyone ready to fight. My favorite scene in life, bar none. And then the boys doing their bouncer imitation guarding the stairs....
The final scene, as everyone simultaneously realizes it's over. Willow babbling to Angel, Xander holding the door for Angel, Cordelia acting like one of the gang, and the final 'I like your dress' line, as Angel walks out with Buffy. The Slayerettes are going to be really interesting next season!
How does Xander know where Angel lives? All we found out in 'Angel' was that he lives near the Bronze. But Xander obviously knows right where to go, and Angel doesn't look surprised to see him.
Angel has a phone? And Giles knows the number? It can't have been a beeper, since Giles was clearly waiting for someone to answer the phone when the scene opens.
Angel should have been able to do the AR. He may not need to breathe, but he does; even beside the fact that we can hear him breathing, he wouldn't be able to talk otherwise. Since he's not using the oxygen he inhales, he would have been better at the AR, since he would have been exhaling better air. On the other hand, why would Angel have ever learned CPR?
Buffy comes back from death stronger and able to sense vampires? Guess Joss is working that 'Vamp Detector' thing back in. But I do want an explanation.
Rating: Five stars out of five. Joss is going to have to really work to top this one!
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