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Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Buffy the Vampire Slayer is a drama about a young girl who inherits the powers to fight the demons that threaten the Earth. She lives in Sunnydale, California which happens to be the Hellmouth and must learn to master her powers while also trying to have some semblance of a normal life. The WB 1997 - 2001. UPN 2002-03.

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Episode 14 - Innocence (2)

16 April 2013

Synopsis: Angel's soul is gone after his moment of happiness and he goes to share the news with Spike and Drusilla. Buffy wakes up alone and is worried by his absence. When she tracks him down he cruelly mocks her and she is reduced to confused tears. Willow catches Xander and Cordelia kissing and is upset. Angel heads to the school and tries to kill Willow but Jenny intervenes. Buffy dreams about Jenny and confronts her over her knowledge about the curse. She tells Buffy and Giles what she knows while Angel kills her uncle. Angel and Drusilla take the Judge to the mall while Xander brings a rocket launcher to give Buffy a weapon with which to kill him.Angelus arrives

The Good: In the metaphor of high school as a hellmouth this story always stood out as the most effective. Buffy loses her virginity to her boyfriend who the next day turns round and laughs at her. The science fiction behind the story is even better.

Over time the emotion of what happened to Angel and Buffy's love may be harder to feel but the genius in the storytelling is as easy to see as ever. The vengeance of the Kalderash is an eternal plague upon Angel. The demon in him is punished by having his humanity restored. The human in Angel is thus punished by having to recall all the horrible things which the demon did with his body. But the vengeance cannot be undone. The now human soul of Angel is not allowed one moments freedom from guilt or he will revert to being a vampire thus bringing misery to those who brought him to a state of happiness. It's an utterly brilliant concept that is aptly summed up when Uncle Enios explains to Jenny that "It is not justice we serve, it is vengeance."

The scene where Angel and Buffy reunite is delicious in its cruelty. He implies she was bad in bed. He implies he never loved her. He implies he did it all to get her in the sack. It's all so cruel and leaves Buffy understandably shattered. Everything she goes through is so understandable. Initially in denial she can barely raise a fist to Angel even though she now knows the truth. She demands that Jenny curse him again and still can't bring herself to kill him when she beats him down in the mall. The final shot of her curled up with her mum was so sad. It really drove home what she had been through and what she had lost.

Still moving to this day was Giles' reaction to all of this. Initially confused, when he realised what had given Angel a moment of happiness he looked embarrassed, as you can imagine he would be. He then turns his back on Jenny in a sign of solidarity with Buffy, knowing that she had betrayed them through omission. Finally he drives her home and tells her that he understands why she couldn't kill Angel, reassures her that Angel loved her and offers her "support and respect." Their relationship has never been so moving.

Xander and Willow once more offer Buffy their unwavering support. They also come across as brave, offering to rush to the factory to save her and standing up to Angelus. The initial love triangle between the three remains in place in ways which are believable and a huge credit to the writers. In other teen dramas so many trists and love interests can come and go without affecting the character dynamics the way they are here. Not only is Cordelia a bit jealous of the affection Xander holds for Buffy but then Willow, despite meeting Oz, is deeply hurt that Xander could choose someone he dislikes over her. 

Having played only stern or loving facial expressions Angel is suddenly transformed as the laughing, joking, angry figure of Angelus. His cruelty to Buffy and her friends lives up to the Judge's assessment that he has no humanity in him. It goes without saying that his presence now transforms the rest of the season into something much more significant and personal for Buffy and the Scoobies.

The Bad: Like so many villains before him the Judge was all talk and no delivery. Although using a modern (non-forged) weapon to destroy him was clever it was also convenient and raised way too many questions. Malls do have guards and cameras, not to mention the dozens of witnesses who would have seen that blonde high school girl firing a rocket launcher. Considering the weapon was stolen from the army makes it all harder to sweep under the "weird stuff happens in Sunnydale" rug.

The effects didn't help as the Judge's lightning bolts meant the innocent shoppers were literally frozen on screen when he zapped them. Although Xander remembering military knowledge is covered (see 206), continuity-wise, it still felt very convenient. Not only has he not mentioned it before but to have him retain specific information about California army bases was a swallow too far for me. I also felt Oz' insight into Willow's behaviour was a little too cute. We hadn't really seen the four of them interact so for him to instantly understand the dynamic between Willow and Xander again just felt convenient.

The Unknown: What do the Kalderash do now that Angel has lost his soul? How long is it going to take for Spike to heal? What did the Scoobies do with all the Judge bits?

Best Moment: The scene with Angel mocking Buffy is brilliant and iconic. But Giles offering Buffy his support made me well up.

The Bottom Line: As you may now know the whole of Season Two of Buffy hinges on this twist. In many ways it is the twist which defined Buffy as a show. What it has lost in emotional impact on rewatch, it has not lost in sheer brilliance.

 

Innocence
Season 2, Episode 14
Original airing: 1/20/1998

My Rating: 99

The Good: The entire cast gets to put their talents on display in this episode with a brilliant script and fantastic writing to support them.

David Boreanaz is an amazing actor. Throughout the show, we've heard tantalizing bits of stories about Angelus and just how cruel he was before having his soul restored. Now, David gets to run with the character and he succeeds masterfully. Angelus feels like a wholly different person from Angel and, boy, is he cruel. His extremely cruel taunts to Buffy are only the tip of the iceberg as he threatens to kill all her friends and takes out the one person who might have helped - Jenny's uncle.

He also fits right in with Spike and Drusilla. Even though the audience hasn't seen it, there is real history and kinship there. Spike and Drusilla are thrilled at Angelus' return and the weight of their years together before he became Angel is heady and real. Brilliant acting by them all.

Sarah Michelle Gellar was not to be outshone, though. Her portrayal of Buffy's fear and pain is so heartfelt and gut-wrenching it almost makes me cry even after multiple viewings.

Also in the tortured-emotional-pain-world are Willow and Xander. When Willow discovers Xander has been pseudo-dating Cordelia, she's incredibly hurt. She even tries to use Oz to help her get back at Xander, but he's having none of that. Instead, Oz again says the perfect sweet thing to remind Willow that there's a guy for her and it's not Xander.

To round out the crew, Jenny is ostracized by Giles and Buffy when Buffy realizes she wasn't telling them the whole truth. Jenny and Giles' relationship has been almost as tumultuous as Buffy and Angel's. Seeing Giles stand with Buffy against Jenny is painful and powerful. Giles and Jenny's relationship would appear to be off the track again having only recently reconciled.

Finally, the wrap up of the Judge's story was silly, but amusing and clever. Xander's military knowledge from Halloween was a clever way to explain how Buffy was going to beat the Judge. He was built up as a very powerful demon, so this work around was unexpected and fun. Yes, it's silly and raises the eternal question of how do the common people explain a large blue man with horns being blown up with a rocket launcher in the middle of a mall, but this one time, I'm willing to forgive it. Just because we get to see Buffy launch a rocket. Fun.

The Bad: Nope.

Favorite Moment: At the end of the episode, Buffy's blissfully ignorant mother encourages Buffy to blow out her birthday candle. Buffy chooses instead to let it burn on and turns to her mother for a comforting hug. At only 17, Buffy knows true heartbreak and that it can't be wished away.

The Bottom Line: This was a fantastic episode. All of the characters were bold, involved and developed while the story helped to push everything forward. Humor and drama were both spot on.

('DiggThis)

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Comments

  • I loved this episode because it really took everything from pt 1 and really brought it home. I thought it was so emotional. When I first watched this episode I had no idea that angel went bad and when it happened I was crying with Buffy! There were so many great scenes here I loved the scene where Buffy breaks down in her room and where Buffy tells angel that she can't kill him but she will be able to eventually. Every scene between Angel/Buffy and Buffy/Giles we're just perfect I don't think they could have done it better. I understood what you said about some of the easy outs the writers took but I loved the Willow/Oz scene. And honestly I forgot a lot about the judge from when I first watched it but I didn't think it took away from the story it just wasn't the best part. But honestly nothing is going to top the emotions of the characters, expesually not a monster that is not Angelus.

    Viewer score: 90 / 100

    Posted by Coryann, 16/04/2013 10:22pm (7 years ago)

  • Another Buffy super villain that doesn't last more than two episodes. Also slight continuity issue how did Angel get into the room to kill the gypsie uncle without being invited?

    Posted by David Lopez, 29/05/2011 4:51pm (8 years ago)

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