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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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70
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Episode 13 - Surprise (1)

15 April 2013

Synopsis: Buffy is woken by a dream where Drusilla kills Angel. She is fretting about that as her friends plan her a surprise 17th birthday party. Jenny is visited by her uncle and we learn that she is from the Kalderdash Gypsies to keep an eye on Angel. At Buffy's party she has to kill a vampire who was stealing something. It turns out to be the arm of a dismembered demon called the Judge. Angel heads to the docks determined to take the arm to Asia and bury it somewhere. But they are attacked by Spike and Drusilla's vampires who take the arm back and reassemble the Judge. Angel takes Buffy home where they sleep together for the first time.You know what happens next

The Good: The sense of impending doom built throughout this to leave you feeling uneasy. In the end with Angel suffering a terrible pain it looks like Buffy will lose him after all.

The use of her dreams to increase the tension worked well, particularly when contrasted with the Birthday plans going on around her. The repetition of a line by Joyce was effective at reminding you of the dream's portents in a moment when you might have forgotten them. Buffy portrayed that sense of fear well, turning to Angel for comfort and reassurance at every turn, her emotions always frayed. The Judge was built up as a significant evil and carries the physical threat that a weakened Spike no longer can. This sense of doom for Angel and Buffy is compounded by the revelation that Jenny Calendar is not all that she seems. She is from the Gypsy tribe that cursed Angel and her role is to spy on him and keep him miserable. I very much like the way her role in his life was handled. Instead of switching her behaviour into someone we don't know, Jenny stayed very much Jenny. She argues on Angel's behalf and chooses the least harmful way of trying to push him and Buffy apart (using the Judge as an excuse).

On the human side of this story Buffy finally surrenders to her desire for Angel and sleeps with him. It too was built up well in their lingering scenes of passion and Willow's amusing multiple Wows. The end of their happiness is a sad moment though without seeing part two the impact is not yet clear.

The rest of the episode was strong too with Xander in electric form (see Best Moment) and his feelings for Cordelia slowly growing. I also liked his elaborate fantasy about one day taking Buffy back from Angel. Willow was as adorable as anything you will see peaking out from under her hat at Oz and he was equally likeable with his no-games approach to asking her out. Giles got a delightfully sweet moment when he insisted that Buffy celebrate her 17th birthday because living on the Hellmouth means never being able to relax.

I really liked the line where the Judge pointed out that Drusilla and Spike are filled with the human emotions of jealousy and affection. It's something that has made them stand out as vampires and made their characters so enjoyable to watch. It's nice to have that side to them acknowledged in the show's mythology where vampires are this hybrid of demon and human.

The Bad: The only line I didn't care for was Cordelia asking for cake in the middle of a very serious conversation about the Judge. It was a comedic line too far.

The Unknown: I wasn't entirely happy with Oz accepting the existence of vampires. If ever there were a character who looked like they could take that news in their stride it would be him but that news should never be easy to take. I can see the convenience for the writers and as long as it doesn't happen repeatedly I won't mind.

Best Moment: Giles greets Xander and asks him if all is going well with the surprise birthday plans. Xander breezily replies "Absolutely. You ready to get down you funky party weasel?" As ridiculous and amusing as that statement was Buffy then appeared allowing Xander to add the equally unlikely statement of "Buffy! I feel a pre-birthday spanking coming on!"

The Bottom Line: In many ways this is a self contained episode and a strong one. However it is part one of two and very much needs part two for the full horror of what has happened to sink in.

 

Cordia's Second Look
Surprise
Season 2, Episode 13
Original airing: 1/19/1998

My Rating:68

The Good: Spike and Drusilla are back in their switched roles to wreck havoc on Buffy's 17th birthday. It's nice to see these villains back as they are always entertaining and actually threatening to Buffy. The big implication in Buffy's dreams is that Drusilla will kill Angel. This is a pretty significant threat to Buffy and lends credence to her fear of losing Angel.

Their relationship has been building steadily over the last few episodes. The step it takes in this episode feels pretty natural, although a little weird when you think of the ages of the participants. But it's played very well and tastefully. Buffy is afraid she'll lose Angel at any moment, to Drusilla or distance, and wants to act on her feelings, something anyone who's ever been in love can probably sympathize with.

And the fears appear justified. Spike and Drusilla have reassembled an ancient and powerful demon called the Judge, who can burn the humanity out of someone. Apparently, soon he'll be able to do this from a distance, which could wreck some serious havoc in the world of humans. It's also shown in this episode that the Judge can kill vampires who exhibit human feeling, which makes him a danger to Angel as well.

Jenny turns out to be more than she first appeared. It's revealed in this episode that she's part of the gypsy tribe which originally cursed Angel with the return of his soul. She's supposed to be keeping an eye on him and making sure he's miserable. Now, she's failed in her duty by allowing him to find happiness with Buffy. The flow of the show underlines her new secret when she intercepts Buffy at the library. She could be taking Buffy anywhere, but she ends up taking Buffy to her party. It's innocuous, but it does illustrate how the audience can no longer trust Jenny's motives.

Oz also becomes initiated into the Scooby Gang in this episode when he sees Buffy dust a vampire. His response to the existence of the supernatural is very in character - "actually, it explains a lot." As always, he and Willow are very cute as they ask each other out on their first date.

The Bad: There's nothing I would say is really bad in this episode. But it is the first part of a two-part arc, so the drama takes it's time to ramp up and then suddenly stops in a cliff-hanger. While this is normal, it didn't add to my score of the episode.

My only complaint with the episode is that there are a few too many Angel and Buffy kissing scenes. We know they're passionate and in love. We saw three or four of these in the last episode - Bad Eggs (S2E12). It's getting a bit boring.

Favorite Moment: As ever, I love seeing Oz and Willow interact. Their conversation where he plans to ask her out and then she asks him to Buffy's party is full of their classic off-kilter comments and flow.

The Bottom Line: A lot of good stuff happens in this episode. We have the reintroduction of Spike and Drusilla in altered roles, a potentially devastating new villain with the Judge and a very interesting twist in an existing character with Jenny. Angel and Buffy's relationship finally moves forward, leading to the cliff hanger.

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  • "The Bad: The only line I didn't care for was Cordelia asking for cake in the middle of a very serious conversation about the Judge. It was a comedic line too far."

    Haha xD

    Well, you see, your reaction is actually the whole point. You're supposed to think it's gone too far.

    And that's just Cordelia staying in character. She's self absorbed. You could be talking about the end of all times, and she'd still mutter out something that has nothing to do with the original subject. Her own thoughts take precedence. She's like an oblivious little kid in that sense.

    Viewer score: 70 / 100

    Posted by Eli, 20/02/2015 3:39pm (5 years ago)

  • I love your podcast. I listen to it when I walk my dog and people give me the strangest looks because all of a sudden I just laugh out loud. I enjoyed this episode because it really set the stage for one of my favorite episodes. I was sad to see Angel go but it is such a great plot twist I can't help but love it. I'm looking forward to listening to more podcasts, you guys have me rewatching the Buffy episodes for the 50th time (give or take a few).

    Viewer score: 70 / 100

    Posted by Coryann, 15/04/2013 9:27pm (7 years ago)

  • Wow, you suck dude. Your reviews mean nothing...

    Posted by greg, 30/07/2011 11:56am (8 years ago)

  • Hello Robin & Cordia,

    I'm immensely enjoying the podcast as always. I've re watched 'Surprise' and just wanted to add in a few things I took note of or otherwise just enjoyed about the episode.

    -I thought the opening metaphorical/symbolic dream was very creepy and well done. It's obvious from the start we're in for a real ride here and the time for monster-of-the-weeks are over. (Finally!)

    -I don't understand why Buffy would tell Angel they never found a body in regards to them never finding Drusilla. Wouldn't she be dust? *Just like towards the end of the series when a certain vampire is being drowned by someone for information* (Include in the podcast at your discretion?)

    -Hmm. That smurf looking Judge guy reminds me a lot of Luke from the pilot. Can't imagine why.

    -Oz's quick acceptance of the supernatural was nice to see if somewhat convenient. *Him saying 'Actually, it explains a lot.' is nice foreshadowing as well.* (Again, include in the podcast at your discretion?)

    -A vampiric power the Buffyverse has failed to mention is on display in this episode which is "The power to get dressed at lightning quick speeds". At the end of the episode, Angel is (I'm assuming) completely naked in bed with Buffy when he starts freaking out and it is apparent something dire is happening here. In the what, 3 seconds it takes him to stumble from his bed to the door he's managed to put on his pants, BUTTON UP HIS SHIRT, put on his shoes, and throw a coat on over that. Quite the feat I'd say.

    Oh and one last question Robin: Are all Brits such drama queens? ;)

    Posted by RevenantThings (Joe), 17/05/2011 6:06am (8 years ago)

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