Previously: Angel and Buffy sitting in a tree. K-I-S-S-I-N-G. First comes love, then comes sex, then comes that part where Angel runs in the rain and cries out in pain and we fade to black because Joss Whedon likes to torture his viewers. Also: A bad news baddie called, “The Judge.”
Lorraine: This episode is an exceptional 45-minutes of television. You should know that before reading any “snark” I’m able to dredge up once I’m done relating to all the teen angst. And eating the brownies that were necessary while writing this recap.
Sweeney: I can share some of my pumpkin cookies. I’ll find the ones not drenched in feelings.
K: I’ll be over here in the “Heartless Cow” corner again…
Lor: I bet y’all don’t have brownies or cookies.
We open up at Spike’s factory and see The Judge kneeling in a corner. Spike wheels over and starts boo-hooing about how Angel and Buffy are still alive and now know their location and master plan, which features unleashing The Judge. Spike wants to know what “big blue” is up to, and The Judge answers “I am preparing.” This displeases Wheelie Spike who wants to destroy the world already. In the foreground, Drusilla gets even more crazy faced than usual and falls to the ground in presumable pain. She crazies, “Angel,” and then smiles.
Two things here:
1.) I know vamps are evil and stuff, but I’m not sure I can get behind them wanting to destroy their entire food source.
Sweeney: It’s interesting that you say this, because I find Spike’s enthusiasm a bit contradictory to things that are about to happen. I’m not being annoying on purpose, just bringing this up to say, “File this moment under, ‘Things to remember in the near future.’”
2.) I hate Drusilla. This character does nothing for me. It’s not even that she’s a baddie either, because I like Spike and I’ve liked some other of our freaks of the week. I just do not like Dru.
Her crazy face fades and pans to Buffy still in Angel’s bed. She wakes to find him gone and whisper-calls his name. Outside, Angel whisper-calls Buffy, as he falls on the ground and realizes what’s happening. Nearby, some woman is watching Angel while smoking. I am immediately reminded of that not so subtle, “Smoking Kills” poster we saw in season 1. Poor Vaguely a Streetwalker. She’s not going to last long.
Vaguely a Streetwalker approaches Angel and asks if he’s okay. Angel stands quickly and responds that his pain is gone. He turns on Vaguely in full vamp-grill, noms on her neck, turns and blows out her cigarette smoke. If you don’t stop to think about the logistics at all, that’s pretty cool.
“I feel just fine,” he say, his transformation into baddie complete, because you see know, he smoked.
Sweeney: It’s true. Only demons smoke. Best PSA ever.
Lor: I’ll consider this my official confirmation that Buffy’s vagina did in fact break a man.
K: I love this scene so much. Because a) it’s seriously cool, and b) NO MORE BROODING YAY YAY YAAAAAY!!!
Lor: Whatever, Heartless. HAVING A SOUL IS HARD.
After the credits, Buffy is trying to quietly enter her house. Those giraffe-print pants are so loud though, it doesn’t work. JUST KIDDING. It doesn’t work because she elephant stomps up a couple of stairs.
Joyce asks if B had fun at Willow’s house. Buffy is acting wiggy this whole scene and it plays out as a post-first time, “CAN EVERYBODY TELL” sort of anxiety. Buffy is worried her mom can see it on her or smell it on her. She’s worried her mom knows she’s lying. Joyce picks up on it, saying Buffy looks a little… but she waves her worries away as any good negligent parent would.
K: I’m gonna give Joyce half a Sandy Cohen Eyebrow, because at least she picked up on something?
Sweeney: Maybe it’s just because I hate Joyce so much, but I’m going to say “motion denied” because Buffy is almost always majorly chill around Joyce, and she is so visibly unsettled in this scene, that it’s some definite negligent parenting to disregard that. Also, Joyce doesn’t get to have a special bar in which we give her SCEs just for acknowledging her daughter. Also, also, I hate her.
Lor: I’m with Sweeney mostly because I don’t think we should taint Sandy Cohen Eyebrows thusly.
In the Wiggins Library, Xander enter-announces that there were no vampires transporting boxes via the bus depot. Willow says that Buffy never checked in. Xander is immediately worried and wants to go look for B. Cordelia wants to know what they’d do, “besides be afraid and die.” “Nobody’s asking you to go, Cordelia. If the vampires need grooming tips, we’ll give you a call.” Poor Cordy looks really taken aback by Xander’s comment. There are no winners or losers here. Xander is right but Cordy is right.
As Willow and Xander make to leave, Buffy enters. Willow says some of them were off to rescue her and asks after Angel. He hasn’t checked in with anyone. Buffy explains that The Judge is now “no assembly required” and active. Buffy fibs and says that they spent the night “hiding in the sewer tunnels,” which I guess is one way to look at it? I’m sorry I just grossed myself out.
Anyhow, Giles sets off to do more research and sends the rest of the Scoobies to class.
Back at the factory, Drusilla is on a table looking up at the ceiling. I know I just declared my hate for her, but uh, I like this exchange.
Spike: Are we feeling better then?
Drusilla: I’m naming all the stars.
Spike: You can’t see the stars love. That’s the ceiling. Also, it’s day.
Drusilla: I can see them. But I’ve named them all the same name. It’s total confusion.
LOL. Oh, Dru.
K: I LOVE Spike’s tone of, “do I have to state the bleeding obvious AGAIN??” here.
Lor: Spike ignores her crazy and asks if she knows what happens to Angel. On cue, he enters with some nonsense lines. Was he waiting nearby until he heard his name? I wouldn’t put it past him.
Spike sicks The Judge on Angel, but nothing happens. Judgey-boy declares that there is no humanity in him. He is Angelus, you see. And he’s back. I’ll call him Angelus henceforth for differentiation.
After a cut to black, we’re still at the factory, rejoicing. “No more of this ‘I’ve got a soul’ crap?” Spike asks. Angelus lights a cigarette so we know he’s completely soulless. (S: The anti-smoking PSA continues!) When Spike taunts him for being on Buffy’s jock, Angelus gets a little growly, but ends up giving Spike a little smooch.
K: Angelus: already a thousand times more fun than Angel. Just sayin’…
Lor: Spike and Dru invite Angelus to their “destroy our food source” party, but he’s really more interested in destroying Buffy. “She made me feel like a human being,” he says. “That’s not the kind of thing you just forgive.”
Back in the library, Willow is on the phone with B, but she still has no word from Angel. Xander closes the book he’s reading and goes to the back rows to return it. Cordy is there and she rehashes some The Judge details: No weapon forged can stop him. Took an army to take him down.
Xander apologizes for snapping at her, saying he was crazed, and Cordy notes he was running off to die for his “beloved” Buffy. “You’d never die for me,” she whines. “No, I might die from you,” Xander retorts. I just don’t know how to feel about these two. I’m already feeling too many other things.
They kiss and when they break apart, we see a very confused Willow in the background. Xander spots her as she runs away and goes after her.
Out in the hallway, Willow says she knew he was keeping something from her. Xander thinks that’s over reacting as they were just kissing. “It doesn’t mean that much.” Nice, Xander. Nice.
Willow: No. It just means you’d rather be with someone you hate than be with me.
K: Poor Willow. She finds out that the guy she’s been in love with for a millionty years is a douchecanoe (file under: things the rest of us already knew), but can’t take the time to be upset because she has to deal with Giles and all the research, as well as the fact that her best friend has a magic vagina that can break people.
Lor: Buffy goes to Angel’s apartment, which is super tacky, by the way. Who the fuck decorated in there, some vampire with a soul?
Angelus walks into the shot behind Buffy so that we see him before she does. He was waiting in the wings again. She spots him and runs over to him, relieved. Tears streaming down her face, Buffy asks where he’s been, and gets evasive responses. I hate to ruin this scene right now, so let me just get it out of the way: DAMN BUFFY NEEDS A BRA. THIS IS A BRA-MERGENCY.
K: She should really know that he’s bad because he’s wearing the Leather Pants of I’m Up To No Good. Also because of what happens next. But partly because of the LPoIUTNG (Does that sound to anybody else like something the Knights who say Ni would say??).
Lor: Truth. But, in case we needed further proof:
Buffy: You didn’t say anything. You just left.
Angelus: Like I really wanted to stick around after that.
Angelus: You’ve got a lot to learn about men, kiddo. Although I guess you proved that last night.
Ouch. Buffy’s face is falling, much like I assume her heart is.
Buffy: Was it me? Was I not good?
Angelus: You were great. Really. I thought you were a pro.
Damn. I just want to hug Buffy forever. Also, Kirsti keeps saying she prefers soulless Angel, and at this moment I’m thinking it means we cannot be friends. HOW CAN YOU NOT FEEL FOR BUFFY AND WHAT SHE’S LOST?
K: Okay. To clarify? I feel for Buffy at this point, I really do. I prefer Angelus to Angel because NO MORE BROODING AND MOPING AND “WOE IS ME, LIFE AS A CREATURE OF THE NIGHT IS SO HARD” EMONESS.
Sweeney: BUT BUFFY! AND THE FEELINGS. ALL. THE. FEELINGS.
Lor: Right! And that’s my point. Angelus may be “fun” (which, yeah, I’m not impressed) but LOOK WHAT HE DOES TO BUFFY.
Angelus says a few more douchey things and as he makes to leave, Buffy cries out to him. “I love you,” she whisper-says. Angel points and in a very Hollywood-esque manner says, “love you too.”
In the next scene Bad Accent Man is back and he still looks decidedly Amish. Jenny is telling BAM that she’s been faithful and blah, blah, blah, longest vengeance plot EVER. BAM says it’s all irrelevant now. The curse was never meant to make Angelus human, but rather to make him suffer under the weight of a soul. One moment of true happiness would rob him of that soul. Let’s hope for B’s sake that it was a little longer than just one moment of happiness.
K: Nope. They make a point of mentioning over and over again for the rest of the series (AND throughout Angel the series) that ONE moment of true happiness is all it takes. Sucks to be Buffy.
Lor: Jenny thinks this is all cray and leaves.
Sweeney: Just because I feel obligated to throw it out there with some regularity: Fuck Ms. Calendar. Carry on.
Lor: At school, Willow returns. Xander is happy she’s back but she wants to clarify: “I don’t understand it. I don’t want to understand it. You have gross emotional problems and things are not okay between us. But. What’s happening right now is more important than that.” (K: Snaps for Willow and her awesomeness! S: +1)
They re-re-hash The Judge details: no weapon forged. It took an army. Those words click for Xander and he, surprised as any of us, has a thought and a plan. Suddenly, all the lights cut out.
Angelus calls out to them, and we can tell he’s in vamp-grill. Angelus sends Xander to fetch the others and calls Willow to come closer. She does so slowly, giving Xander time to suspect and turn around. Jenny also enters, wielding a cross. She tries to warn Will, but Angelus grabs her. Jenny explains that he isn’t Angel anymore but he says, “wrong. I am Angel. At last.” He’s got a message for Buffy who thankfully is on hand to receive it herself.
Angelus threaten B and her friends and says, “your boyfriend is dead.” Meanwhile, Xander has grabbed the cross from Jenny and shoves it in Angel’s face, causing him to release Willow (K: ZOMG, XANDER WAS USEFUL!). Angel grabs Buffy and tells her things are going to get interesting. He kisses her and throws her down. It was a brilliant move to add that kiss there. Creepy.
Sweeney: Not that I’m ever going to join Kirsti in the Angelus>Angel camp, but he is a really good villain. Lots of nice creepy touches to be added by being Buffy’s…uh, ex-boyfriend?
Lor: In the library, Giles is “leaning toward blind panic” now that Angel has switched teams. Buffy is sitting quietly, playing with her Claddagh ring. The Piano of Many Emotions starts up as B says she should’ve known Angel was gone earlier. Giles wants to know how it happened and this grabs Buffy’s attention. Giles unknowingly plows forward, asserting that something must’ve set it off, something must’ve killed his soul, some vagina must’ve robbed him of his humanity. I just implied most of that, but you know.
Seriously, though, this is NOT Giles’ best moment as he keep bulldozing Buffy’s fagile emotions. He’s all, “no, seriously, something must’ve happened last night,” and finally B runs out. Willow puts it together and quietly tells Giles to shut up, as she watches her best friend go.
K: +1 for Willow, -1,000,000 for Giles because he clearly sucks at interpreting “Don’t go there” signals…
Lor: Xander says he has a plan, and he needs Cordelia for it. They also need a big car, so Willow says she’ll get Oz, who has a van. They are all going to meet at Willow’s in half an hour and Cordelia is instructed to wear something “trashy… er.” So, she’s going to Buffy’s house to borrow clothes then?
At the factory, Angelus is reveling in his Buffy-torture. Wheelie Spike is focused on the part where Buffy is still alive. Dru, coddling one of her creepy dolls pipes up. “You don’t want to kill her, do you?” She pokes the dolls eyes violently. “You want to hurt her. Just like you hurt me.” Make sure Drusilla is never around my eyes, you guys? Okay?
K: SRSLY. I have eyeball phobia.
Lor: The rest of the scene gets clunky as Angelus proclaims that force isn’t going to kill Buffy. “To kill this girl, you have to love her,” he anvils. WhoTF wrote that line?
Buffy walks into her room and immediately spots the silver cross Angel gave her back in Season 1. Mmmhmm, girl. I’ve been there post break-up, where you just manage to focus on all the things that remind you of that person. From the necklace, to the ring she removes and weeps over, until she falls on her bed, lost to all the feels.
Flash bang! into black sheets, skin, heavy breathing, soft moaning, and that one moment of happiness we were talking about earlier. “I love you,” we hear Angel whisper. Buffy opens her eyes but the dream sequence continues. We are at a cemetery. Dream!Angel walks up to Dream!Buffy and says, “You have to know what to see.” Buffy looks behind her and a figure in black lifts her veil to reveal Ms. Calendar. Buffy wakes. For real this time.
We watch as a very determined, very haggard, very bra-less Buffy stomps through the school and enters a classroom, where Ms. Calendar is talking to Giles. Buffy enters and grabs Jenny by the throat, pushing her down onto the desk.
Sweeney: FAVORITE. I LOVE IT. I hate that I can’t find a gif of this. INTERNET, PLEASE FIND ME A GIF OF THIS.
Lor: I looked too! I got nothing.
Giles quickly dismisses the class as Buffy lets Jenny up. “Did you do it? Did you change him?” Giles thinks this is preposterous, but Jenny fesses up: She was sent to watch them. She was meant to keep Angel and Buffy apart but didn’t know what would happen if she didn’t. He had to pay for what he did to her people. Buffy: “And me? What was I supposed to be paying for?”
Buffy asks if it’s certain that she caused the soul loss. Jenny thinks yes. We get the whole “one moment of happiness” spiel again. Giles innocently asks how Buffy knows she was the cause, and one “mmhmm. MMMHMM” look from Buffy shuts him up. He gets it. Buffy wants Angel cursed with a soul again but, contrivantly, those magicks are lost. I guess gypsies don’t love their books like Watchers do. Jenny says she can’t help, and B demands to be transferred to someone who can help her. Sorry, that was a flashback from my call center days.
We cut to BAM smoking a pipe as someone enters behind him. He assumes it’s Jenny with Buffy, but it’s Angelus.
K: I kind of love this, because BAM is creepy and annoying. I mean, he doesn’t deserve Angelus. But if you sit around in a room with your back to the door being all “I knew you were coming” whenever someone comes in, you’re kind of asking for trouble, you know??
Sweeney: I’m ambivalent about his death. It’s unfortunate for the finding of the LOSTMAGICKS but also, his nonsensical accent and wardrobe need to go.
We cut to some army base, probably also in Sunnydale because it has an airport and port SO WHY NOT? Xander directs Willow and Oz to wait until they see a window open and then help lower the package.
Xander gets out with Cordy and they get into the Army base through a fence. I’d like to just point out that Cordy’s version of a trashy outfit includes some sort of metallic jacket with matching headband.
Xander soon gets caught but bullshits his way out of it, saying he’s a soldier that wants to show his date the big guns to get her hot and bothered. It works. He looks for something in armory and clarifies that he still remember lots of soldier details from Halloween. Cordy is mildly impressed. “Does looking at guns make you want to have sex,” Cordy asks. Xander amazingly replies, “I’m 17. Looking at linoleum makes me want to have sex.”
K: Does this mean that he gets an #awkwardXanderboner whenever he walks in the door at school? Because schools LOVE their lino floors.
Oz: Sometimes when I’m sitting in class… You know, I’m not thinking about class, ’cause that would never happen. I think about kissing you. And it’s like everything stops. It’s like, it’s like freeze frame. Willow kissage.
Willow smiles at him but he clarifies that he isn’t going to kiss her.
Oz: Well, to the casual observer, it would appear that you’re trying to make your friend Xander jealous or even the score or something. And that’s on the empty side. See, in my fantasy when I’m kissing you, you’re kissing me. It’s okay. I can wait.
Just then they get the signal and Oz gets out of the van. Willow lingers, smiling thoughtfully and HOMYGOD. I LOVE THEM BOTH.
K: I’m JD.
Lor: Jenny and Buffy now do really enter BAM’s room to find him murdered. On the wall above him, written in blood we see, “Was it good for you?” Giles says Angelus is purposefully trying to make it harder for her. Buffy says he’s actually making it easier to do what she has to: kill him.
Factory-o-baddies, The Judge announces that he is ready. We see Angelus and Dru take off with him, though Wheelie Spike has to sit this one out.
Oz and Xander are bringing whatever weapon they stole from the armory into the library. Ms. Calendar asks if there is anything she can do. Without turning towards her, Buffy says, “get out.” Jenny just wants to help. Giles turns his back on her and tells her to leave. (K: YAY!!) She does as Xander offers to teach Buffy how to use the weapon.
The Scoobies get to the Factory-o-baddies to find it “empty” even though Spike is shadow lurking. They try to guess where the baddies could be and a mini-brainstorm later produce: mall.
Cut to the mall. The Judge, Dru and Angelus enter with some other vamps who are directed to block the exits. The Judge wastes no time zapping people into dust. In a mirror shot, Buffy exits an elevator with her crew in tow: Giles and Xander carrying the weapon and Willow, Cordy and Oz following them.
K: I’m gonna go ahead and give you a picture of this, because it ends up in the opening credits right up until season 7 if I’m not mistaken.
Lor: The Judge is zapping a whole matrix of people. An arrow flies into his chest and it stops the zapping.
“Who dares?” he asks, and we pan to Buffy, on top of a concession stand, wielding a crossbow in a super bad ass manner. “I think that got his attention,” Buffy sasses. The Judges says AGAIN that no weapon forged can stop him.
And so, boom goes The Judge. Now, I thought after all this the loophole would be all, “a-ha! This weapon is not metal or heated, thus not forged.” I guess the point is that times have changed? Whatever. Boom goes The Judge.
K: Buffy with a rocket launcher: your argument is invalid.
Lor: The Scoobies are off to collect the little pieces of The Judge while Buffy goes after Angelus. The sprinkler system is activated so that their big showdown features lots of slipping and sliding. Angelus punches Buffy IN THE FACE and then says that if he knew how easy she’d give it up, he wouldn’t have bothered pretending to love her. Buffy ain’t buying, though. This isn’t her Angel.
Angelus has the upper hand for most of the fight, but when Angel taunts, “Come on Buffy. You know you want it,” our girl doubles her efforts and just fucking OWNS him. It all culminates with Buffy whipping out a wooden stake from… (?) somewhere but not being able to finish the job. “You can’t do it. You can’t kill me,” Angel says. Buffy answers this with the most intensive kick to the balls, ever.
“Give me time,” she says as she walks away.
Sweeney: Girls around the world with ex-boyfriend drama just cheered.
K: LOVE IT. Based on the fact that she has Buffy Brawn, it’s not all that surprising that he more or less sits on the sidelines for the next couple of episodes. Dude needs time to let his voice de-falsetto.
Lor: That night, Giles drives Buffy home.She thinks he must be disappointed but he assures her he isn’t.
Do you want me to wag my finger at you and tell you that you acted rashly? You did and I can. I know that you loved him. And he… has proven more than once that he loved you. You couldn’t have known what would happen. The coming months are going to be hard, I suspect on all of us. But if it’s guilt you are looking for Buffy, I’m not your man. The only thing you’ll get from me is my support and my respect.
A+ for Giles.
K: A++ in my book. And yes, I’m calling that a valid thing because I once got an A++ from my English teacher in year 11. So there. #nerd
Sweeney: I just want to hug him. This whole episode with all of its FEELS makes my inability to hug fictional characters a serious problem.
Lor: Inside B is watching an old black and white movie. The couple on screen dances as the female sings “Goodnight My Love.” “Goodnight my love. My moment with you now is ending. It was so heavenly…”Joyce comes out with cupcakes, in case we forgot: This was all Buffy’s 17th birthday.
We end the episode with Buffy leaning on her mother, her birthday candle burning itself out.