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The Big Damn Buffy Rewatch S02E17, “Passion”

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In every generation there is a chosen one. She alone really doesn’t want to do this episode, in a very real, very visceral way. She will also recap every episode of Buffy The Vampire Slayer with an eye to the following themes:

  1. Sex is the real villain of the Buffy The Vampire Slayer universe.
  2. Giles is totally in love with Buffy.
  3. Joyce is a fucking terrible parent.
  4. Willow’s magic is utterly useless (this one won’t be an issue until season 2, when she gets a chance to become a witch)
  5. Xander is a textbook Nice Guy.
  6. The show isn’t as feminist as people claim.
  7. All the monsters look like wieners.
  8. If ambivalence to possible danger were an Olympic sport, Team Sunnydale would take the gold.
  9. Angel is a dick.
  10. Harmony is the strongest female character on the show.
  11. Team sports are portrayed in an extremely negative light.
  12. Some of this shit is racist as fuck.
  13. Science and technology are not to be trusted.
  14. Mental illness is stigmatized.
  15. Only Willow can use a computer.
  16. Buffy’s strength is flexible at the plot’s convenience.
  17. Cheap laughs and desperate grabs at plot plausibility are made through Xenophobia.
  18. Oz is the Anti-Xander
  19. Spike is capable of love despite his lack of soul
  20. Don’t freaking tell me the vampires don’t need to breathe because they’re constantly out of frickin’ breath.
  21. The foreshadowing on this show is freaking amazing.
  22. Smoking is evil.
  23. Despite praise for its positive portrayal of non-straight sexualities, some of this shit is homophobic as fuck.
  24. How do these kids know all these outdated references, anyway?

Have I missed any that were added in past recaps? Let me know in the comments.  Even though I might forget that you mentioned it.

WARNING: Some people have mentioned they’re watching along with me, and that’s awesome, but I’ve seen the entire series already and I’ll probably mention things that happen in later seasons. So… you know, take that under consideration, if you’re a person who can’t enjoy something if you know future details about it. 

Well, this is the one, people. The one that made every fan lose their ability to trust anyone, ever again. Years before Age of Ultron, Joss Whedon shattered our faith in anything with his name attached to it, because of this. Fucking. Episode.

The episode opens with Angelus deeply underestimating how not-into Xander Buffy really is:

Angel: “Passion. It lies in all of us. Sleeping, waiting, and though unwanted, unbidden, it will stir, open its jaws, and howl.”

Because of this:

buffy xander dancing

Ah, yes. Listless, arhythmic swaying, far enough apart to leave room for Jesus and his own dance partner. Passion incarnate.

Buffy and the gang leave The Bronze and walk right past Angelus, who’s eating a person. Remember when Buffy could like, sense if vampires were around? #16

At home, Buffy looks around to make sure nothing is up, then goes to bed. In the night, Angel comes into her room all Edward Cullen-like to watch her sleep, and does more of a voice over about obeying passion. After the opening titles, she wakes to find that he also was being all Jack Dawson-like:

draw me like one of your dead girls
I want you to draw me like one of your dead girls.

At school, Buffy tells the gang that Angel was in her room the night before. Cordelia wonders why he was able to get in, since vampires have to be invited, and Giles explains that once a vampire is invited in, they’re able to enter whenever they want.

Xander: “You know, I think there may be a valuable lesson for you gals here about inviting strange men into your bedrooms.”

Shut up, Xander. Buffy invited you into her bedroom once, and you used the occasion to spy on her changing by looking in the mirror on her jewelry box, so why don’t you cram a Dracula in it. #5

Cordelia is freaked because she let Angel get in her car once, so when Buffy insists there has to be a spell to reverse the invites, Cordelia is all about having her car magicked, too. Giles says he’ll look for a spell.

Okay, you know how it’s only ever the Scoobies in the library? And how unrealistic that actually is? I love the way the show handles this. This is Xander’s reaction when two students walk into the library (one of whom is Jonathan, who will later become a series regular).

Xander: “Hello? Excuse me, but have you ever heard of knocking?”

Jonathan: “We’re supposed to get some books. On Stalin.”

Xander: “Does this look like a Barnes and Noble?”

Giles: “This is a school library, Xander.”

Xander: “Since when?”

If you’re going to use a device like this, like the school library being headquarters for your characters’ strategic anti-evil plans, and it’s going to be so unlikely that such a setting would work in the way you’re using it, if you self-reference that with humor, it really covers a multitude of sins. The audience knows that it’s weird that not many kids go into the library; the writers are savvy enough to let the audience know that they’re in on the joke.

The Scoobies abandon the students to fend for themselves in the library, and in the hall Cordelia wonders why Angel would just be leaving stuff in her room when he could have easily killed her in a bunch of ways she helpfully lists off. Giles believes that Angel is trying to get a rise out of Buffy so that she makes bad choices.

Remember that advice later on in the episode. #21

Buffy’s main concern is that when Angelus began to torment Drusilla, he killed her family. She says that since she and her mom aren’t always home at the same time–no shit–there’s no way Buffy can protect her mother from Angel. Giles keeps advising Buffy to stay calm.

Buffy: “That’s easy for you to say. You don’t have Angel lurking in your bedroom at night.”

Remember that line for later on in the episode. #21

Giles keeps telling Buffy that no matter what Angel does, she can’t let him get to her. We’ll see how well Giles can follow his own advice in a little bit here. This whole situation eerily resembles how stalking laws were structured at the time–and how they’re still structured in some places, including the internet. The “pretend you don’t notice and hopefully it won’t escalate” approach is basically bullshit, and Buffy sees right through it.

In computer class, Ms. Calendar asks Willow if she could cover the class in the morning because she might be running late. In true Willow fashion, she immediately launches into a litany of fears as to what could go wrong in this scenario, but Ms. Calendar reassures her that everything will be fine. At which point Willow becomes drunk with power and wants to know if she can give people detention or make them run laps.

Buffy and Giles stop by the door, looking for Willow, and Willow sheepishly apologizes to Buffy, reminding her that she has to talk to Jenny because Jenny is a teacher. After they leave, Jenny asks Giles how things have been, and he tells her about the new Angel problem. Jenny says she’s been doing research since Angel went bad, and she has a book that could help them with un-inviting people. She also asks how Buffy is doing, and Giles isn’t having it.

Jenny: “I know you feel betrayed–”

Giles: “Yes, well that’s one of the unpleasant side effects of betrayal.”

Jenny reminds Giles that she was raised to be loyal to her people. But she also says that Angel hurt her people the most. I’m curious about this. I think all we ever find out is that one girl was killed a long time ago, and Angel was cursed. But then I think of Drusilla, and how Angel tortured her until she was psychologically destroyed, then turned her into a vampire doll for him to play with. I’m like, not entirely sure how they’re carrying this grudge for so long that they believe they were the most victimized by Angel’s actions, but whatever.

Jenny tells Giles that when she came to Sunnydale, the intention wasn’t to harm anyone. She had no idea that things were going to get so bad, and, she says, dropping a massive bombshell, she had no idea she was going to fall in love with Giles. The music is all tender and they’re both emotional, and Jenny says she just wants to make things up to him. And you get a feeling that this is the moment, they’re going to get back together and everything will be wonderful, but… he tells her that he’s not the one she needs to make it up to, thanks her for the book, and leaves.

He chooses his Slayer over the woman he was romantically involved with, and it won’t be the first time. So I’m filing this as future evidence of #2.

Over dinner at home, Buffy tells Joyce that Angel, her “tutor,” was dating her, but now they’re broken up.

Joyce: “Don’t tell me. He’s changed, he’s not the same guy you fell for?”

Buffy tells her mom that since they broke up, Angel has been following her around. Joyce is alarmed, and asks if he’s done anything. You know, anything like send a dozen roses with a one-word threat attached. Joyce doesn’t even put this conversation and that event together (#3). Buffy just tells her that if Angel comes over, she’ll talk to him, but not to let him in.

While on the phone with Buffy, Willow says that Giles is right, Angel is probably just trying to throw her off her game. She sprinkles some food in her fishtank, then sees an envelope on her bed.

dead fish

Is that a beta? That looks like a beta, or a male fantailed guppie. How was she keeping either of those fish in a tank with other fish? She’s not even a witch yet. Sorry, I used to breed guppies and keep betas. It was a whole stupid thing. I don’t advise it as a hobby because it’s mostly just cleaning up fish parts and watching your hard work get eaten.

The scene cuts to Willow clutching a stake in Buffy’s room, where they’re surrounded by garlic. Willow says she’s glad that her parents wouldn’t let her have a puppy.

Buffy: “It’s so weird. Everytime something like this happens, my first instinct is still to run to Angel. I can’t believe it’s the same person. He’s completely different from the guy that I knew.”

Willow: “Well, sort of, except–”

Buffy: “except what?”

Willow: “You’re still the only thing he thinks about.”

Youch, Willow! Keep that one to yourself.

At the factory, Drusilla brings Spike a puppy she’s named Sunshine. So he can eat it, obviously.

Okay, what the fuck does this show have against dogs? In the last episode, Giles says something about Angel nailing a puppy to something. Then Willow was all, glad I don’t have a puppy because Angel would have apparently killed it and jammed it into an envelope. Now Dru is trying to feed a puppy to Spike? So…are actual cats producing this show?

buffy business cat

 

Angel arrives at the factory to taunt Spike about not being able to walk and fucking his girlfriend and stuff like that. You know. Friend stuff. Drusilla has a vision that “an old enemy” is trying to destroy their little vampire family.

Cut to the local magic shop, the existence of which gives no one in Sunnydale pause, even when paired with everything they keep conveniently forgetting about vampires and monsters running around in their town.

I’m particularly interested in this, the first appearance of a magic shop in Sunnydale, because in season five, when Giles buys The Magic Box, I for some reason assumed that it was the exact same magic shop that everyone keeps getting murdered at, but this place has a below-ground level door, which The Magic Box does not have, and which I don’t believe the magic shop has in season three. Are there other magic shops in Sunnydale? All of them peddling legitimate magical goods? What happened to there not being very much town?

Jenny Calendar comes in, and the shop keeper tries his very best to impersonate the racist caricature bazar vendor from the beginning of Disney’s Aladdin (#12), but he drops the act when she asks for an Orb of Thesulah. In other words, he pretends to be a mystic foreigner from a far off land, but it turns out that he’s just a greedy trickster. Did I mention #12? As well as #17? Because as he knows all about “Janna” and her dead uncle, as well as the magic rituals of her “people,” I assume he’s meant to be Romani.

Luckily for Jenny, this dude has an Orb of Thesulah in stock. He sells them to New Age customers as paperweights, because, let’s just ram the point home here, he is greedy and will happily rip people off and that’s supposed to be quirky and amusing for the audience. He tells Jenny that the instructions needed to operate the orb can’t be translated, and she tells him about a computer program she’s created that will decipher the text. He asks her what she’s going to do with it, and she tells him she’s going to give a friend a gift. His soul.

jenny calendar orb

At school, Willow and Buffy tell Xander they they had a sleep over, and he’s all like, why didn’t you take pictures, and I stab myself in the back of the hand with a nail file just to feel something other than my rage. Willow is disappointed to see Jenny crossing the lawn toward the school, because that means her whole, “I’m gonna be the teacher” plan is ruined. Buffy catches up with Jenny to tell her she’s glad Jenny feels bad about the whole Angel thing. Then Buffy gets the courage to tell Jenny that Giles misses her, and that he shouldn’t be lonely.

Inside the school, Giles tells Buffy and Cordelia–who has traded cars with her grandmother in an attempt to not be the one eaten by Angel–that there’s a way to revoke a vampire’s invitation. Cut to Willow’s house, where she’s trying to figure out how to explain the sudden presence of crucifixes in her room to her Jewish family. Cordelia is there, being unhelpful, and Buffy suggests that since the car is already done, Cordy can leave. As she’s about to go, she spots an envelope on Willow’s bed. Inside is another one of Angel’s drawings, this time of Joyce.

Can we take a moment to wonder about something? Namely, how Angel is sneaking all this stationary into people’s houses? The first one, I understood. He was already in Buffy’s room, drawing the picture of her. The fish one? A little harder for me to believe. Willow was in her pajamas, after all, so she’d been home for some time. Yeah, she’s on the phone and distracted, but for long enough that Angel could sneak in, scoop up all her fish, hang them on hooks, and leave the envelope on the bed while her back was turned? Probably not, so he would have had to have murdered the fish when she wasn’t home. So, she walks in and doesn’t notice this envelope on her bed? And then the same thing happens twice? The “conveniently placed envelope” thing wasn’t executed real well here.

Anyway, Joyce pulls into the driveway at the Summers residence, where Angel is waiting for her.

Angel: “Ms. Summers, I need to talk to you”

Joyce: “You’re Angel.”

Angel: “Did Buffy tell you about us?”

Joyce: “She told me she wants you to leave her alone.”

Angel: “I can’t. I can’t do that.”

Joyce: “You’re scaring her.”

Angel: “You have to help me. Joyce, I need to be with her. You can convince her, you can convince her.”

Joyce: “I’m telling you to leave her alone.”

Good job, Joyce! Flying in the face of all those bad parenting allegations!

Angel keeps acting like creepy stalker boyfriend, pursuing a frazzled Joyce to the porch, where she fumbles for her keys and drops her bag of groceries. When Joyce threatens to call the police, Angel says:

Angel: “I haven’t been able to sleep since the night we made love.”

Joyce manages to unlock the door and get inside, and Angel goes to follow her, but he’s prevented from entering by an unseen force. Buffy comes down the stairs, with Willow chanting a magic spell behind her. Buffy slams the door in Angel’s face, telling him they changed the locks.

Back at the school, Jenny is working late when Giles comes in and says that she’s working late. And it’s like, duh, so are you, that’s why you’re there at the same time. She tells him she’s working on a special project, but she doesn’t want to tell him what it is because she’s not sure about it yet. She asks if she can seem him later, and he tells her to stop by his house.

At the magic shop, the owner is just closing things up. After dark. In Sunnydale. Even though he knows monsters and shit are real. He’s clearly infected with #8 as well. It must be in the drinking water. He doesn’t even bother to lock the door. Drusilla walks in with her puppy, who apparently told Dru that Jenny Calendar had been to see him. She wants to know what they talked about.

Back at the school, Jenny’s translation software decodes the instructions for the Orb of Thesulah. She saves this important information on a diskette, and I feel like a thousand years old, because I remember using those, and because I remember when computers went from the old eight inch floppies to those super sturdy and portable diskettes. I saved my very first manuscript on one of those. Now, it’s the save icon for pretty much every piece of software in existence, and my children’s generation will have no idea why.

As the document starts printing on a dot matrix printer, Jenny sees Angel sitting at the back of the class. He got into the school because of the Latin motto over the door, which invites people in if they want to learn. I’m not sure why that’s a question at this point, since vampires have crashed the school before without an invite. It seems like since it’s a “public” school, there shouldn’t have been a need for an invite, anyway. Angel tells her that he knows she went to the magic store and what she bought. He throws it at the chalkboard beside her head, and it busts into a billion pieces. He also attacks her computer and burns up the ritual of restoration in the flames from the monitor, so his soul can’t be restored.

Jenny tries to run, like an idiot, away from the classroom door and right past Angel. But it’s all good, because he throws her into the door, and she’s able to escape. She runs through the school, finding all the exits locked.

Hey, you know where she should run? To the fucking library, where there’s bound to be a weapon laying around. But whatever.

She’s actually outside at one point and runs back into the building for some reason, where she’s caught by Angel, who snaps her neck. Bye, Jenny.

No, seriously, bye, Jenny. The first time I saw this, I thought, “Oh, it’s going to be fine, she’s going to turn into a vampire and there’s going to be all this angst and shit because Giles will love a vampire, but Ms. Calendar is DEFINITELY FINE.”

She isn’t fine, y’all. She is not fine at all.

Giles goes to Buffy’s house, where Willow answers the door. She gives Giles the book they used in the ritual, and he asks Willow how the ritual went. She tells him that everything went fine until Angel told Joyce that he and Buffy had slept together. Then Willow panics:

Willow: “You do know, right?”

Giles: “Oh, yes. Sorry.”

Willow: “Oh, good, ’cause I just realized, that being a librarian and all, you maybe didn’t know.”

Giles: “No, thank you. I got it.”

This is one of my favorite Giles and Willow scenes, because for as awkward as Willow is, she can steer Giles around like a boss a minute after telling him she assumed he doesn’t know about sex because he’s a librarian:

Willow: “Okay, well, I’ll tell Buffy you stopped by.”

Giles: “Would you, um– Perhaps I should intervene on Buffy’s behalf with her mother. Maybe say something?”

Willow: “Sure! Like what would you say?”

Giles: “W–uh. You will tell Buffy I dropped by?”

Willow: “You bet.”

One of the best parts of early series Willow is that she’s innocent and naive, but not stupid.

Upstairs in her room, Buffy tells Joyce that the ritual they were doing was because Angel is superstitious. Joyce asks Buffy if Angel was her first, then says she doesn’t want to know. Buffy tells her that Angel is the only person she’s slept with, and Joyce scolds her about Angel’s age. Which, you know. You don’t know the half of it, Joyce. She goes on to say that Angel is obviously not stable, like Buffy should have known this. Like a teenager should have realized that a grown man could be manipulating her.

Joyce: “I really wish… I just thought you would show more judgment.”

correct parenting face
That is absolutely the face every viewer should be making at Joyce right now.

Joyce berates Buffy for making the mistake of having teenage sex, and accuses Buffy of shutting her out. Except, you know, Joyce, for your daughter to be able to share anything with you at all, you have to fucking be around. Like, enough to know that your daughter has an inappropriately close friendship with a grown man who works at her school. Enough to know that she is out literally all night every night. Enough for her to trust that you’re not going to flip out and blame her when her boyfriend turns out to be an abusive psychopath. And while Joyce tells Buffy she loves her, that doesn’t erase any of that hurtful shit. Her daughter is in an abusive relationship and she blames her for it, despite signs being there since the last episode. This is, quite possibly, Joyce’s biggest #3.

I need to take a moment.

Because this is where we are:

oh no

Can I just say that it is BEYOND CRUEL that they chose to use that image, of Giles smiling and thinking he’s about to reconcile romantically with Ms. Calendar, in the opening titles? What kind of fucking monster does that?

Giles goes into his house and finds opera music playing, champagne chilling in a bucket, and a note that says, “Upstairs.” There are candles everywhere. He goes upstairs. And it takes him a second:

oh no no

 

But there’s Ms. Calendar’s dead body in his bed.

oh no no no

And after a shot of the champagne bottle shattering on the floor and a close-up of Jenny’s wide open, dead eyes, the scene cuts to Giles in shock as the coroner removes her body from his apartment and the police ask to take him in for questioning.

WHY WHY WHY WHY

Remember, this is a show aimed primarily at teen viewers. It is, for lack of a better comparison, a YA novel on television. And it does. not. underestimate. its. audience. The writers and producers of the show knew that teenagers are not the selfish creatures who could only empathize with the loss of a boyfriend or the death of pets, but with adult characters in unimaginable pain. The writers could have ended Ms. Calendar with that scene in the school, and the characters grieving her loss. Instead, it delivered on the promise it made, that Angelus is not just a vampire, but the most sadistic vampire who ever lived, and that he will come for Buffy and put her loved ones through hell before he destroys her.

This is the ultimate show vs. tell; for all they were saying, over and over, that Angel is now truly evil, without hope of redemption, once the viewer sees this scene, they know that’s true. Everything else was playtime. It’s not just the characters who’ve been hurt by Angelus. It’s everyone who loves the show and the characters. He truly comes after the people who love Buffy, including the audience.

If you’re a writer, and you manage to evoke even fifty percent of the horror of this scene, you’re writing a phenomenal story.

The police are going to bring Giles in for questioning, but he asks to make a phone call first. At Buffy’s house, the phone rings. Outside, Angel enjoys more voice over monologue about passion while he watches as Buffy and Willow learn that Ms. Calendar is dead:

grief

We see the scene unfold through the window, as well. There isn’t much audible dialogue, either, and the separation makes it even more painful for the viewer. We’re not beside Buffy and Willow as they go through this. We just have to watch as Buffy slides down the wall and Willow says, “No, no, no,” over and over. The style of the scene renders us totally helpless. We can’t be there, going through this with our friends.

But while all of this is amazing, it does set up a problem in season three, when Angel returns and we’re supposed to feel sympathetic toward him. Because honestly? I’ve never, ever forgiven him for this. I literally carry a grudge toward a fictional character who hurt me, and I know I’m not the only fan who feels this way, even after his soul is restored. That’s a pitfall of great writing. It sticks, and it’s hard to scrape it off the audience.

Xander and Cordelia show up and tell Buffy and Willow that Giles has already left the police station. Buffy is worried about what Giles might do, and she’s right to worry. He’s stocking up a bag full of weapons, beside a drawing Angel has left of Ms. Calendar’s dead face.

The Scoobies arrive at Giles’s place, where they realize what Angel has done. Xander, in a rare moment of sensitivity, actually says, “Poor Giles,” before explaining that the weapons in the house are the “good” weapons, unlike the ones kept in the library. This is a nice touch, because it shows that Xander, despite all of his joking, not only cares about Giles, but notices details about him in the same way he notices details about all of his friends.

And for once, I’m on Xander’s side:

Cordelia: “So Giles is going to try to kill Angel then?”

Xander: “Well, it’s about time somebody did.”

Willow: “Xander!”

Xander: “I’m sorry, but let’s not forget I hated Angel long before you guys jumped on the bandwagon. So I think I deserve a little something for not saying ‘I told you so’ long before now. And if Giles wants to go after the, uh, fiend that murdered his girlfriend, I say ‘faster, pussycat, kill, kill.'”

Okay, well. I sort of agree with him. Xander has had an air of “I told you so” wafting from him like body spray since Angel turned evil. But he’s right about this being the point where they need to stop worrying about how to protect themselves from Angel, and start worrying about how to kill him.

But I continue to marvel at how these 1990’s teens keep making references from the adult writers’ knowledge of pop culture. I’m not saying teenagers aren’t aware of things that happen before they were born, but Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! is a Russ Meyer movie from the 1960’s. Meyer is kind of a cult fave. I know adults who’ve never heard of that movie, and I only know about it because I was obsessed with movies and thought I was going to be the next Quentin Tarantino someday. So to me, it sticks out as something a Hollywood writer would be familiar with, rather than an average teen. I’m making a new list item, #24, How do these kids know all these outdated references, anyway?

At the factory, Spike points out–rightly so–that Angelus’s usual tactics aren’t going to work when they’re up against a Slayer, and they’re going to just end up pissing her off. Of course, since #19, I like to believe that Spike is just secretly horrified at how evil Angel’s act was. As Angel insists he’s got everything under control,  there’s a crash, and flames engulf the table beside them. They run, and Angel gets hit by a crossbow bolt that narrowly misses his heart. As he pulls it out, Giles walks out of the shadows in Scary!Giles mode (which we will see again, but rarely, which only makes him more terrifying) with a baseball bat on fire. He starts whaling on Angel with it, while Angel tries to crack wise. Drusilla wants to help, but Spike stops her, because let’s face it, Spike wants to see Angel get murdered.

Giles not only holds his own, but he’s actually getting the best of Angel, until he makes an error and Angel grabs him by the throat.

Angel: “All right. You’ve had your fun. But you know what it’s time for now?”

Buffy: “My fun!”

That’s right. Buffy races in and fights Angel while Giles, knocked unconscious yet again, is perilously close to some fire. And Buffy lets the fuck loose on Angel, until he points that out, and Buffy is forced to let him go in order to save her Watcher.

Outside, Giles has conveniently regained consciousness. He shoves Buffy and tells her she shouldn’t have come after him because it wasn’t her fight. So she punches him. Which should knock him out again, because his head is fragile like an egg from a calcium deficient chicken, but #16. The shock of seeing these two engage in physical confrontation is amazing, because, as the title suggests, it’s passion that’s ruling them in the moment. Giles only cares about revenge, and Buffy only cares about saving Giles, and they’re both so driven by those passions that they’re willing to harm each other. One might assume that the title of the episode ironically refers to the relationship between Giles and Ms. Calendar, but it really fits this scene, too. Passion isn’t just romantic love, but friendship and anger.

Buffy: “Are you trying to get yourself killed? You can’t leave me. I can’t do this alone.”

Buffy and Giles hold each other and sob in front of the burning factory, before the scene cuts to Giles returning to his apartment and taking the police tape off his door. Angel monologues over the whole thing:

Angel: “It hurts sometimes more than we can bear. If we could live without passion, maybe we’d know some kind of peace, but we would be hollow. Empty rooms…shuttered and dank. Without passion, we’d be truly dead.

At Jenny’s grave, Buffy watches Giles place flowers at the headstone. Which inexplicably reads “Jennifer Calendar” instead of her actual name. Which I guess, if she was undercover or whatever, maybe that was her legal name and not Janna. But whatever.

Giles: “In my years as Watcher… I’ve buried too many people. But Jenny was the first I’ve loved.”

Buffy: “I’m sorry. I’m sorry I couldn’t kill him for you, for her. When I had the chance. I wasn’t ready, but I think I finally am.”

While Buffy says her lines, the scene cuts to the computer room, where Willow timidly accepts the post of substitute teacher in place of Jenny. When she sets her things down on the desk, we hear Buffy’s voice saying that Angel is gone and he’s never coming back, and the disk with the spell that will restore Angel’s soul slips into a crack and is lost.

Okay, this is probably the best episode of the entire series, hands down, even if it’s the hardest to watch. No other episode engages the viewer on such a personal level, not even “The Body” in season five. This is the episode that fully brought the viewer into Buffy’s world, and made us feel like we were a part of the show with the characters, which is truly the mark of a great series.

Head canon time, for #2. Jenny Calendar and Buffy are incredibly similar characters. They’re both “the chosen one.” Buffy has been chosen to protect the world from vampires, Jenny has been chosen to ensure the eternal torment of Angel. Their duties create complications in their love lives, as they both fall for men who are incompatible with their destinies. Jenny and Buffy both have irreverent senses of humor, and fluster Giles with their frankness. The only difference between them? Is that one is an adult, and therefore a suitable romantic partner for Giles, and the other is a child, and he’s not a creepy, creepy pervert waiting on a young girl to become barely legal. However, as the show progresses and Giles starts to see Buffy as an adult, and their relationship becomes of that of two adults relating to each other, he becomes more and more uncomfortable with his place in her life, which we really begin to see mid-season four. But more on that when we get there. Anyway, this season shows us that Giles has a type, and Buffy fits it.

But I really wish Ms. Calendar hadn’t died, and I think that’s something most of us can agree on.

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  1. I think you have something here: “He’s clearly infected with #8 as well. It must be in the drinking water.” Perhaps it’s a brain parasite, similar to toxoplasmosis (which causes infected rodents to be attracted to cats, because the parasite’s life cycle requires ingestion by both a rodent and a cat). It makes sense that, near a hellmouth, a parasite might evolve that requires ingestion by both a supernatural predator and its human prey.

    May 20, 2015
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    • Jon
      Jon

      Brilliant head cannon!

      May 20, 2015
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      • Jon
        Jon

        canon – oops!

        May 20, 2015
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    • Anon123
      Anon123

      This is an amazing theory. I love it!

      May 21, 2015
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  2. Isaac Rabinovitch (@isaac32767)
    Isaac Rabinovitch (@isaac32767)

    Sigh. In one episode commentary you’ve managed to cover all the reasons I loved watching Buffy and all the reasons I’m tired of all things Joss Whedon.

    May 20, 2015
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  3. Laina
    Laina

    Man. I kinda hate this episide, but this is such a good episode.

    May 20, 2015
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    • Lieke
      Lieke

      This. A thousand times this. This episode is so good that I hate it.

      May 20, 2015
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  4. Did you catch the monitor=computer trope here? Because I always thought it was weird that Angel didn’t destroy the actual computer.

    May 20, 2015
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  5. Excuse me Joyce but you almost married a murder-robot so you don’t get to tell Buffy she used “poor judgement”.

    May 20, 2015
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    • Person
      Person

      BAM

      May 25, 2015
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  6. “She sprinkles some food in her fishtank, then sees an envelope on her bed.”

    You forgot to describe what IN that envelope! (Which I see you described later, but you left it out here.)

    “Are there other magic shops in Sunnydale? All of them peddling legitimate magical goods?”

    Sounds more like a continuity issue because I think someone mentions all the owners dying at the store when Giles buys it, like it’s the only one in town.

    “#24, How do these kids know all these outdated references, anyway?”

    Parents. I knew a ton of stuff I shouldn’t have because of mine and my friends’ parents. I even had friends later who were shocked at things I knew.

    May 20, 2015
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    • Anon123
      Anon123

      Who nitpicks the nitpickers? 🙂 j/k

      May 21, 2015
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      • LOL

        I only pointed it out because it’s kind of important to the scene and if someone’s reading who never saw the episode, they wouldn’t understand what happened.

        May 21, 2015
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    • yogacat
      yogacat

      The shop could have moved to a larger location when business started picking up to coincide with Hellmouth increase activity.

      May 21, 2015
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  7. Reasons why 14 year old Lexie showed up looking like a beloved family member had died the next day #1: JOSS FUCKING WHEDON.

    I remember the shock of this episode (which I saw via VHS recording at a friend’s house because I wasn’t allowed to watch the series during the regular season until the 3rd season) and how I was certain, so damn certain, she’d be back (and she sort of does come back…briefly…horribly…).

    May 20, 2015
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    • Isaac Rabinovitch (@isaac32767)
      Isaac Rabinovitch (@isaac32767)

      This is Whedon turning the red shirt cliche on its head. Unfortunately he’s done it so many times it’s become a cliche itself.

      May 20, 2015
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  8. Jon
    Jon

    Minor point but don’t graves need to settle for several months before a head stone can be added?

    May 20, 2015
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    • Suzy
      Suzy

      Not necessarily. Usually the head stone goes in much later. And woukd be so for a single woman like Jenny. But in the case of spouses one dieing first, they don’t remove the stone when they bury the second. (I only know this because where I’m from spouses share double plots and headstones).

      May 20, 2015
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    • Elena
      Elena

      Yes. Each religion might do this differently but in mine we bury someone faster than a headstone can be made anyway.

      May 20, 2015
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      • Anon123
        Anon123

        This is definitely true in Judaism, idk what others it might be true of also, and you didn’t specify. 🙂

        May 21, 2015
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      • Laina
        Laina

        Mm, you know what? Not a religious aspect, but Jenny’s death was obviously suspicious. In the real world, there’d be a criminal investigation, and that, including autoposy and what-not, could take a fair amount of time.

        May 21, 2015
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  9. Ilex
    Ilex

    Jenny reminds Giles that she was raised to be loyal to her people. But she also says that Angel hurt her people the most. I’m curious about this. I think all we ever find out is that one girl was killed a long time ago, and Angel was cursed. But then I think of Drusilla, and how Angel tortured her until she was psychologically destroyed, then turned her into a vampire doll for him to play with.

    I’ve always thought Drusilla IS the girl from Jenny’s Kaldash people. Am I the only person under that impression?

    May 20, 2015
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    • Annie
      Annie

      No, I totally got that impression too. I thought maybe there was a flashback at some point that showed Drusilla as being that girl and she rejected Angel or something to that effect so he destroys her people/community and torments her and finally breaks her and she becomes the lovely creature we all know and love today.

      May 20, 2015
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    • JennyTrout
      JennyTrout

      She couldn’t have been, because he killed the Kalderash girl in 1898, and Drusilla was made a vampire in 1860. Drusilla helped kill the Kalderash camp, too.

      May 20, 2015
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      • Candy Apple
        Candy Apple

        I’ve spent this entire time thinking Drusilla was the Gypsy girl Angel killed. o.O

        May 24, 2015
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        • You know, that definitely would have been a more satisfying storyline. But I was never really bothered by the “we were the ones hurt the most” assertion by Jenny’s uncle, because everyone always thinks they were the ones hurt the most.

          January 8, 2016
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    • JennyTrout
      JennyTrout

      Quick, ask me when the American Civil War was. LOL.

      May 20, 2015
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    • Renee J
      Renee J

      Drusilla was Catholic. Angel first sees her when she went to confession and he pretended to be a priest.

      May 20, 2015
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      • Most Romani/Travelers are Catholic.

        But they gave Angel his soul when he killed that girl, so it couldn’t have been Dru since they were buds for years before he got his soul back.

        May 21, 2015
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    • Jemmy
      Jemmy

      I thought that might be the case until we got more backstory on them both and she clearly isn’t the Kaldash princess.

      May 21, 2015
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    • Kim
      Kim

      No, its some gypsy girl who Angel describes as beautiful, but “dumb as a post” I don’t think they even bother doing a flashback to show what he did to her, which seems like a big oversight as we get flashbacks for every other bit of character defining backstory. From what I remember in the Angel episode that crossed over with “Fool For Love” they do show Darla terrorizing some tribal leader, trying to get him to undo the curse and bring her boyfriend back.

      May 28, 2015
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    • Lori
      Lori

      This is exactly what I was going to say.

      September 15, 2015
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  10. Ilex
    Ilex

    And wow, that scene where Buffy and Willow find out about Miss Calendar. I wasn’t a teenager when I saw this show — gah, I was your age now when it started, Jenny! — but this whole episode, and that view through the window, have been printed on my brain ever since I watched it the first time. It’s just incredibly powerful.

    May 20, 2015
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  11. Melodie
    Melodie

    I remember literally gasping out loud and clasping my hands over my mouth in that moment. I was so expecting Buffy to burst in and save her. Then the tears came. I was so shaken by that scene. It broke my fragile teen mind to think that a beloved main character would get killed off in such a way. This is a great episode and deserves to be near the top of any fans favourite episode lists.

    I also share your hatred of Angel after this episode, though I actually disliked him before much like Xander did. But I, at least, understood his appeal before. I could never understand how people so quickly forgave him for killing Jenny and wanted to see him back. I cheered when Angel was killed, though I felt bad for Buffy having to do it. I just disliked Angel so much and wanted him gone.

    May 20, 2015
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    • monkyvirus
      monkyvirus

      I think the thing is you can really see Angel as two different people. Unlike Spike, who has a bit more nuance, Angelus is super evil and has no redeeming qualities there’s clearly no Angel in there. But when Angel comes back does it make sense to hate on a character who had no control over his actions? (In the sense that his soul wasn’t present and I believe that bit IS Angel). Also he was tortured for a 100 years so punishment enough y’know?

      May 30, 2015
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      • Jane
        Jane

        I always liked Buffy’s framing of Angelus as “the demon walking around wearing my boyfriend’s face,” and because of it I always saw them as two different people as well. Angel’s soul was the only redeeming part of his personality, as is indicated by the pre-vampire flashbacks to Angel’s life. Spike was a lot softer of a person before he was turned, so their vampire personality differences make sense to me.

        June 18, 2015
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  12. Alias Quint&Jessel, Sea of Azof, Bly, UK
    Alias Quint&Jessel, Sea of Azof, Bly, UK

    This was such a brutal, shocking episode, and also my favorite. Some people complain about Xander lying to Buffy when she’s off to kill Angel whilst Willow’s doing the soul spell–but I agree with Xander. Angelus/Angel did a horrible thing–that’s what he DOES–and he needs to be stopped for good.

    Of course, I lurve me some Angel, too. Don’t judge me!

    I believe the thing with the envelopes is stalker-fear tactics; Angelus can get in your room and kill the fish you were feeding whilst you are also in the room! Damn!

    Joyce–is a pretty realistic portrayal of a mother.

    Magic shop guy faking his accent, etc.: I take it as the writers mocking New Age gits. Oooh, pretty crystals that will focus my tiny mindthoughts! No, this is some badass stuff, and you are a moron.

    Man, Jenny’s murder. Still one of the most shocking moments I have ever seen. Giles’ setup: Still one of the most amazing moments I have ever seen.

    May 20, 2015
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    • Anon123
      Anon123

      Joyce is pretty bad, imho. I mean, I’ve had personal experience with much worse, but she’s like…getting a C- in parenting, if I’m grading on the curve.

      May 21, 2015
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  13. Alias Quint&Jessel, Sea of Azof, Bly, UK
    Alias Quint&Jessel, Sea of Azof, Bly, UK

    Oh, want to add–Cordy giving her gramma her car? I love Cordy.

    May 20, 2015
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  14. Issa
    Issa

    The first time I can remember crying during an tv show. Angelus was bad but I couldn’t believe they’d go there, and it totally made me a fan of the show.

    While I empathized with Buffy, it was good to see the plot move. I get how hard it is to accept someone you love had changed so much. And hope is terrible thing, it keeps you from moving on. So while I understood it, I was happy this episode move us beyond whether Angelus was Angel and if he could be “saved.”

    I’ll forever miss Miss Calendar though.

    May 20, 2015
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  15. Alison
    Alison

    I can picture Xander in his sad little basement room watching old movies late into the night to drown out the sounds of his parents fighting. I think he is one of those teenagers who might know a lot of old or esoteric pop references. Not so much Buffy or Willow, though.

    Also, I am about to give up on my guppies. They keep disappearing. I’m pretty sure they’re eating each other. My mom had some guppies in her community tank that she had to get rid of because all her live bearers started dying as soon as the guppies arrived. Beginner fish, my ass.

    May 20, 2015
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    • Laina
      Laina

      Did you know goldfish can cannabalize each other?

      My mom told me when I was like 2, they got a bunch of goldfish. One by one, they’d come into the room over several days, and find one less fish. Eventually there was just one left. They named him Moby.

      May 20, 2015
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      • Anon123
        Anon123

        Because he was a dick?

        May 21, 2015
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        • Danielle Charron
          Danielle Charron

          Best. Comment. Ever.

          May 21, 2015
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      • Alison
        Alison

        Well, I’m down to two. One male and one female. I’m thinking of calling them Peeta and Katniss.

        May 21, 2015
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      • Ilex
        Ilex

        Goldfish can be pretty vicious. They like company, but they hate crowding and competition, so you have to balance how many you keep together and how much space they have.

        Everyone thinks goldfish are supposed to be “easy” to care for, but I got stuck with three of them that a friend bought on a lark and then didn’t want, and I was amazed by how much work they actually are. And if you take proper care of them, they have a life expectancy of 15 to 20 years, not the 6 months most people seem to expect. I had mine for 5 years, during which time two of them bullied the third to an early death, despite their 30-gallon tank. I eventually had to give both survivors to a pet store for adoption; I’ve wondered ever since if they got good homes and are still alive.

        June 10, 2015
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  16. ArgentLA
    ArgentLA

    #24 doesn’t faze me at all. First, even in the days before the web, geeky teens were apt to spend a lot of time hanging out in libraries, used bookstores, video stores (remember those?), and/or record shops, soaking up weird trivia. It’s not at all improbable that a character like Xander would have read some books on cult movies of the ’60s and ’70s. I did at that age, and I knew people in high school who were really into oddball cult movies and horror films I probably wouldn’t otherwise have heard of.

    Also, teenagers like to sound more sophisticated and worldly than they actually are, so it makes perfect sense to me that characters like these might reference things they’ve heard of but never seen. For instance, Xander might well have seen a Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! poster and remembered it (because, well, Tura Satana) even if he’d never actually seen the movie. Maybe there’s a poster hanging in a local video store or something like that. I remember going in video stores as a kid and being fascinated by posters or video boxes for movies I either wouldn’t have been able to (or would have been a bit too chicken) to rent.

    The multiple magic stores could have been a fun plot opportunity. I’ve seen towns or neighborhoods where former friends or even siblings set up competing businesses literally across the street from one another. Maybe there was originally only one and there was some terrible falling out between the proprietors over something they would or wouldn’t carry in the shop. So, the estranged folks left to start their own rival magic shop. Perhaps they’re even waging a quiet, occasionally effectual magical war through the quiet streets of this sleepy and yet remarkably terrifying little town. It’s not like anybody would probably notice!

    May 21, 2015
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  17. Anon123
    Anon123

    Okay, you finally motivated me enough to go find a whole episode and watch it. (I never watched this show as a kid; just couldn’t get into it for whatever reason.) I’m cracking up over the visual gag of the self-defense class flyer on the pillar behind Buffy and Giles when they’re discussing how to combat Angel early on. Joss Whedon may be many unpleasant things, but this reminds me how well he knows his way around a visual gag. It’s the little things, you know? It’s the little things that don’t in any way make up for the big things, but can nevertheless be appreciated in their own right.

    May 21, 2015
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  18. Alias Quint&Jessel, Sea of Azof, Bly, UK
    Alias Quint&Jessel, Sea of Azof, Bly, UK

    Oh, and Stephenie Meyer totally stole that “Edward sneaking in to watch Bella sleep” from this ep of “Buffy.” Except it’s clear here that a vampire sneaking in to watch you sleep, and drawing a picture and leaving it for you to find when you wake up, is a terrifying and menacing stalker thing to do.

    May 21, 2015
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  19. My biggest nitpick with this episode is the whole Willow as a substitute teacher thing. I realize Sunnydale is not exactly the model city for child/teen welfare, but there is no way that they would have a student teaching a class as a sub. In most places, you need a certain amount of college credit to even apply, but you definitely need to be an adult. Jenny should have called the school administration, not Willow. *gets off soapbox*

    May 21, 2015
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    • Kelsey
      Kelsey

      Right? This drives me up the wall!

      May 23, 2015
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    • monkyvirus
      monkyvirus

      I know! It doesn’t help that Willow is one of my least favourite characters so I eye-rolled all over this plot point.

      May 30, 2015
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    • Jen K
      Jen K

      I’m coming late to this party but I just found this blog (and I totally love it). Well I agree that Willow would never be a substitute teacher because there’s laws about having an adult supervising and all, I actually kind of substituted for one class in HS. I was a “peer tutor” for this class (basically means I took it the year before and the teacher liked me and let me get another credit to come back and be his assistant). During the semester the teacher’s dad died and he was out of town for awhile. Every day a substitute would come but their I structions read “I have given Jen the lesson plan. Hand the class to her.” So it can happen…. Ish

      July 13, 2015
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  20. I’m surprised it wasn’t brought up (and I only thought of it last night while I was rewatching myself) but at no point does Buffy EVER condemn her mother for her bad choices in guys (homicidal Ted in season 1 anyone?) or friends (Pat who gave her the African(?) zombie mask in season 3?), yet Joyce is constantly condemning Buffy’s choices (both under the influence of magic–like with Hansel & Gretel and not, I seem to remember Joyce blames Giles for getting Buffy into the whole Slayer thing and later has a beef with Willow the Witch?)

    May 21, 2015
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  21. Jessica
    Jessica

    I must say, for me “The Body” still holds more emotional weight. Although that could be because I first saw it a few weeks after my mum died so…

    May 21, 2015
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  22. Artemis
    Artemis

    -I will probably never forget when one of my best friends in middle school told me about this episode and how upset she was by it. I’m pretty sure I remember her retelling better than I remember the actual episode.

    -I also never, ever trusted Angel again after this.

    -No one ever went in the library at my high school. Like, ever. The books and periodicals were so dated as to be useless, and I’m pretty sure there were no computers. You could have easily plotted to kill vampires there without anyone noticing if not for the super mean nun who ran the library. She was another reason no one ever went in there. My sophomore year the library was closed for the whole year due to fire damage and I feel like it was barely even noticeable.

    May 21, 2015
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  23. Meaghen
    Meaghen

    This is, hands down, my favorite episode of the series. I may enjoy Once More, With Feeling, the most, but this is the one that enthralled me with the series.

    All the feels.

    May 21, 2015
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  24. paris
    paris

    I love the idea of cats writing for this show. I truly cannot wait until you get to some of the later seasons just to be able to explore the Spike psyche. Re-watching the episodes now I get so fustrated with him but its also pretty fascinating when I think about what it means for him to be without a soul compared to Angel. I HATED Angel until I finally broke down and watching his show and there he was redeemed SLIGHTLY. This episode is heartbreaking because I adored Giles and seeing him so happy and hopeful right before was cruel but made for an amazing follow through. Xandergrates on my nerves until he falls for Anya so I’m looking forward to seeing what you think of that as well.

    May 23, 2015
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  25. Kelsey
    Kelsey

    I disagree about your Passion vs. The Body comparison.

    When I saw which episode this was, my heart sank. With that one, I might actually not read it. When people ask me about my most memorable episodes, I always give three: Campy (Once More with Feeling), Creepy (Hush), and Emotional (The Body).

    May 23, 2015
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  26. Candy Apple
    Candy Apple

    I thought all of you would appreciate this. It’s a picture Sarah Michelle Gellar (Buffy) posted on her Instagram account yesterday of her and Alyson Hannigan (Willow) at a party at Alyson’s house. It’s adorable!

    https://instagram.com/p/3CfEPOMY9d/

    May 24, 2015
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      • Lieke
        Lieke

        They look exactly the same as they did when they starred in BtVS. How is that even possible? Vampire alert!

        May 24, 2015
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        • Candy Apple
          Candy Apple

          I know! It’s like no time has passed.

          May 24, 2015
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      • Person
        Person

        OMG, thank you! This is the best thing ever! And it gives me hope for how long friendships formed due to seeing people pretty much everyday can last in the long run, once you no longer see them everyday.

        May 25, 2015
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  27. Alkja
    Alkja

    My theory about the “isn’t the school a public place” thing: generally, it is. After all, it’s not a place of residence. My guess is that, since Angelus has already attacked them there, the gang did the anti-vampire spell to barr his access. Except the spell can be annulled by a new invitation and they failed to account that the inscription could be taken as such by someone who knows latin well enough… somebody like, say, a guy born in the 18th century (particularly an Irish Catholic).

    May 24, 2015
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    • Candy Apple
      Candy Apple

      I always figured Jenny was asking Angelus, “How did you get in here?” as in, ‘how did you end up lurking in my half-darkened classroom without me noticing you?’ And then him replying sarcastically as “Well, there’s a welcome sign on the door to the school.” Not that he actually ever needed an invitation to enter; he was just being a wiseass in response to her question.

      I mean, he’s obviously never had trouble getting into the building either before or after he lost his soul, and neither did Darla in the pilot episode, or Spike with his gang of vamps. Public buildings are just instant access in the Buffyverse.

      May 24, 2015
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      • Alkja
        Alkja

        I don’t know. I think I’ll keep with my spell theory.

        Leaving aside the fact that if the school is just as much of a public place as it always was, then Jenny is a monumental idiot for picking that place for working on the spell (she teaches computer science, she must have a pc at her house where no vampires can get in, right?), she seemed genuinely shocked to find Angelus there. Not just surprised or understandably scared, but shocked, like she thought he could not get in.

        Also, if it was just a matter of “How did you sneak up on me?” I feel Angelus would be more likely to say something like “That’s the danger of meddling in other people’s business, you miss things” or “Please, I could have sat on your desk without you noticing” or something equally dismissing of puny human perception.

        The fact that he specifically mentions the “Ingredite vos” motto reads to me more like “Why so surprised? Did you think you were safe here? Yes, well done on that anti-vampire spell, too bad you forgot about the literal welcome sign above the door. Dumbasses.”

        May 25, 2015
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        • Candy Apple
          Candy Apple

          If they could put a spell on public buildings to keep vamps out, why wouldn’t they do that all over town? Why not in Giles’s magic shop? Why not at The Bronze? Vamps would have been forced to do their business in alleyways instead of mingling with mortals.

          And another thing…I’ve always wondered, if they can restore a vampire’s soul, wouldn’t it have been the humane and compassionate thing to do to go around restoring souls, instead of dusting vamps? I mean, they could have checked local yard sales to find the rest of the Orbs of Thessalah that the shopkeeper sold as “New Age paperweights” and created an army of good, soul-having vamps. I’m just saying.

          May 25, 2015
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          • Alkja
            Alkja

            My guess is, it would not be practical, especially if it can be annulled by another invitation. Or maybe it’s vampire specific: you can bar a specific vampire from coming in, but not every single one.

            Re: forced re-ensoulement. There is no guarantee the resulting vampire would be good only because they got their human soul back. Humans can be right bastards.

            May 25, 2015
          • Courtney
            Courtney

            The spell seems to take a lot out of Willow when she does it later in the season and I think it’s described as being very dangerous, isn’t it?

            May 26, 2015
  28. christin prustel
    christin prustel

    I literally just watched that episode. The feels.
    I give you some of those points Jennifer (especially Buffy’s strength changing) but stop nitpicking and just enjoy the show! It is a great one! I also disagree with some of your points.

    May 26, 2015
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    • Person
      Person

      She’s not nitpicking, she’s engaging with it critically. IMO being able to do that is a sign that you really enjoy a show for what it is and you’re not just sitting and staring at the pretty lights – which isn’t to say kicking back and not caring about anything isn’t a valid way to watch stuff, but when you’re watching stuff that matters to you on a personal level, like Buffy does to so many people, you really should be keeping your eyes open and your brain on full power. The show deserves it. And on a related note, I for one find it way more fun to be active and questioning in my enjoyment of media I consume, so to “stop nitpicking” by discussing positive/negative/otherwise interesting things it’s shown me would make a show far less enjoyable for me.

      May 26, 2015
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  29. Rebecca
    Rebecca

    There is a flashback to Angel killing the Romani girl in Angel, but not in Buffy. The girl doesn’t get a name and he kills her by sucking out the blood through her femoral artery.

    May 29, 2015
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  30. I never forgave Angel for this, either. I didn’t much like him to begin with, but killing Jenny and putting her on display in Giles’s bed was beyond the pale. When he came back later, I just wanted him gone forever. I later watched his spinoff show, but only the last season because of Spike (who I actually really liked because of his nuance).

    Also, I could never stand Xander. But I could buy him referencing older pop culture because it was something I did myself when I was a teenager. I grew up watching older movies and TV shows, so I actually understood a lot of his references when I first watched the show.

    But yeah. This episode… God, I was so mad. My headcanon for the last episode of Angel was that he got ripped apart by that dragon.

    June 11, 2015
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    • lol nuance
      lol nuance

      Interesting. Did Spike’s actions (you know what I mean) in S6 bother you then or was that forgivable?

      September 16, 2015
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      • I quit watching after season five, but no, I did not think his actions were forgivable. And I said he had nuance because he wasn’t a one note villain. But go ahead and “lol” at me for saying so.

        September 16, 2015
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        • Lieke
          Lieke

          I’m one of the (apparently rare) people who likes both Spike and Angel. And it’s difficult to compare the actions of soulless Angel and Spike because the Buffy writers wrote them so differently. Honestly, I think the writers sort of screwed up.

          They created a universe with certain rules (vampires are dead people possessed by a demon, so it is okay for Buffy to kill them) and then they messed with that rule. The rule definitely applies to Angel. He is not himself when he is soulless and could therefore be said not to be responsible for the demon’s actions. Spike, on the other hand…

          Soulless Spike and Spike with a soul aren’t all that different. Soulless Spike seems very much like human Spike. He just drinks blood and acts tough. He already cares about people and feels guilty when he hurts people whereas Angel seems only capable of doing that when he has a soul. Spike ability to care and regret makes the attempted rape scene even harder to watch. If soulless Angel had done that; it would simply have been the demon’s desire to torment Buffy. With Spike, however, it doesn’t happen because he wants to hurt Buffy. No, it’s because he is in love with her (or obsessed) and is desperately trying to find a way to connect with her. Very human motives.

          Personally, I find it almost impossible to compare Angel and Spike’s soulless actions, because their soullessness doesn’t seem to operate according to the same rules. Angel is a completely different person soulless. Spike is Spike.

          September 17, 2015
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          • Michelle
            Michelle

            Hmm… I just figured it was that Spike had more ‘humanity’ than Angel; like in the episodes with The Judge, it’s made clear that some vampires are more ‘human’ than others: the Judge could burn some, but not all, vampires. Spike and Drusilla, he said, reeked of humanity, because they loved each other. Angel did not – The Judge tried to burn him, and couldn’t.
            I think the major difference between soulless/soulful Spike is that soulful Spike only shows remorse when he hurts someone he has grown attached to… and even then, he only seems to regret the ways his actions negatively affect him. (He certainly feels no guilt over murdering tons of people, is positively gleeful at the memory of murdering slayers, relishes the idea of hurting Buffy in pretty much every season, kidnaps & threatens both Buffy and Drusilla in season 5, and intentionally isolates & plays into Buffy’s depression in season 6. Also, when he thinks his chip has stopped working, his immediate response is to try to go kill someone… who, interestingly, looked a great deal like Buffy.) His seeking out a soul didn’t seem to me like necessarily guilt or a real conscience in that sense – more like one last desperate attempt to prove himself to Buffy, to make her love him, to become what she wanted. He’d been trying to convince her that a chip was ‘just as good as’ a soul – that he wasn’t a monster because he was being restrained from killing -and finally understood why that wasn’t good enough. He had just enough humanity (and had been raised with very Victorian ideas about a man protecting ‘his woman’) to get that attempting to rape your beloved is unconscionable, unforgivable… so he tried to find a workaround, to make her forgive him. So I do see them as quite different -although soulful Spike is still kind of a dick.

            October 29, 2015
  31. Oooh, another Buffy rewatch. I was hoping you were going to do these again. Almost as much as watching Buffy, I daresay.
    And yeah, Jenny…sniff. It might be interesting if Dark Horse comics did a some What If?-style one-shots or mini-series to explore how things in the Buffy-verse would have turned out had things happened differently. Like, if Jenny were not killed, or if she were turned into a vampire (actually, I think that might have the potential to have tortured Giles-in the long run-worse than outright killing her).
    Or, What If? Buffy remained dead after the Master “killed” her?

    June 22, 2015
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  32. Crystal
    Crystal

    I feel like I didn’t forgive angel for any of this until his series. If fact, I loved angel without Buffy. I felt he was a stronger character.

    That being said, I cried just reading this recap. I used to watch every episode of Buffy standing in front of my TV. Literally, the whole episode. I would be so excited I couldn’t sit still. I did the same with the last season if angel. But this was one of the few episodes that brought me to my knees. I was so hysterical I couldn’t stand (this also happened during an episode of the walking dead. And I was sitting then. Fell off the couch screaming and crying). This is my favorite episode, no matter how much it hurts me. As much as I loved this show before, I loved it even more after.

    July 13, 2015
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  33. LC
    LC

    I was barely older than the kids on the show when I watched this and I knew “Faster Pussycat” because it used to play at the rep theatre all the time, so that didn’t strike me as odd.

    As you say, the Calendar death is nasty, but the follow through is what made this so amazing. The whole Giles scene was just brutal (I was watching it with my roommate Paige at the time and we both just kept going “no, no, no”). I am also inordinately fond of the Ripper!Giles scene with the baseball bat and Spike’s wonderful line about tagging in first.

    July 29, 2015
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  34. crumblycube
    crumblycube

    Because I hate this episode with an unbridled “passion” and absolutely hate re-watching it by myself, I had to skip ahead in your recaps so I could read Jenny’s dead body in Giles’ bed scene before watching it. Like, I literally paused it at the rose and said- “mehhhhh, I have to find the recap of this shit because it makes my cry everytime and I don’t want to cry but rather read snark.” I don’t know if it made me feel better, but it definitely didn’t make me feel worse.

    September 17, 2015
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  35. crumblycube
    crumblycube

    Also, in response to #24. I’ve always assumed it was the obvious trope overlay break with reality that the writers intentionally put in there. We as the audience know that there is absolutely no way that teenagers would ever know most of those references and deliver them in the fast-paced awesome cadence that they do. And the writers knew we would know. It always felt like an aside to the audience. What you will notice is that almost never in the entire series is a single reference ever commented on by the characters. It’s absolutely awesome for the audience, but never needed for any plot development (the only time I recall a character referencing a reference was Buffy commenting on not knowing who the captain and tennile were).

    Plus I recall reading a Joss Whedon interview saying they wrote those references in because they wished as teens they could have been cool and sophisticated enough to make them. It basically made the writers happy to have banter that would never be realistic to the characters.

    September 17, 2015
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  36. On the opposite side
    On the opposite side

    I must be one of the few people who was glad Jenny died and could not, for the life of me, figure out why everyone was so upset about it. I mean, if you look at it logically, Jenny was really a crappy person, who deliberately and with malice aforethought kept a flipping HUGE secret that was pertinent to the group — and for a really long time, to rub salt in the wound — refused to let Giles in after he **accidentally** hurt her, but then got pissy with him for not wanting to be around her after she **deliberately** betrayed them all.

    Oh! And she managed to avoid taking responsibility for what happened to Angel by making it Buffy’s fault for doing something that could have been avoided had Jenny actually opened her mouth and told SOMEONE what she knew. Like, say, Giles.

    No, she was a bitch and I was glad they killed her. This is a heartbreaking episode, don’t get me wrong, but for me it’s the evolution of the Buffy/Giles relationship (yes, I ‘ship them so, so hard) that’s so profound, not the loss of a character who managed to lose her few good qualities in one fell swoop, refused to take responsibility for her own actions, and demanded forgiveness after refusing to give it herself (and she had a hell of a lot less reason than Giles to be angry).

    Yeah, I didn’t miss her at all.

    September 26, 2015
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    • Michelle
      Michelle

      Actually, it’s made pretty clear that she DIDN’T know what would happen -all she knew was that her family ordered her to spy on Angel, to try to keep him miserable. They didn’t tell her what would happen until it was too late.
      And she presumably hadn’t counted on growing close to them all, and it’s pretty dang hard to casually tell someone you care about ‘Oh, by the way, I was sent here to spy on you and your friends. I’m still totally on your side, though!’. I don’t agree that she was intentionally betraying them, nor that she had the requisite information to prevent Angel turning evil. And trying to explain your side, asking for forgiveness, is not the same as ‘refusing to take responsibility’.

      October 29, 2015
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  37. Michelle
    Michelle

    The one thing that never made sense to me in this episode: HOW did Angel set up that tableau in Giles’ house? I don’t recall him being invited into Giles’ home (at least not til the third season) and even if it happened off-camera, why would they not have un-invited him earlier in the ep, when they were doing everyone else’s houses? It’s not like Giles to forget something that important…

    October 29, 2015
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  38. Kim
    Kim

    This may fall under the umbrella of #3 but “Joyce is a fucking hypocrite” could be its own number. If I’m being generous I suppose it would be more “The authority figures on this show aren’t just EEEEVVVVIILLLL, they have realistic flaws the same way these teenagers do” Anyway, Joyce has zero legs to stand on while lecturing Buffy in good judgement with regards to men.

    January 4, 2016
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  39. Kim
    Kim

    Oh the cruel irony of Angel being Romani cursed for all eternity not for any of the victims he was obsessed with, the people whose lives and psyches he took so much pleasure in ruining (like Drusilla or, you know…Spike) but for some random chick he ate, who he describes as beautiful and ‘dumb as a post’

    January 4, 2016
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  40. Alex
    Alex

    Honestly, reading this particular recap makes me want to watch Buffy. I was never sure how I would like it, but more episodes with good writing like THIS? Oh-ho yes.

    March 10, 2016
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  41. Caly
    Caly

    I can explain why Jenny was buried under Jenny and not Janna, or rather, I have a way it makes sense, but I cringe at giving the writers that much credit.

    In Romani culture, you have multiple names, so Jennifer Calendar was likely her legal name, and the one she use with non-Romani people, while Janna is her Romani name, and Kalderash is her subgroup/clan/tribe whatever word you want to use and dialect.

    also the Kalderash is one of the largest freaking groups of Romani, so for all of them to be that peeved over one murder? Not realistic. AT ALL.

    July 16, 2016
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  42. Jane doe
    Jane doe

    Giles is not in love with Buffy. That’s weird you would even say that. They have a father/daughter thing foing on. Nothing weird. And the cat thing…i disagree. You’ve watched the whole series right? So how about season 6 when Buffy and Spike go into willys to get info and join a demon poker game where they’re playing for baskets of kittens? The rest of what you said is very amusing. Don’t know that i agree but i was amused anyways

    November 28, 2018
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  43. Pulp
    Pulp

    I reeeeally don’t like Angel. I hate him.
    The thing with Angel/Angelus is… Angelus is the real Angel.
    Through the series we see a lot of vampires. Like, A LOT. And most of them are just straight up hunters: they kill for food. They don’t feel particularly bad, but mostly just… eat. All of them retain some form of their human character. Like, it’s demon’d up, but they are similar to how they were before. Spike for example even after hundreds of years is still the same sort of wimpy poet, he just has the strength now to become a bully wimpy poet. (Spike 4ever but let’s be real).
    Like, few episodes before the Gorch brothers. They were stupid fucking yeehaw racist murderers and it didn’t change a bit when they’d become vampires. And they were humanlike in their brothers’ bond.
    And then comes Angelus who, the moment he became vampire and any consequences disappeared, started his serial torturer rapist killer shtick. This is him. He was this before, only he didn’t have means to execute his vision.
    And, here is just my headcannon, but I believe that his “soul” was just magic spell binding him from doing any wrong – sort of like Spike’s chip, only mystical. It’s not really a soul in christian meaning (notice how when Spike got his soul back, properly, not through a CURSE, nothing changed in him, not really), just part of his serial killer essence taken away. That’s why it’s torture for him.

    I know, I’m a few years too late to comment on these recaps, but this episode!

    September 15, 2019
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