30:01 – The End
You remember what happened last time, don’t you?
After Buffy Summers and Angel share their first kiss, Angel involuntarily goes all wrinkly faced and Buffy learns that he’s a vampire. The consensus among the Scooby Gang is that Buffy’s role as the Slayer means that she is obligated to kill him.
Buffy is conflicted on the topic, until super-femme-fatale Darla fools Buffy’s mother Joyce into thinking she’s a friend of Buffy’s, getting invited into the Summers house. Darla attacks Joyce and takes a sip from her neck, interrupted by Angel, who breaks down the front door to rescue Joyce.
When Buffy arrives home, she catches Angel in a compromising position, and jumps to the conclusion that he attacked Joyce. As Part 2 drew to a close, Joyce was in the hospital, and had just told Buffy that “her friend” stopped by and that she was preparing a snack when she must have fallen and cut her neck on a barbecue fork she didn’t think they owned.
At this point, Joyce hasn’t said who “her friend” was, or even indicated whether the friend was male or female. Naturally, Buffy thinks she means Angel.
In the hallway, away from Joyce, Buffy tells Giles and her friends that her mom is going to be okay. They’ve given her some iron because her blood count was a little low. Giles says a vampire attack presents itself like a mild anemia. Buffy was lucky that she got to her mom as soon as she did.
Buffy doesn’t feel lucky at all. She’s mad. She’s made up her mind to kill Angel now.
Giles is concerned because Angel is no ordinary vampire, if such a creature exists. He thinks it will take more than just a stake to kill him. Buffy agrees.
Before we move on to the next scene, I want to point out a couple of things that bother me about this sequence. If Darla’s plan all along was to frame Angel for an attack on Joyce Summers, how did she ensure that Angel would be in earshot when Joyce screamed? That’s problematic.
It’s more likely that she planned to kill Joyce and allow Buffy to think that Angel did it; she just got lucky. Also, no one asks the one question of Giles that I would have if Joyce were my mom. Will she turn into a vampire? That seems like a valid concern to me.
Yes, it’s already been established that Buffy knows that the process of making a vampire involves the exchange of bodily fluids (okay, blood — bodily fluids somehow sounds even more horror-inducing). But, how does one know that a bite victim didn’t also get a taste of their attacker?
Maybe it’s the fact that Joyce is not, in fact, dead. This fact, alone, would preclude her from becoming one of the undead. I could be overthinking this.
We cut immediately to Giles’ armory, where Buffy is loading a crossbow. Chekhov is dancing all over the place in this episode: clues planted in Act I are paying off in later scenes. Angel’s ugly back tattoo becomes proof of his identity as Angelus. Buffy’s desire to begin crossbow training pays off in Act III. Darla’s character motivation to get Angel back in her life somehow becomes a part of the Master’s Big Plan.
In a way, these things validate the existence of the earlier scenes. That’s good story construction there, Mr. Greenwalt.
Intercut with Buffy’s crossbow montage, Darla is in Angel’s apartment, rubbing salt into his wounds, which seems like a very vampire thing to do. She taunts him with the knowledge that Buffy now wants him dead. The Slayer will never accept him.
She is voicing thoughts you know that Angel is thinking himself. Darla says that Angel hasn’t had a moment’s peace in 100 years because he will not accept what he is. She’s goading him to accept it, to embrace it. Instead of letting Buffy kill him, she’s urging him to kill and to feed.
Angel pins Darla against the wall and says he wants to finish this.
Angel mentioned earlier in the episode that he lived nearby The Bronze (Chekhov rears his head again), so that’s where Buffy is patrolling with her crossbow.
Meanwhile, Rupert Giles is still at the hospital, talking to Joyce. Buffy’s mom realizes that her daughter is having trouble in history, and Giles says it’s largely because Buffy is occupied with the “now” instead of the “then.” Then, Joyce mentions that Buffy is being tutored by both Willow and Darla.
Giles doesn’t know who Darla is. Joyce says that she was the friend of Buffy’s she mentioned earlier who came by. She must have been frightened half to death when Joyce fainted; someone should really check on her to make sure she’s okay.
Giles agrees. Right away.
In the hospital hallway, Giles tells Willow and Xander: “We have a problem.”
Buffy is inside The Bronze for some reason. She calls out to Angel, saying that she knows he’s there, and that she knows what he is.
“Do you?” he asks. “I’m just an animal, right?”
“You’re not an animal,” she says. “Animals, I like.”
An action sequence ensues around the pool table. As we go into our final act break, Buffy has the crossbow aimed directly at Angel’s chest. He seems to be making a better target of himself. His plan seems to be suicide-by-Slayer.
Act IV begins on the heels of that cliffhanger. Angel reverts to human face and Buffy fires a bolt at him, missing a little to the right. It seems this was done on purpose, because she still has questions to ask the vampire. She wants to know why he didn’t just kill her when he had the chance. Why did he make her care for him? She says she’s killed hundreds of vampires, but she never hated one before now.
Then we get the story about the gypsy curse. Angel tells her that he fed on a Romany girl about Buffy’s age, dumb as a post but a favorite of her clan. The elders put a curse upon him that restored his soul.
You see, when the demon takes over a human, it doesn’t get their soul. That’s gone, which allows the vampire to kill without conscience or regret. Or, as Angel puts it, “with a song in his heart.” Angel says he hasn’t fed on a human since the curse was placed, although he admits he killed his own family, their friends, and the children of their friends long before that happened.
Buffy wants to know why he started again with her mom. He tells her that he didn’t bite Joyce. Why didn’t he tell her? He wanted to. He also wanted to kill her tonight.
Buffy does something that makes no sense to me. She puts down the crossbow and then bares her throat for Angel, urging him to do it. Maybe she knows, in her heart, that he won’t do it. Or, maybe, like Angel, she has a death wish. In either case, Angel doesn’t kill her.
“Not as easy as it looks,” Buffy says.
“Sure it is,” Darla says, revealing her presence as she emerges from the shadows, her vamped face looking like a waterlogged thumb.
Meanwhile, Giles, Willow and Xander are walking down a street, looking for Buffy.
At The Bronze, Darla drops some more exposition on us. She was the one who turned Angel into a vampire. They were an item for generations. Tonight, he had a chance to return to her and rule in the Master’s court for a thousand years. Now, he’ll just always have to remember how it felt to watch the Slayer die.
Buffy kicks the crossbow up into her hands. Neat trick. Must’ve been what she planned to do if Angel leaned in to take a nip. Darla produces a pair of chrome-plated handguns, and quickly puts a bullet into Angel.
Not to worry. Bullets can’t kill vampires. They just hurt like hell.
Darla begins firing at Buffy while she tumbles away over the pool table.
Of course, the Scoobies can hear the gunfire from outside The Bronze. Will they head towards the gunshots or away? What do you think?
Buffy fires the crossbow at Darla and strikes her, but, unfortunately, not in the heart.
Giles, Willow and Xander are now inside the Bronze. A little breaking-and-entering is de rigueur in Sunnydale. They are on the club’s second level, I believe. Xander mentions that they need to do something to distract Darla.
Willow calls out, saying, “Buffy, it wasn’t Angel who attacked your mom. It was Darla!”
The distraction worked. Darla begins firing her guns in the direction of the Scoobies, without hitting any of them. A mini John Woo scene follows. Darla jumps up on top of the pool table, Buffy grabs her ankles and knocks her flat, but Darla continues to fire two-handed as Buffy dives away.
Giles turns on strobe lights for some reason. Then, before Darla can kill Buffy, Angel pops up behind her and slams a crossbow bolt through her back.
He hits her heart, it seems. She says, “Angel?” and then falls to the floor and is dusted.
It seems like this effect is more instantaneous with your run-of-the-mill vampire, but Darla is special. She gets a more dramatic death. Darla is gone forever.
Or is she? Stay tuned.
Buffy and Angel look at each other for a moment, over the remains of his former lover. Then Angel turns without saying anything and leaves. Mysterious Guy to the core.
At his lair, the Master isn’t happy over this turn of events. He really thought that Darla’s plan would be a success and that Angelus would return to sit at his right hand when the day came.
Collin, the Anointed Kid, tells the Master to forget her. The Master says Darla was his favorite for four hundred years. Collin says they are all against him, but soon he will rise and they will kill them all. Collin is a silver-lining type of guy.
We get our outro this time at The Bronze, during the Post-Fumigation Party. Typical repartee, then Willow asks if Buffy still hasn’t heard from Angel. She answers no, but she still feels like he’s watching over her. Willow points out that he is watching her from across the room.
Angel and Buffy get to have their moment together while a slow dance song is playing.
Xander wisely chooses to face the other direction so that he doesn’t have to watch.
The two would-be lovers agree that their relationship can’t happen. For one, says Buffy, he’s like 224 years older than she is, aside from him being part-demon. But, the two kiss again anyway, telling the viewer that this relationship isn’t over.
After they separate and Buffy says “See you around,” we see that her crucifix (the one Angel himself gave to her at the beginning of this season) has burned an impression into his chest.
We get it: Love hurts. Since he has a mutant healing factor, I’m guessing it won’t leave a permanent mark.
And thus ends our story about Angel.
I liked this episode a lot. It accomplished a great deal of worldbuilding just by showcasing Angel’s backstory.
What have we learned?
Angel was sired—if that’s the correct word here—by Darla, who is older than he is. They were a couple for generations, killing their way across Europe. Angel killed a Romany girl, and, as a result, was cursed by gypsies with a soul. He has been unable to feed upon humans ever since. Angel has been in America for about eighty years.
What else? Vampires have to be invited in. The wood has to go into the heart to dust a vampire (that’s never been explicitly stated before now). When a human becomes a vampire, their soul is gone (except in Angel’s case), and whatever’s left is not human, although a vampire can adopt a person’s memories and personality. Angel, the vampire with a soul, is in some sort of in-between state, neither human nor wholly vampire.
And, regardless of anything said by the two characters, we know that the relationship between Buffy and Angel isn’t over at the end of the episode.
This was, in my opinion, the best episode of the season so far.
Firewater’s With-a-Song-in-My-Heart Episode Rating: 4 Stars
Now we’re getting somewhere. Things are beginning to happen. The show’s mythology continues to grow. What’s next? The episode “I Robot . . . You Jane,” where we get introduced to Moloch and a potential love interest for Rupert Giles. Join me here in the library after the final bell.