“I Will Remember You”
Written by David Greenwalt and Jeannine Renshaw
Directed by David Grossman
Angel is winding his desk clock and being maybe a little OCD about the way his desk sits. Cordy is worried that Angel is still reeling emotionally from his trip to Sunnydale. Doyle is less certain. Then they see Angel pull out a stake and, assuming he’s actually suicidal, they race into his office to stop him. But he’s just using the stake to level his desk. Why would you use a stake to level a desk? At least turn it so the part that sticks out does so underneath the desk. That’s a serious trip hazard. Angel reveals that he kept his presence in Sunnydale a secret from Buffy, which annoys Cordelia.
And Buffy. Who is there. Cordelia briefly makes with the pleasantries, but then, demonstrating possibly the most tact she has ever shown, she yanks Doyle out of the office with her.
Buffy is not happy with Angel. He was trying to be considerate of her feelings, but she feels like he was treating her like a child again. He manages to diffuse some of her anger, but he definitely thinks he might’ve handled the whole thing wrong after all.
In the outer office, Cordelia and Doyle leave, since Cordelia’s convinced that they’ll have hours before Buffy and Angel finish up.
Buffy admits that she doesn’t know if there was a better way for Angel to have handled it, but his efforts to protect her feelings were kind of in vain, because she can feel when he’s around. That goes both ways. And since nothing has changed about their situation, they have to continue to keep their distance. She’s about to head out when a demon crashes through the window. Doyle and Cordelia hear the fight and Doyle thinks they should maybe help, but Cordelia thinks it’s just Angel and Buffy fighting each other, so they leave. Buffy and Angel keep fighting the demon until they wound it badly enough for it to retreat, but before it does, it knocks Buffy on top of Angel on the floor. Hello again, sexual tension! They head after it.
Which means tailing it through the sewers. Buffy makes a slight dig about Angel’s vampirism, which he doesn’t appreciate. She gets defensive about the fact that the only weapon she brought is a stake. (Come on, Buffy, you know that was a dumb idea.) He thinks he can handle this demon alone, but she wants to help so that they’ll be even after what he did for her in Sunnydale. Then they have a painful conversation about how much they miss each other. Angel seems to be faltering, but Buffy manages to be the strong one this time. That doesn’t make it hurt less. Especially because things back in Sunnydale were starting to go well for her.
They split up, Buffy going back to the surface to see if the demon went that way, and Angel staying underground. I suspect he may have let her follow a dead-end trail on purpose to keep her safe, because he’s the one who finds the demon. It slices his hand, and he vamps out and fights it. He stabs it again, and it collapses. Its blood goes into his wound and rushes through him, and then we hear a heartbeat and he starts breathing heavily. Angel is human!
Cordy and Doyle cautiously return to the office, where they see the destruction left by the demon. Also Cordy finds a bunch of dust on the floor and thinks it’s vampire remains. But it’s just that she’s been lax with the sweeping lately. Angel walks in, looking dazed. Doyle’s the first one to figure out that Angel is human again. He’s mostly enjoying it, except for how much he hurts from the fight. And he’s starving. He loves apples and sandwiches and especially chocolate, but not yogurt. He sends Cordelia to find Buffy, and he and Doyle investigate the demon.
They find out that the demon was a Mohra demon, which has regenerative blood. Hence Angel’s shiny new pulse. Angel feels very suspicious about all this. He wants to make sure this is really legit. Doyle reluctantly takes him to speak with the Oracles. And Angel can read Greek!
Angel goes into the Oracles’…uh…meeting chamber, I guess. They look super cool.
He gives them his watch because he didn’t know he needed to bring a gift. The Powers that Be had nothing to do with his becoming human. It seems they can turn him human, but they wouldn’t until after he saves the world. This was just chance. It is legit, though. It’s like a loophole out of his destiny. He goes out and tells Doyle about it. Doyle asks what he wants to do with his human life.
Buffy is walking on the pier, when she turns around (Angel sense tingling). Angel walks out into the sunlight towards her and kisses her. The Buffy/Angel theme plays in the background, in a triumphant major key, like we’ve never heard it before.
Cordelia is kind of huffy about something. Doyle thinks she might be jealous. She’s just worried that badness will happen because Buffy and Angel are together again.
Buffy and Angel are having polite tea in his apartment. Angel thinks it might be a bad idea if they rush right back into a relationship. They should probably wait to make sure it’s safe. And it won’t be easy for human Angel to fit into Buffy’s life. She seems to be taking his caution the wrong way, so he assures her of how much he wants to be with her. She’s been fantasizing about what would happen if Angel miraculously became human fairly constantly over the last few years. The day her fantasies come true is not the day she wants to be all cautious. He thinks it can still work if they take it slow. But then their hands touch on accident, and all that sexual tension that has been building up since he came back from hell explodes. They start making out rather intensely.
Hours later, a naked Angel is collecting yummy food items to bring to Buffy, who is waiting on his bed, wearing his shirt. She’s enjoying how happy he is to experience human things like food for the first time in two and a half centuries. I don’t think either of them has ever smiled this much. Angel certainly hasn’t.
Cordelia thinks Angel being human means her job security has evaporated, and she doesn’t know what else to do. Doyle is happy, because he won’t have to deal with the painful visions anymore. Or, at least, in theory. He gets slammed with a vision right then, and it’s about the Mohra demon. Which isn’t as dead as Angel thought.
Buffy and Angel are intertwined under the covers. His heartbeat is her new favorite sound. This has been the best day of her life. She never thought she’d get to be like a normal girl falling asleep with her normal boyfriend.
Angel is watching Buffy sleep when he hears Doyle coming in. Doyle tells him about the Mohra demon. Angel decides to go fight it without waking Buffy up. Which is sweet, but kind of stupid. He thinks he needs to be able to continue fighting evil without Buffy’s help if their relationship is going to work. He and Doyle track the demon to a salt plant. They find a few of the workers there dead and bloody. The smell (or sight?) of the blood is almost too much for Angel to handle as a human. They get jumped by the demon. It knocks Doyle out, and Angel’s no match for it. He takes a beating, then tries to get away.
Buffy, dressed again, comes upstairs, where Cordelia is putting price tags on all of Angel’s stuff. She’s being a lot more like her self-absorbed Sunnydale self than she’s been lately. Buffy wants to know where Angel went, but Cordelia isn’t supposed to say. Cordelia thinks Buffy’s being super selfish for presuming she can be with Angel and still keep saving the world. (Yeah, how greedy of her.) She lets slip that Angel went to fight the Mohra demon again.
Angel is still fighting it, and he’s about to lose. Buffy shows up just in time to stop it from killing Angel. She fights it, and Angel figures out that its weak spot is the jewel in its forehead. Buffy smashes it and it disappears in a blinding flash of light. Then she cradles Angel, who’s going to be fine but is rather bruised at the moment.
Angel goes back to see the Oracles. The brother is annoyed to see him, but not the sister. The Mohra demon spoke of an army of monsters coming to Earth, and the Oracles tell Angel that Buffy will die when that happens. So Angel offers to trade his life for hers. They’re surprised. The brother thinks it’s just about love. And while that’s part of it, Angel also doesn’t want to abandon the fight against evil if things are really about to get so dire. The sister feels that he’s proven to be noble enough to deserve their help. They tell him they will rewind the day so that he can kill the demon before it turns him human, and only Angel will remember it.
Buffy is waiting anxiously in Angel’s apartment. He comes back, and she immediately senses that something’s wrong. He tries to hedge, but she’s too good at seeing through him. He admits what happened with the Oracles. She’s devastated. She doesn’t care what evil comes at her; she’ll fight it without his help if it means she can be with him. He tells her that they can’t be selfish; the lives of the people they protect are more important than them getting to be together. And the Buffy/Angel theme is back to minor key. He tells her the Oracles are going to rewind the day, and that she won’t remember it. She’s crying, promising she won’t forget. They kiss. She holds him tight.
Suddenly, we’re back at the beginning of the episode, at the part where Buffy’s saying they need to keep their distance until they can forget. Ouch. Angel looks disoriented and sad. The demon bursts in through the window, and Angel smashes the jewel in its forehead with his desk clock. Buffy is pretty impressed, but she’s also said everything she planned on saying, so she leaves. The clock is broken now, stuck on the minute the day restarted.
By now, it should probably come as no surprise to anyone reading my reviews that “I Will Remember You” is one of my favorite episodes. I don’t think there’s a more bittersweet episode in either show. Buffy fits easily into an episode of Angel, but it’s still his show, not hers. He’s the one with the friends here, and she’s the one in his orbit. I really like how many crossovers there are this early after the spinoff series began. It makes it feel less like a spinoff and more like a fork in the road of a single story, which is great. One thing that seems odd at first glance is the Mohra demon’s claim that an army is coming. No such army ever appears, and yet the Oracles confirm the truth of his words. My theory is that while the Mohra demon was offscreen, he did something to summon that army. If the Oracles hadn’t turned back the day, that army would have arrived very shortly, and Buffy would have died fighting it. But on take 2 of that day, Angel killed the Mohra demon before he could summon the army in the first place. Even though the net result of this episode’s plot is basically nothing, it isn’t a waste of time. Angel has shown plenty of dedication to the battle against evil, but he hasn’t really had to sacrifice anything to it (except the Gem of Amara, but that would’ve just made the battle easier). It’s hugely significant for his character that he will give up what he wants most (Buffy and a human life) if it means he can keep doing good in that battle.
Angel’s choice at the end of the episode is a strong parallel to Buffy’s choice at the end of “Becoming: Part 2.” She had to kill Angel to save the world. This time, he had to give up what looked like his best chance to be with her so that they would both be able to keep saving the world. At first, Buffy and Angel were such a compelling couple because they were both outcasts who were struggling to reconcile their roles with the lives they wanted. They continue to be compelling for me because of how much they’ve both sacrificed. They’re equals, and they’re amazing. If it wasn’t already clear that Angel is a hero of the same caliber as Buffy, then it certainly is now. When Angel broke up with her, she insisted that she wanted him more than she wanted a normal life. That may be true, but her lines in this episode about how she’s fantasized many times about him becoming human and how she’s always wanted to be “a normal girl falling asleep in the arms of her normal boyfriend” confirmed to Angel that he’ll never be able to make her as happy as he wants to make her as long as he’s a vampire.
Cordelia does quite a bit of backsliding when in close proximity to Buffy, and I want to examine that. I don’t believe it’s about jealousy, although she certainly does seem to harbor some kind of strange resentment towards Buffy. (Maybe she still sees Buffy as the reason for her own social downfall, despite the fact that Buffy saved her life over a dozen times.) I think part of her attitude is about fear. If Buffy and Angel live happily ever after, she’ll be left out in the cold with no job, and because she and Buffy aren’t friends, it may mean the end of her friendship with Angel, who is already the closest thing she’s ever had to a real friend.
Doyle is happy for Angel, which is really nice. His side of that friendship sometimes feels understated, but it shows through pretty strongly here. I also like the way he reacts when he gets hit with that vision after he thinks he’s done with them for good. He doesn’t complain or get angry, he just gravely goes about his business. Also, he is one seriously connected dude. How does he know about things like the Oracles? When did his visions start?
“This one is willing to sacrifice every drop of human happiness and love he has ever known for another. He is not a lower being.”
The Watcher's Diary
In this blog, I'll be reviewing, analyzing, and generally fangirling over excellent television. Exhibit A: the Whedonverse.