Written by Ty King
Directed by Michael E. Gershman
We’re at the Bronze, and the music is low and intense. Buffy and Xander are dancing (casually) while Willow and Cordelia chat at one of the tables. Angelus is watching Buffy from the shadows, and we hear a voiceover by him about the nature of passion. When the kids leave the Bronze, they pass what appears to be a couple making out, but it’s actually Angelus draining a girl dry. He watches them depart, his face (which, again, has no blood on it at all) shifting back to human features.
Buffy gets ready for bed, and when she turns the light out in her room, we see Angelus lurking out her window! *shudder* Then, as she’s sleeping, he caresses the side of her face. This will definitely not be a monster of the week episode.
When Buffy wakes up in the morning, she finds a parchment envelope on her pillow. It contains a charcoal portrait of her sleeping. It’s not signed, but she doesn’t need it to be. (I wonder if that means she saw enough of Angel’s artwork before he lost his soul to recognize it. Yeah, I’m gonna go with that. New headcanon.)
Buffy brings the news of Angelus’s stalkery behavior to the library. The problem is that since Buffy invited Angel into her house, Angelus effectively has a standing invitation. Buffy wants to know if there’s a way to rescind it with magic. Jonathan and another student come in looking for books, since they are in fact in a library, so the Scoobies take their discussion elsewhere.
Cordelia doesn’t get why Angelus is going for the slow burn with his stalking. He could’ve just killed Buffy in her sleep. What’s with the head games? Buffy’s thinking Angelus is probably planning to make her Drusilla2.0, which means her mom is in danger. Giles tries to keep Buffy from worrying, but Buffy tells him “That’s easy for you to say; you don’t have Angel lurking in your bedroom at night.” HOLY CRAP. I never noticed that before. It hurts. Giles insists that Buffy can’t let Angelus get to her; she has to be master of her passions. Ohhhh the irony. This is so cruel.
Jenny is just wrapping up her computer class, and she asks Willow to be in charge the next day if she happens to be late. (Uh…does Sunnydale High not hire substitute teachers? Actually, now that I think about it, after what happened with Miss French, maybe they’ve decided to play it safe and are forcing the full-time teachers suck it up.) Buffy and Giles show up. Buffy pointedly ignores Jenny.
The girls leave, and Jenny talks to Giles about Buffy and Angelus. Jenny has been doing some research of her own, and she offers Giles her resources. Giles is still a little frosty. Jenny tries to explain herself a little, and she ends up admitting that she’s in love with him. Giles is not unaffected. He smiles very warmly at her, but he feels Buffy is the one she really needs to make things right with.
At home, Buffy and Joyce are having dinner. Joyce is worried about her. She struggles to find a way to protect Joyce from Angelus without telling her too much, and she seems to succeed. Then she gets on the phone with Willow, who agrees that Buffy shouldn’t let Angel get to her. While Willow’s talking to Buffy, she pours some fish food in her fish tank…which is oddly devoid of fish. She stops talking when she notices an envelope on her bed. She pulls a string out of it and finds all her dead fish. Astute viewers may recall that Willow invited Angel into her room in “Lie to Me.” The camera work in this shot is brilliant; it moves around to look at Willow through the empty fish tank as she pulls her fish out of the envelope.
The stringing up of Willow’s fish calls for a pajama party at Buffy’s house, complete with stakes and huge strings of garlic. Willow is more scared than sad about her fish. Buffy is struggling to comprehend that the same guy she loved is now doing all this, because he’s completely different. Except, Willow points out, for how she’s the only thing he can think about.
At the factory, Dru is babying Spike, trying to convince him to eat a puppy she adopted after it was brutally orphaned by an insane British vampire lady.
Spike deeply resents being treated like a child, and Angelus returns in time to hear him lash out about it. He starts up with the taunting again. Spike is getting closer to snapping, especially when Angelus hints very strongly that he might already be sleeping with Drusilla. Drusilla quite enjoys being the hypotenuse of a love triangle, but then she gets a vision about someone trying to ruin things for them.
Jenny goes to a little magic shop on Main Street. The owner gives her the spooky act until she asks for an Orb of Thesula, proving she actually knows her stuff. He seems like a friendly guy. Jenny has a plan for how to get around the lack of translated texts for the rituals that require an Orb of Thesula. She’s planning on restoring Angel’s soul!
Time for school! Willow’s annoyed that Jenny is already there, because now she won’t get to lead the class. Buffy goes to catch up with Jenny so that she can grudgingly give her blessing on Jenny/Giles. Jenny starts to tell her about the restoration ritual she’s working on, but Buffy doesn’t want to keep talking to her.
Giles has found a ritual that will revoke a vampire’s invitation. That evening, they do the ritual at Willow’s house first. Willow’s family is Jewish, so the crosses nailed to her walls may lead to awkward questions. They find yet another scary parchment envelope in Willow’s room. This one contains a drawing of Buffy’s mom sleeping.
Joyce is just pulling up to the house, and Angelus is waiting for her. He’s very much acting like the creepy obsessed boyfriend. Joyce is getting seriously creeped out now. She’s even going to call the police, and then Angelus tells her he and Buffy slept together. He tries to follow her inside, but Willow is just finishing up the disinvitation ritual, so he’s stuck at the threshold.
Jenny is working on her translation program at the computer lab, and Giles comes in. They have a very adorable conversation that does NOT include Jenny telling him what she’s up to but does include Giles inviting her to his apartment.
The magic shop owner is closing up when Drusilla and her new little puppy come in. He’s instantly terrified. Drusilla knows that Jenny has been there and wants to know what she wanted.
Jenny’s program is a success! She’s going to be able to bring Angel back! She saves the file on a floppy disk (awww) and prints it out on dot matrix paper. That’s about when she realizes she has an audience. Angelus. He’s not interested in having his soul restored. (There's a really stupid bit of dialogue about how Angelus was able to enter the school because of the Latin open invitation on the sign in front of the school, but since the school isn't a residence and we've seen him enter the school about a dozen times already anyway, this makes no sense. Unless Jenny just meant how did he get in when it was all locked up for the night, and he misinterpreted that for some reason.) He picks up the Orb of Thesula off her desk, then hurls it at the blackboard so hard that it shatters. Jenny is completely terrified by this point, and trying to find a way out of the classroom. Angelus then smashes her computer, tears up the dot matrix paper, and burns it in the fire of the broken computer. He's trying to destroy all the traces of the restoration ritual.
He briefly warms his hands on the flames, then looks up at Jenny in vamp face. She makes it out of a door at last, and he starts chasing her. She’s sprinting, but he’s just strolling along at a brisk walk, like some kind of nightmare. She trips him with a janitor’s cart, and it looks like she’s going to escape, but then he pulls a Batman in the most awful way, appearing right in front of her on the second floor of the school. He laughs and snaps her neck, not even bothering to bite her.
Giles goes to Buffy’s house. Willow is still there. She gives him the book with the disinvitation ritual, which he plans to use on his apartment next. (Oh hey, so he invited Angel over for tea and research at some point! Dangit, I would’ve loved to have seen that.) Willow tells Giles about what Angelus told Joyce. She seems to be under the impression that because Giles is British and a librarian, the concept of sex is completely alien to him.
(It’s particularly hilarious that the extremely innocent Willow would think she knows more about sex than Giles, who, apart from being a very sexy fuddy-duddy, used to be in some kind of band and had the nickname Ripper). He is mildly affronted, but apart from a dry look, doesn’t challenge this notion. He offers to help Buffy deal with her mom, but Willow helps him realize that would be the single most awkward thing he could ever do, so he leaves instead.
Upstairs, Buffy and Joyce are having The Talk. Pretty much nothing you wouldn’t expect from The Talk. Joyce is particularly upset that Buffy slept with a guy she didn’t even know she was dating, and she’s getting tired of Buffy shutting her out all the time. She’s upset, but the most important thing is how much she loves Buffy. It's among the best Buffy/Joyce scenes of the season.
Giles gets home. There’s a rose on his door. Opera music is playing inside. There are rose petals everywhere and a wine bottle is sitting in a bucket of ice, with a parchment envelope that says “upstairs." Giles no. This is not what you think. He heads upstairs. More roses. When he gets to his bedroom, he finds Jenny’s body on his bed. He drops the wine glasses and his smile slides off his face as shock replaces it.
In the next scene, police are in Giles’s apartment while he stands there looking blankly into space. Before he goes with them to the station, he calls Buffy’s house. Angelus’s voiceover starts up again. He’s watching through the windows as Buffy receives Giles’s call, and he smiles when he sees Buffy’s and Willow’s reactions to the news of Jenny’s murder. Willow is especially distraught—Jenny was her favorite teacher.
Cordelia and Xander come by. Buffy wants to go make sure Giles doesn’t do anything reckless. Her instincts are excellent; Giles is gearing up to rain hell on Angelus, who left him another present: a charcoal portrait of dead Jenny. Just in case he wasn’t already 100% clear who did this.
The kids make it to Giles’s place too late to intercept him. They realize that Giles is heading to kill Angelus, and then Xander says something that makes me want to punch him: “Well, it’s about time somebody did. I’m sorry, but let’s not forget that 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 fiend that murdered his girlfriend, then I say faster, pussycat, kill, kill.” As much as I agree that Buffy probably should have tried to take the offensive before this, Xander does not have the moral high ground. Until Angel lost his soul, Xander’s hatred of him was based entirely on jealousy, and he deserves no prizes for not urging haste in dealing with Angelus. It’s just an incredibly low blow. Jenny’s death is not Buffy’s fault. It’s Angelus’s.
Circumstances are a little too dire for it to be a good time to chew Xander out, though, so the only objection Buffy raises is that if Giles goes up against Angelus, he’s going to die.
Spike is not impressed by Angelus’s actions. For all the bravado he brought with him at the beginning of the season, now he’s really not interested in pissing Buffy off. He’d rather Angelus just kill her and be done with it. Angelus isn’t concerned, but maybe he should be. Giles announces his arrival with a MOLOTOV COCKTAIL, a crossbow bolt, and a flaming baseball bat. He might actually have succeeded in killing Angelus if he hadn’t wound up too much on one of his swings with the bat.
Angelus is about to kill Giles when Buffy shows up, and they start fighting. Buffy has him on the ropes, but flames are spreading in the factory, and Angelus points out that Giles is going to burn to death if she wastes any more time fighting him. She hauls Giles to safety, and he thanks her by yelling at her for interfering. She punches him and tells him he can’t pull crap like this because she needs him.
We get the final lines of Angelus’s voiceover as Giles enters his apartment, removing the crime tape. Days later, presumably, he and Buffy lay flowers on Jenny’s grave. Buffy blames herself for not being able to kill Angelus in time to save Jenny. She thinks she’s ready now. At school, Willow is subbing for Jenny until they get a new computer science teacher (yep, looks like there are no substitutes at Sunnydale High). In voiceover, Buffy says that she can’t keep hoping that she’ll get Angel back. At the same time, Willow knocks the floppy disk containing the translated restoration ritual into a crack between two desks.
Oh boy. “Passion” might be more brutal than “Innocence.” The murder of Jenny Calendar was the real point of no return, not the breaking of the curse. Even if Buffy does get Angel back now, there’s no going back to the status quo from before he lost his soul. Angelus has forever altered the group dynamic by killing Jenny. This kind of stuff is why Angelus is my favorite villain and season two is my favorite season. It's all so personal and intimate, and there are real consequences. Even if he’s taking his sweet time ramping things up with his plans for Buffy, Angelus is still the only villain in the show to deliberately kill an important character. The Master doesn’t count because killing Buffy didn’t stick. Warren doesn’t count because it was only a stray bullet. The First doesn’t count because people only died on its orders, not at its hands. Drusilla is actually the runner up, because of what she does in “Becoming: Part 1.” For the amount of character death in the Buffyverse, I find this really surprising. The world is in peril every season, but this is the only season that has such personal collateral damage outside of the final arc. Season 6 is probably the closest runner-up on that front.
Considering the level of stalking Angelus does in this episode, I’d say Buffy keeps her cool remarkably well. I also really like how she can look past her own issues with Jenny and get out of the way of her and Giles’s relationship. But her reaction to Xander’s rant in Giles’s apartment is, I think, the beginning of an unfortunate pattern with her that will never go away. She shoulders the guilt from everything the villain has done, even though it isn't her fault, and she takes the criticism from her friends without really fighting back. A lot of what Xander said was deeply uncalled for, but she just takes it and says he’s right. It’s a little bit painful to watch. Her burden is heavy enough without the people she cares about telling her she’s doing a terrible job.
Xander’s rant is a perfect example of where it would’ve been really helpful if everyone hadn’t just forgotten Jesse ever existed. I would’ve been much less angry if the focus of his rant had been that he was able to stake his best friend just a day after he became a vampire, so why’s it taking Buffy over a month to deal with the guy she’s known for less than a year? It still wouldn’t be completely fair (especially because Xander really only staked Jesse by accident), but it would be much better. Instead, the focus of his rant was that his completely unjustified hatred of Angel makes him morally superior to the rest of the Scoobies now that they’re dealing with Angelus. Just shut up, Xander.
Cordelia doesn’t really get much to do outside of being ditsy. Why would she think the invitation rule applies to cars? *facepalm* And why would the other characters not explain that it’s only about residences? Oh well. This might be the most consistently pleasant she’s been in the group, though.
We get the first hints in this episode that Willow has an interest in teaching. This will manifest as a lot of peer tutoring in S3, but why does Snyder think a high school junior has time to teach several periods of computer science? How the heck is she going to be attending her own classes? This is also, unfortunately, the first time we really see how close she was to Jenny. I think her reaction to Jenny’s death would have benefited from a few scenes earlier in the season with just the two of them. It wouldn’t even have needed to be full scenes—just if they entered a Scooby meeting together or if she could often be found in Jenny’s computer lab.
Giles warns Buffy early not to let Angelus get to her, and then he’s the one who completely loses his head. I don’t think we’ve ever seen as much of his Ripper side as when he attacks the factory, including when he beat Ethan up for information in “Halloween.” Ripper Giles is AWESOME, but the price for bringing him out is rather high. He’s never going to have this meaningful of a romantic relationship again in the entire series run. Losing Jenny in such a horrible way at this juncture obviously did a lot of lasting damage.
Here’s the full text of Angelus’s voiceover:
Passion…it lies in all of us. Sleeping. Waiting. And though unwanted, unbidden, it will stir, open its jaws, and howl. It speaks to us, guides us. Passion rules us all, and we obey. What other choice do we have? Passion is the source of our finest moments: the joy of love, the clarity of hatred, and the ecstasy of grief. 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.
What’s interesting about this monologue is that Angelus isn’t the one who’s acting on passion. He’s very calm, cold-blooded, and calculated about everything he does here. Maybe passion is the reason he’s doing all this, but he’s detached from it, or we’d be seeing more emotion on his face. So is this speech a hint of what’s going on inside him as he wrestles with the fragments of Angel’s feelings for Buffy, which are still consuming him? Or is it more about Giles, whose passion drives him to a suicide mission. Is it about Buffy, whose passion is stopping her from performing her Slayer duty? (All of the above, probably.)
“Since Angel lost his soul, he’s regained his sense of whimsy.”
The Watcher's Diary
In this blog, I'll be reviewing, analyzing, and generally fangirling over excellent television. Exhibit A: the Whedonverse.