Buffy 1×07: Angel

[Review by Mike Marinaro]

[Writer: David Greenwalt | Director: Scott Brazil | Aired: 04/14/1997]

Now this is refreshing! What we have here is a rare Season 1 episode that reaches beyond the now. This actually feels like an early Season 2 episode that is saddled with Season 1’s spotty production values. “Angel” is simply bursting with romantic excitement and nascent sexuality, so much so that I can feel it come to life through Sarah Michelle Gellar’s understated, yet potent, performance as a teenager experiencing the pangs of first love. This is one of the few Season 1 episodes that I consistently felt — despite not being able to personally relate to it, mind you — and it also serves as an excellent setup to Season 2’s focus on adolescent romance and moral complexity.

One of the more successful recurring elements of Season 1 so far has been the growing romantic tension between Buffy and Angel. Buffy verbalizes how powerful her feelings are to Willow: “When he is around… it’s like the lights dim everywhere else.” As their relationship continues to evolve, though, several road blocks – both direct and indirect — do as well. The Three — the lame group the Master summons to take Buffy out — serve their purpose in swiftly getting Angel into Buffy’s house, thus freeing up the whole episode to explore Angel’s background and his connection to Buffy. Once inside, the mutual attraction between these two (and the actors’ chemistry) is quite palpable. The dangerous side of this attraction is expressed through the look on Joyce’s face (“uh huh…”) when she sees her daughter hanging out with this attractive older guy; thus begins the tangled dance of young romance, risky decisions, and the associated fallout of it all. Again, this is a beat Season 2 will dance to all night long.

Early in Buffy’s room, after sneaking Angel upstairs with her, Gellar acts the hell out the moment; you can feel her excitement, but also the innocence in her eyes. This excitement builds when that unfiltered giddiness at sleeping right next to a very polite Angel is shared with her friends the next day. Willow swoons over Buffy’s tale by transposing her own feelings for Xander over it. Meanwhile, Xander reacts as we’d expect: not pleased in the slightest with what he sees as his strong competition for Buffy’s affections.

All of this build-up comes to a head during one of the best ‘first kiss’ scenes I’ve ever seen. Rather than feeling like a generic television kiss, it instead ends up being quite memorable. It’s so good partially because the show has earned the moment by subtly building its foundation in the prior three episodes. The other reason is the fabulous acting from Gellar, who runs the gamut of Buffy’s emotions within a very short time period. This is precisely why the reveal that Angel is a vampire — during the kiss — still works even though I know ten times over that it’s going to happen. Angel’s reveal is a great example of the difference between a cheap one-off shock and an earned character-based shock. This quality will become a staple of Buffy, and it’s wonderful to see the show beginning to figure out how to execute something like this correctly.

Angel being revealed as a vampire has huge implications for the whole show. Buffy asks Giles a loaded question: “can a vampire ever be a good person?” Giles gives her a very one-dimensional answer that – while not entirely false – belies the whole truth. It’s not that I think Giles is lying, or hiding the truth from a delicate Buffy, but rather that he’s simply misinformed and tainted by the very simplistic view the Watchers’ Council holds — even putting aside the whole soul issue. The landscape is a lot more complex than the Watchers’ Council wants its watchers and slayers to be thinking.

Remember how Giles instructs Buffy to slay in “Never Kill a Boy on the First Date” [1×05]? He tells her, “I’m not saying that your methods are without merit, it’s, uh, you’re spending too much time and energy. It should simply be: plunge, and move on.” Spike, Drusilla, Angelus, Wishverse Willow, Holden Webster, and many other vampires will spark a lot of debate and interpretation over the nature of the vampire, soullessness, and personhood in the seasons to come, which will make for quite an exciting ride. Right here, though, Angel is the very first kink in the gears towards what we thought was the show’s take on demonic nature. Maybe this wasn’t the show’s perspective as much as it was the Council’s perspective, filtered through Giles. You can bet that I’ll be revisiting this topic when we get to Season 2!

Everything comes to a head when Buffy heads out to kill Angel after she thinks he attacked her mom. Buffy gets the edge on him, but decides to spare him and simply asks “Why? Why didn’t you just attack me when you had the chance? Was it a joke? To make me feel for you and then…” Angel explains the curse, and Buffy clearly feels he’s being genuine. The fact that Buffy’s willing to risk being bitten to confirm Angel’s story not only builds a layer of trust between them, but it also speaks volumes to both her instincts and the depth of her feelings for him. It also speaks to her ability to offer someone with a troubled past an opportunity for forgiveness and redemption – an ability that will lead to some personal pain, but also big rewards down the line. Admittedly, I can’t help but think she digs the mystery surrounding Angel too.

While “Angel” is definitely focused on Buffy, it doesn’t shy away from shedding more detail on Angel himself. A lot of this information is exposition-y and not all that interesting when one already knows the details, but seeing the world from Angel’s perspective was needed. We can see that while Buffy’s trying to balance slaying, school, and romance, Angel’s juggling his demonic nature, desire for amends, and becoming romantically invested in someone for likely the very first time in his soul-having existence. Right now the thing both Buffy and Angel have in common is their mutual attraction and newfound investment in each other. As their relationship evolves, it’ll end up in a much more aware and mature place in which Buffy comes to understand and help Angel through some of his core struggles. Of course the moment Angel finally starts understand who he is and begins to believe in his own potential, it becomes strikingly obvious that he no longer belongs in Buffy’s world, which goes to show that these two were never compatible, as people, in the first place – romance blinded them. Before we can reach that point of reflection (in Season 3), though, reality is going to come crashing down on them (in Season 2).

Although the central plot of “Angel” is certainly intriguing enough, there are also some nice subtleties that shouldn’t be overlooked. For one, there’s that super fun training sequence between Buffy and Giles. Beyond just being awesome, it’s also interesting in its point that becoming “proficient with the basic tools of combat” is trivial compared to becoming proficient with the basic tools of life, which is something that all of the characters will have to confront in the years ahead of them.

There’s also this fabulous little scene where, in the hospital, Joyce asks Giles why Buffy struggles with history so much. Giles’ response is as metaphorical as it is literal. He tells Joyce that Buffy “lives very much in the ‘now,’ and history, of course, is very much about the ‘then.'” I really feel this speaks to who Buffy is as a person — someone who always has her own way of getting things done, and has a tendency to subvert what’s expected of her. In light of this trait, Buffy often ends up ditching old or ineffectual methods of getting things done.

Everything builds to the sublime final scene, where Buffy and Angel both admit that their relationship can’t happen, yet they can’t pull themselves away anyway. This unstoppable attraction will only grow between now and “Surprise” [2×13], where the other shoe drops. For now, though, both the viewers and the characters get to enjoy being washed over by this blissfully naïve romanticism, with a tone-setting and aptly titled song, “I’ll Remember You,” playing in the background – a song that alludes to this relationship being a very finite endeavor.

“Angel” is one of the only episodes of Season 1 that puts it all together. While it’s definitely still held back a bit by many of Season 1’s usual suspects (music, effects, direction, etc.), thereby creating a few rough edges, the episode succeeds despite these flaws thanks to an electric Sarah Michelle Gellar and an improving David Boreanaz. The episode also sports a lasting, relevant story that will have character-based and thematic implications for a long time to come. “Angel” gives us an appetizer of the kind of Buffy magic that lies ahead, and I can’t help but kind of love it for that.

 


Minor Pros/Cons (+/-)

+ The Cockroach Fumigation Party!
+ Willow getting all doe-eyed over Xander dancing like a complete freak.
+ The Master’s talk about the importance of family, one of Buffy’s major themes. I enjoy how this can and will apply to the villains as much as the heroes.
+ Xander wanting Buffy to stay at his house while the Three lurk outside.
+ Buffy’s freak-out when she thinks Angel read her diary.
+ The Cordelia dress-double moment. Buffy: “And to think we have problems….”
+ The show’s more complex portrayal of Darla (although it still could be better).
+ Darla looking not all-too happy hearing Buffy swoon over kissing Angel, which makes sense based on what we will learn later.
+ Darla toying with Joyce, and Buffy freaking out over seeing her mom injured on the ground, which turns out to actually be mildly creepy due to the fact that Buffy will much later (Season 5) find her mom dead on the couch. Also, Darla is a lot scarier in retrospect thanks to her Season 2 stint on Angel.
+ The awesome beat where a moment of silence is followed by Buffy throwing Angel our of her living room window.
+ Buffy shooting a stake at a “Smoking Sucks” poster. Haha! And doesn’t the crossbow being her special weapon seem so quaint in retrospect?
+ Angel’s annoyance at Darla pestering him. When he says “I want it finished,” I almost assume he’s talking to her.

– The Three are lame, come out of nowhere, and quickly go away.
– The Master seems to have fond memories of Angelus, which is incompatible with what we find out about their history in Angel‘s “Darla” .
– Xander and Willow conveniently show up at Buffy’s back porch the moment after she finds her injured mom. There was absolutely no reason for them to be there other than plot convenience.
– Buffy saying that she let Angel into her home after she knew what he was. Wait: huh?
– Darla with dual pistols: fun. Darla with dual pistols that she never has to reload: not fun.


Foreshadowing

* When Buffy kisses Angel, his vampirism is revealed for the first time. This is a rather ominous warning of the future. When Buffy sleeps with Angel in “Surprise” [2×13], he will lose his soul. (Thanks to Ryan ONeil and Iguana for pointing this out.)
* Not being able to kill Angel here hints to us that she’ll also be unable to kill him in “Innocence” [2×14], despite it being within her means both times.
* The song at the end, “I’ll Remember You,” shares a title with the Angel Season 1 episode “I Will Remember You” . In the former, we get hints at the eventual end of their relationship right as it begins, while in the latter we get a forgotten (for Buffy, that is) last hurrah that puts the nail in the coffin.


[Score]

90/100

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64 thoughts on “Buffy 1×07: Angel”

  1. [Note: Angelus posted this comment on August 14, 2006.]

    I was watching this epi the other night and when the gang was in the hospital visiting Joyce, Buffy said something that didnt make sence.

    Xander: you were lucky.

    Buffy:no..I was dumb. I invited him into my home even after I knew what he was.

    ..or something like that.

    As far as I can tell..she didnt know what he was when they were running from the 3 and she let him in (and even then he didnt really get an invite. I think she said COME ON! as they were entering the house but its hard to tell). Anyone else catch this?

    Other than that..great episode.

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  2. [Note: -x posted this comment on June 21, 2007.]

    Yeahhh that confuses me. i was watching this episode about 3 or 4 days ago( cos i have chicken pox) and yeahh i noticed. COMPLETLY CONFUSING!

    but over all i love this eipsode cos its the BIG spin off of the Bangel love. its ment to be!.

    Love them together. and love the chem.
    Ohhhh and i gota laugh at Xander. hizz such a cutie, the big crushh izz cute.

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  3. [Note: dru-dzilla posted this comment on June 28, 2007.]

    I totally caught that too. I was watching it a couple weeks ago (cuz I have the box set) and thought it was strange she’d say that.

    i love her with Angel, such a perfect match.

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  4. [Note: Danielle posted this comment on July 12, 2007.]

    i thought it was weird that buffy would say ‘i invited him into my home even after i knew what he was who he was and i didnt do anything about it’. She didnt know he was a vampire when she first invited him into her home , but still it was kinda romantic the way they both delt with it so calmly at the end of the episode.

    i thought it was weird that buffy would say ‘i invited him into my home even after i knew what he was who he was and i didnt do anything about it’. She didnt know he was a vampire when she first invited him into her home , but still it was kinda romantic the way they both delt with it so calmly at the end of the episode.

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  5. [Note: buffyholic posted this comment on October 4, 2007.]

    This is a great episode. Another one of my favourites. The chemistry between Buffy and Angel is awesome, you can really feel the heat between the two. I love Darla, she and Angel are great together. Willow is still very cute. Her speech of death scales in a vampire is a hoot. Also, her little training session is very amusing.

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  6. [Note: Emma posted this comment on January 20, 2008.]

    I really liked this episode but the gun thing annoyed me, just because vampires never try using guns on Buffy after this, and that would def be the easiest way to kill her. Good fight though.

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  7. [Note: Nix posted this comment on January 20, 2008.]

    Vampires don’t try using guns on Buffy, but humans do (with very near success).

    (But yes, that is a hole: you’d think one of the more with-it vamps, like Mr. Trick, would have tried: and Faith is definitely with-it, so why she also sticks to traditional nothing-newer-than-1750 Slayer weapons I have no idea.)

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  8. [Note: D posted this comment on August 7, 2008.]

    With the simple fact that Buffy did NOT actually invite Angel in and what was mention before about her stating even though she knew what he was, this episode is very uneven definitely does NOT deserve an A-. It’s a “D” episode!

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  9. [Note: buf posted this comment on September 5, 2008.]

    buffy says she invited him, and after she knew what he was she didnt do anything about it. two seperate thoughts

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  10. [Note: Emily posted this comment on February 1, 2009.]

    Ok- a few things to clear up. One- I also thought Buffy didn’t invite Angel in, but when I rewinded, I heard her say, “Come on, get in!” Two- In the hospital, she meant to say that she let him in and didn’t do anything about uninviting him after she found out what he was.

    Furthermore, I think Darla’s use of guns was Joss’s way of showing how desperate she was to kill Buffy and gain the Master’s approval. And Nix, I don’t think it would be fair to use guns in this show because that’s not what the show is about. I think the two instances I remember with guns besides for this one is Warren, when he killed Tara and injured Buffy, and Jonathan, when he tried to kill himself. Those two make sense, one because Jonathan was trying to commit suicide, and Warren is more like a “modern” bad guy as opposed to other big bads, like vampires and Glory and The First. And even with being modern, he waits till the end of the season to use a gun.

    I also wanted to say that I love this episode- it was done extremely well, David’s acting was unbelievable ( I wanted to cry for him when he asked Buffy if she knew what it was like to have done the things he did and to care), Sarah was also amazing, and the plot was awesome. I like how Angel’s history is told. I’d give it a perfect score.

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  11. [Note: jarppu posted this comment on February 1, 2009.]

    The direct quote of Buffy talking about inviting Angel is: “No? I invited him into my home. Even after I knew who he was, what he was, and I didn’t do anything about it… ’cause I had feelings for him, because I cared about him.”

    So she definitely says she invited him before she knew he was a vampire. Nevermind what she meant to say, it’s still a goof.

    I used to like this episode, but on repeated viewings I noticed so many goofs and inconsistencies that it is hard to even watch this episode anymore because the episode simply doesn’t make any sense.

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  12. [Note: Sam posted this comment on October 29, 2009.]

    I love, love, love this episode. It’s the best of S1 and it’s on my Top 25 Buffy episodes. In fact, the writing and production values are not at all indicative of the weaknesses from the season–the only typical S1 flaw is the cheesy blast of music when Angel jumps out Buffy’s window after his vampiric nature is discovered. All the relationships are beautifully diagrammed here, and it also contains Buffy’s first “oh snap” diss at the end. It’s a real beauty–

    DARLA: Do you know what the saddest thing in the world is?

    BUFFY: Bad hair on top of that outfit?

    That gets me laughing every single time. Cheers, David Greenwalt, to the first A-grade episode of the series!

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  13. [Note: John Roberts posted this comment on September 17, 2010.]

    It was bizarre that Darla had guns, bizarre that she shoots so badly, and bizarre that the vamps never raid a gun store, collect some Terminator weapons, and take down Buffy American style. Even allowing that the vamps are tradition bound and stupid, that’s peculiar.

    But whatever … it’s a vampire show, suspension of disbelief begins with the opening credits.

    Excellent episode of course, although I must confess that while I had previously thought that Angel/Buffy was the strongest material in the first couple of seasons, I liked School Hard even more than this episode. Angel feels too Twilighty; I think I’m going to become a Spuffy man.

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  14. [Note: Michael Carruthers posted this comment on September 17, 2010.]

    Wow. 90 for this episode? I’d say a 78 and that’s being generous 😉 It’s the first big “reveal” of the show, Darla is great here and the setting up of the fireworks for the Buffy/Angel relationship is very well-done, their chemistry is really starting to heat up with this episode.

    Flaw-wise, The Three were pretty silly and unnecessary, and the episode didn’t move at quite the right pace, I felt. While Darla’s attack on Joyce was creepy, the subsequent scene where Buffy blames Angel and throws him through the window didn’t quite feel right…especially when she decides to kill him only a scene later in the hospital. Why wouldn’t she have just done it initially? You could say that her feelings were too strong at that time and she had to have some time to reflect on the situation, but to me it felt more like the writers biding time till the conclusion.

    While I certainly don’t view this episode as the classic many fans do, it’s surely a step up from most season 1 episodes up until this point (WTTH and Witch except).

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  15. [Note: Ambiepooch posted this comment on September 20, 2010.]

    Hey great site!! I have an issue tho, if The Master NEEDS Buffy to free his as is noted in the prophecy why oh why does he send the guys to kill her?? Surely that would stop him being able to walk the earth? He should be sending her vitamins etc to keep her good and health.

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  16. [Note: Elizabeth posted this comment on November 16, 2010.]

    Did anyone else notice that when The Three were chasing them into Buffy’s house, one of them reached inside while Buffy tried to slam the door on him? He shouldn’t have been able to cross the threshold…

    That said, I love love love this episode. The scene at the end is one of my favorite scenes between Buffy and Angel.

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  17. [Note: MikeJer posted this comment on November 24, 2010.]

    ADMIN NOTE: This episode review has been completely rewritten. In light of this, references to the old review have been edited out of the the above comments.

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  18. [Note: Dimitri posted this comment on November 24, 2010.]

    Awesome episode and great review!

    I love the part at the Bronze where Darla and Buffy are fighting, the flashing lights make it look so cool.

    And I love Joyce’s comment: They said it was probably a barbecue fork.. We don’t have a barbecue fork.’

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  19. [Note: MikeJer posted this comment on November 24, 2010.]

    @Flipper: I don’t want anyone seeing my old S1 reviews anymore. They’re just too bad, even for history’s sake. So I’m afraid the answer is no. 🙂

    Like

  20. [Note: Sam L posted this comment on November 24, 2010.]

    Awesome job, Mike!!! I’m glad to see your re-reviews keep coming, and I’m super elated that “Angel” survived your S1 pass, because in spite of its dated trappings, it still is an awesome episode.

    Thank you for all your hard work, and Happy Thanksgiving!!!

    Like

  21. [Note: Nathan.Taurus posted this comment on November 27, 2010.]

    -Buffy saying that she let Angel into her home after she knew what he was. Wait: huh?

    Thankyou for adding that dialogue to the cons list.

    This episode was a nice one that unfortunatley has Darla in it firing about five clips from the same handgun. Buffy also touches Angel without his shirt on and doesn’t feel the cool skin.

    I did like Xander’s reaction to Angel in Buffy’s room. And Buffy responding to thinking Angel read her diary.

    A good episode, but not my favourite of Season 1. Still some issues.

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  22. [Note: JohnnyW posted this comment on January 4, 2011.]

    Meh. Some attempts at doing something bigger, but the drama is still stale, and the execution hackneyed and predictable. After the “big reveal”, what’s left is just a by-the-numbers cliché of misunderstanding. The show has yet to even start its engines at this point.

    You’re way over-valuing this episode, in my opinion.

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  23. [Note: JohnnyW posted this comment on January 4, 2011.]

    @Elizabeth, Actually they added a very small bit dialogue that’s barely audible. Buffy says something like, “Quick, come on in!”.

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  24. [Note: CoyoteBuffyFan posted this comment on February 5, 2011.]

    This is a great episode. Tyipcal of Buffy’s luck with men, just as she realizes that she is falling for Angel, she finds out he is a vampire. And she realizes that she may have to kill him…after all, that’s what she does.

    I love that Buffy’s mother questions Giles presence at the hospital. I stated this before but I love how there are certain points in the series where Buffy has to try to explain to people why she hangs out with the school librarian so much (even more so after they graduate HS).

    My only complaint is that Darla went down way too easily in this episode. She could have been a good threat for the rest of the season. She is scarier than the Master anyway.

    David Boreanaz is still very sexy now but he was stupid hot in his youth. He makes me melt in this episode.

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  25. [Note: CoyoteBuffyFan posted this comment on February 5, 2011.]

    I’d also like to note that I’ve liked just about all of the romances in the show (not just Buffy’s), but I have never really felt the spark between two characters like I do between Buffy and Angel. I really feel like they love each other.

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  26. [Note: Paul B posted this comment on April 15, 2011.]

    Here’s one more thing that bothers me about this episode: why does Angel fight Buffy? Why does he even say he wanted to kill her? Was he too cool to simply say “sorry it was a misunderstanding I didn’t bite your mother”? (He only says it after the fight.) Buffy probably wouldn’t have believed it, but still… Did Angel think “I love her but if I explain she won’t believe me so I’ll just kill her”???

    The answer is probably just that the writers wanted to have the fight scene at this point…

    Btw, I get that Buffy wanted to fight Angel at this point. Buffy’s doubts and decision were portrayed well.

    There are lots of good things about this episode (as mentioned in the review), but also a few flaws and weaknesses… I would give it a B.

    Like

  27. [Note: Gemma posted this comment on December 9, 2011.]

    Prior to this episode Angel belonged to the shadows, appearing every so often to lend a helping hand by the means of cryptic warnings. This episode served as a catalyst for two things; introducing Angel fully to the audience and to Buffy and solidifying the previously planted seeds of the romance to come with our heroine and this ‘no ordinary vampire’ as Giles puts it.

    This episode is very clever when it came to exploring Angel and his personality, the explanation surrounding the curse was an interesting way to go. Looking retrospectively it must be pointed out that this character development is promising for future episodes, something which Joss utilised in later episodes, ie Surprise and onwards.

    The principle behind the curse allows us to feel for Angel, a human having to live with the mind of a demon, not only this but Angel having been inflicted with the curse isn’t the same animal/monster responsible for the deeds he is paying for. Allowing us to be sympathetic towards him.

    The scenes Angel has with Darla were also conducive showing us that vampires could be entertaining and cohesive. Until this episode vampires with the exception to The Master vampires have appeared dumb or mindless. Darla reminiscing with Angel allows for future story and manifests what vampires are capable of.

    A little touch i like about this episode is the burn mark Angel suffers from the cross around Buffy’s neck is a poignant moment to show the problems their relationship will face. WIllow too points out the practical side of the pairs relationship, with Angel never getting any older. The practical side is one of the most prominent developments regarding Buffy and Angel’s relationship which ultimately leads to them breaking up at the end of season three.

    The concept of The Three being powerful warriors but quickly disappear is a little lacking also the moment Buffy returns and finds Angel holding her mother in the kitchen should have been enough for her to be instantly against him. It is suggestible in this scene that Angel’s ploy was to trick Buffy and that his intentions were to kill her.

    The bottom line though is that i liked this episode, it isn’t my favourite because i still think David is a little wooden when it comes to acting some of his scenes but he does get better come season two. The personality of a vampire and whether they are blatantly good or evil is unknown at the point this episode ends and serves as an interesting prospect for the internal tapestry of the show.

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  28. [Note: smallprint84 posted this comment on August 6, 2012.]

    This beautiful song has a connection I think with the upcoming Angel ep. “I Will Remember You”.

    The lyrics give the right setting how Angel & Buffy are feeling in that ep.

    Lyrics Sophie Zelmani – I’ll Remember You (Buffy S1 “Angel” [1×7]:

    It’s daybreak

    And you are asleep

    I can hear you breathe now

    Your breath is deep

    But before I go

    I look at you one last time

    I can hear a heartbeat

    Is it yours or is it mine?

    I look at your lips

    I know how soft they can be

    Did they know what they wanted

    The times they kissed me?

    And your hands

    That I held in mine

    Now they’re reposing on the pillow

    Will they ever miss me sometime?

    I’ll remember you

    You will be there in my heart

    I’ll remember you

    And that is all that I can do

    But I’ll remember

    Your eyes

    That always make me shiver

    Now they are closed

    They just sometimes twitch a little

    And your body

    I could hold for an hour

    It sent me to Heaven

    With its heat and power

    I’ll remember you

    You will be there in my heart

    I’ll remember you

    And that is all that I can do

    But I’ll remember

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  29. [Note: Jen posted this comment on October 30, 2012.]

    I’ve always wondered why Buffy and Angel’s first kiss brings out Angel’s vamp face. No one else seems to mention it, so there must be a simple explanation I’m missing, but I would appreciate some enlightenment…

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  30. [Note: Iguana-on-a-stick posted this comment on October 31, 2012.]

    For a meta-explanation; I think it was because this episode is trying to play up the proto-twilight angle. The whole star-crossed vampire-loves-slayer thing. How better to demonstrate that than by making it visible and tangible? Then later they abandoned this line of storytelling because it was melodramatic tripe.For an in-universe explanation I’d argue that Angel’s stalking/courting of Buffy in the early seasons (Remember that time when he was spying on her from the car with Whistler while she was barely fifteen yet…) is closely linked to the way he used to stalk and hunt girls to play his mindgames with and to destroy them when he was soulless Angelus. Sure, he wants Buffy to save him instead of wanting to destroy her, but the methods may well be the same. (I only now realise that all his cryptic statements and sudden disappearances throughout this season may also be like the mind-games he used to play that drove Drusilla insane. Again, opposite goals but similar methods because it’s the only thing he knows.)So I think his infatuation with Buffy is strongly linked to his vampire hunting-instincts. Instead of going in for the final kill he’s kissing her this time… but it still brings out his vampire-face.

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  31. [Note: Ryan ONeil posted this comment on October 31, 2012.]

    Also, he could be feeling less-than-perfect, “acceptable” happiness for the first time in decades. Foreshadowing?

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  32. [Note: Iguana-on-a-stick posted this comment on October 31, 2012.]

    I’m not sure about that as an in-universe explanation, but as a meta-textual Doylist explanation it is pretty brilliant. In fact, Mike, might that not be one for the foreshadowing box? The first time Buffy kisses him is the first time we see him in vamp-face, the first time we learn of his true nature. The first time she sleeps with him he completes the transformation and becomes a monster in nature as well as in appearance. In retrospect this is a rather ominous warning.

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  33. [Note: Jen posted this comment on October 31, 2012.]

    Many thanks for the suggestions, Iguana. I was having problems getting past the simple explanation that the writers wanted a quick way of showing Buffy Angel’s identity without having him kill anyone. But I am almost convinced by your suggestions, both intra and extra-Buffyverse.

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  34. [Note: Alex posted this comment on November 1, 2012.]

    I love that foreshadow-y explanation, Ryan!My interpretation was always pretty mundane; I just figured that he was hungry! Even with a soul, the smell of human blood must be pretty tempting, and actually having his lips touching human flesh… I figured that it was a sort of instinctive reaction, going into ‘attack mode’ to prepare to drink from someone.And perhaps I’ve been watching too much True Blood, but you know how in that the vampires always pop out their fangs when they get turned on? I thought there was a bit of that thrown in there too. I know that sex and biting aren’t so closely linked in the Buffyverse as they are in True Blood, but I can still think of plenty of occasions on Buffy where blood-drinking is shown to be quite erotic. Angel’s kissing Buffy, he forgets himself, gets carried away, and next thing he knows, he’s accidentally vamped out.

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  35. [Note: fray-adjacent posted this comment on November 1, 2012.]

    That was always how I interpreted it. I like that as an in-universe explanation, and Ryan’s as a Doylist explanation. 🙂

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  36. [Note: Ryan ONeil posted this comment on November 2, 2012.]

    Thanks everyone, but now that I’ve read your in-universe one, I think I like better than “curse almost kicking in”

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  37. [Note: TheShanshuProphecy posted this comment on November 2, 2012.]

    Don’t forget that (for Angel) this is the first human contact he has had in a long, long time (either secully or food-wise) – and he really has the hots for Buffy at this point – as Buffy herself says “sex and pain and love and death – it’s all the same to you vampires” (i’m paraphrasing, not quoting). Short version – Angel is overwhelmed with a bunch of emotions.

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  38. [Note: Joy posted this comment on October 17, 2013.]

    Thank you for these wonderful reviews. I’m enjoying all of them so much!

    There’s an odd word choice in your Minor Pros/Cons list, second bullet:

    I think the word you were aiming for was “doe-eyed”, as in female deer, not “doughy-eyed”, like raw bread dough.

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  39. [Note: Nebula Nox posted this comment on December 12, 2013.]

    Re guns the Initiative uses them, or at least gunlike weapons. And Spike takes a shotgun to kill Buffy in Fool For Love, but then he changes his mind when he sees her crying.

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  40. [Note: Callie posted this comment on January 19, 2014.]

    I get why this is a big episode for Buffy, but I simply can’t like it. This was the first episode that, while watching in canonical order, actually caused me to cringe. David’s acting here is nowhere near strong enough to hold up this important of an episode and Julie is just ridiculous.

    Also, I personally have to take away major points for the fact that practically every major reveal in this episode was retconned in later seasons. Really, this is the only episode I can think of that has caused multiple alterations in later episodes.

    Then again, my dislike could be because I never much cared for the Buffy/Angel relationship.

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  41. [Note: Monica posted this comment on January 19, 2014.]

    Julie? Really? David Boreanaz I wholeheartedly understand, but I’ve never seen or thought there could even be any criticism directed at Julie Benz…

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  42. [Note: Iguana-on-a-stick posted this comment on January 19, 2014.]

    Julie Benz is a good actress and she’s great in the role of Darla… from season 2 onwards, and particularly on “Angel” the series.

    Here in early Buffy… her character is plain uninteresting, flat and a stereotypical evil seductress type. I blame the writing, not the actress, but either way I’m not a fan of her performance here.

    When they brought her character back on “Angel” I definitely sighed. But of course, I was quickly proven wrong. Both actress and character were excellent there.

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  43. [Note: Callie posted this comment on January 19, 2014.]

    Caught in the middle of typing. This is pretty much exactly what I was going to say (although my roommate would disagree and say Darla never became interesting; to each their own).

    One more thing that really bugs me about this episode and about Darla’s part in it was Angel’s lack of reaction when he kills Darla. There is no way I can have sympathy for the character when the vampire she sired can kill her off with no feeling whatsoever–no anger, no pain–nothing…

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  44. [Note: telephoto1 posted this comment on March 7, 2014.]

    Regarding Darla… here is a huge problem I have. She is dusted here…Gone. Dead. Not killed magically, just a plain old staking. In the Buffyverse no vamp comes back from that (unless you die “magically” like Spike did at the end of BTVS resulting in being resurrected in AtS). So Darla coming back in AtS (though I really liked her storyline there) is totally implausible and a major plot hole between the two shows in my view.

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  45. [Note: Kyle posted this comment on March 7, 2014.]

    I don’t see it as implausible at all. No rules about resurrection were ever brought up before this time, and even afterwards it was still a little vague. In my opinion, a vampire death is supernatural as the vampire that dies is a supernatural being. Anyway, the mythical rules of the buffyverse are always going to be vague because those rules are used to service the characters and themes, which then leads to me disagreeing with your claim that if this is a problem, it’s a major one.

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  46. [Note: Seele posted this comment on March 7, 2014.]

    Plus, the lengths that W&H had to go to bring her back were so ridiculous that I don’t think of it as a “Death is Cheap” cop-out.

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  47. [Note: Pathbeyondthedark posted this comment on March 22, 2015.]

    In a twist of sorts, I’m going to comment on my favorite episode of Season 1 and just about only one I actually thoroughly enjoy (although I can admit “Prophecy Girl” and “Never Kill a Boy on the First Date” are decent ones as well). In quite fitting fashion, it comes just before my take on the inevitable “climax” at the end of “Surprise” that this episode for all intents and purposes first introduced and foreshadowed. In short, this is the first episode that introduces points of emphasis that will continue to circulate and even elevate as the series unfolds, not just on Btvs but also on Ats.

    Angel is a vampire. What the… fudge? Okay, so it wasn’t that unforeseeable, but still what a huge wrench to throw into what had been a straightforward “Good vs. Evil” series up until this point. It’s such a huge wrench in fact, that it completely turns established beliefs completely on its side. Rather then gradually ease the audience into the possibility of ambiguity, it just throws this into our faces and nails us over the head with it. However, this is one of the few instances I’ll say it was an ingenious way to introduce the concept. Twists and turns are often mishandled, subtlety is usually best, but this a rare occasion where I believe this was exactly what was needed. The audience needed to be bluntly charged at with the idea that things aren’t always so cut and dry. Although subsequent episodes wouldn’t capitalize on the potential, it’s the first instance of “this show will not hold back” even if it’s not all that shocking right now.

    The episode foreshadows the heavily thematic events of Season 2, however it is at its core about Angel. The review does a brilliant job of elaborating on the former, so I’ll comment on what this means for Angel himself and why his arc from here on out, all the way through his time in L.A., can resonate if perceived a certain way.

    I believe everyone has their demons. I believe everyone has their vices. Some vices are more tolerable then others. Some are more ambiguous, while others are undeniably immoral. Yet, they exist and we must live with them. We are tasked to not only face them but also control them when necessary. We control our “urges” when they are inappropriate, like not speaking when being spoken to or not bashing your boss over the head with something heavy when they’re being irrational (not that I’ve ever wanted to…).

    Angels dilemma is an extreme example of the kinds of innate “urges” some have that can lead to undesired consequences, some so horrific that they can’t be tolerated. He is tasked with controlling his “urges” for the rest of time to atone for what he’s done in the past. It’s difficult for most to relate. However, try not to think about it as such an extreme. Think about moments like I described above. Haven’t you lashed out at someone who’s speaking but said something you disagreed with? Haven’t you wanted to walk out on a job after being scolded for something “maybe” you feel like wasn’t deserved? Those are the ways you can relate, and that’s how his arc can resonate if you just allow yourself to understand what it means to find it difficult to exert self control.

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  48. [Note: Jewel posted this comment on August 26, 2015.]

    Great review! You really seem to go all out for the standout episodes. Now that being said, I probably wouldn’t mark it so high despite liking it second best out of S1, simply because of all the contrivances and holes in the plot.
    I would elaborate but one good thing about coming into the comments so late in the game is I get to be lazy and just say someone else has beat me to it. 😉

    But why do I like ‘Angel?’ Of course its long-term relevance can’t be denied; but also, at this point, I enjoy basking in the Buffy/Angel goodness. My favorite scene is the last one. Even though Buffy’s cross — the cross he gave her, no less — is searing his flesh, he refuses to break their kiss. Seeing that mark on his skin and all it symbolizes — not the least of which how he will continue to have affection for Buffy no matter cost to him — sends tingles down my spine every time.

    Like

  49. [Note: Sindy posted this comment on February 8, 2016.]

    I think Buffy seasons 1-3 were the only seasons that were truly worth watching, because ever since the show, with its staff was split in two, Buffy the show was no longer the same. I think that Joss Wheadon got too greedy and ambitious and should’ve left the whole cast and crew intact so Buffy wouldn’t have lost its quality or have been cancelled so quickly. I hate with intensity how the only reason Buffy and Angel (in my opinion) were made to split up was so them being in two shows would make sense. The majority of season 4 lacked the excitement of previous seasons where I actually admired the characters, starting in season 4 everyone screwed up tremendously, and they acted like losers…why would I find inspiration in that? Meaning…everyone I felt had an important part, despite their lack of extra human Buffy abilities. However, it’s as if no one could get anything right Buffy f***d up and after spending such a long time with Angels f***s the first dumbass that crosses her path….why oh why???? Buffy was supposed to be smarter than that….Willow becomes a lesbian????? Terrible…LGBT people can do whatever they want, I just didn’t want it on my show, why couldn’t the writers continue to make Buffy witty and interesting and smart and such an addicting show? Where did things go wrong…that’s what I ask myself all the time…WHY DID BUFFY SUCK AFTER ANGEL LEFT?!
    I saw Angel season 1, and it was interesting, but it’s as if only one show could flourish, Angel did but Buffy didn’t. This is why I figure Sarah Michelle didn’t even wanna continue doing the show- the wit, the magic was gone. Speaking of the other type of magic, some I could tolerate, but after a while it was like since Harry Potter was popular while they filmed they unnecessarily added some lame HP touches, how irritating and unoriginal.
    Anyway, I’ve seen Wheadon say nobody, no audience wanted to see a couple actually together, which is total BS, he and his crew were smart they could’ve made something work or have extended the romance or hardships. Something that I’ve never read anyone comment about is that Buffy supposedly is a strong female figure, but her life was more exciting and the show seemed more meaningful when the writers had a low budget and focused on character development and relationships AND HAD ANGEL A MAN IN THE SHOW. Buffy, Willow, and Xander were actual friends, it was interesting to see them interact and even though it was fiction I completely bought that part of the story, everything was so mysterious and exciting and everything became so mundane and unspiring and uninteresting more notably in season 5- how was it that a main character was randomly inserted outta the blue? Completely dumb and reflective of the show’s crumbling quality.

    But enough complaining I loved buffy seasons 1-3 it’s been one of the most interesting shows I’ve ever watched maybe not all seasons were great but 10+ (season 1 episodes) +22+22 (season 2 and 3) so a total 54 excellent quality episodes should make me happy- it just sucks that no other show has got hooked like Buffy. It was sexy, it was smart, it was ethical, it was interesting, it sucked me right into another place where I felt I was the character and I saved the day, I had the hot boyfriend, the passion and was corresponded, where I had the coolness, the wits, the beauty… it’s beyond a great daydream lol where can I be made to feel like that again?????? Rarely will a show move me like Buffy did, despite my complaining Angel season 1 had some excellentness as well though.

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  50. [Note: Pathbeyondthedark posted this comment on February 8, 2016.]

    You don’t seem to understand the purpose of the series or why seasons 4-7 were mostly necessary. Many would argue Season 5 is it’s finest and others, especially in our forum, would choose Season 6 as their favorite despite its problems. But you’re entitled to your opinion and I respect it nonetheless.

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  51. [Note: Sindy posted this comment on February 8, 2016.]

    Well first thanks for replying, we definitely think differently about some things. Maybe what I said isn’t popular opinion but it’s how I think and honestly feel about it. In short I just couldn’t stand watching the show starting season 5, watching Buffy became like a chore. It did get cancelled by the WB for a purpose around that same time from my point of view. And I vented so much in my comment because I loved and didn’t wanna miss a minute of the show before and it was frustrating how I could be so moved by a Buffy and later feel such indifference toward it. I haven’t finished watching all seasons but again didn’t find the motivation to personally, but I’m curious about what we might agree on… is there anything? And what’d you think of the first seasons and the Buffy/Angel relationship?

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  52. [Note: lostmadslayer posted this comment on April 8, 2016.]

    Spot on Sindy! I couldn’t agree more. I too was sucked in and felt everything you felt. (I was the girl…) Season 1-3 are SO magical. Well, mostly 2-3. It was so magical that Season 4 is really rough for me but oddly enough some of my most favorite episodes come out of there. Pangs, Something Blue and Hush. The only thing that gets me through that season is Spike. That season feels so wrong and so different but in hindsight I think it’s suppose to. It was a new time and a new chapter in their lives and because we were so attached we felt the pain on a personal level and on a level for the love of the show. That’s art at it’s finest. Season 5 was fine. I really have no complaints on it and with Season 4 being so rough it shines, really. I love season 6. It’s dark, raw and painful which I seem to love and after a re-watch I came to love 7 a little more. I can forgive Buffy for her mistakes or the things you complained about with her. We all make them. We all get blinded, we all crack and we all fail and though it took her a while to grow up and understand her calling- she did.

    Turns out I am a sadist for forbidden love. I adore the pairing of Angel and Buffy. Everything about them was so wrong and so right. And the break up was unbearable. These two clearly belong but don’t. Ahhh!! I can’t stand it. I can feel every emotion Sarah puts in that role with David which makes it even harder. I don’t mind that Angel left though. That pairing would have never worked out. We didn’t want to see and neither did Buffy but it was what it was. Doomed. But that pain and joy was needed to grow and learn and to know that you will be able to breath again. I also adore the pairing of her and Spike. Each of them were with her in a different part of her life. Both were needed to help her along her journey and teach her all she came to know. PS I detest Riley.

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