Buffy 2×17: Passion

[Review by Mike Marinaro]

[Writer: Ty King | Director: Michael Gershman | Aired: 02/24/1998]

“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?” – Angelus

Wow. What an episode! “Passion” is a masterful work that effectively ‘seals the deal’ on the changes to the series promised by “Innocence” [2×14]. It expertly uses the setup that came before it and then follows through on it to glorious results. It also marks the first time Buffy really puts on display that none of the characters are safe from being offed, even important ones. “Passion” pulls out all the stops, including a highly tense and unique musical score, sharp directing, and impeccable writing. Although the writing duties are officially credited to Ty King, Joss Whedon’s fingerprints are all over this — I’d be shocked if Whedon didn’t have a heavy influence on this script.

The dark and atmospheric opening scene of “Passion” fabulously sets the tone for what’s to come. Christophe Beck’s score here is some of his best work, what with its thumping beats and crackling thunder. A creepy aura immediately surrounds the episode as Angelus stalks Buffy dancing at the Bronze and continues to leave a trail of bodies behind her. As Angelus’ body count rises, so does the weight on Buffy’s shoulders — both in her decision-making before Angel turned and in her failure to kill him when she had the opportunity to in “Innocence” [2×14].

Buffy unknowingly sums up what has been the biggest problem with her relationship to Angel when she talks to Willow mid-episode: “It’s weird, whenever something like this happens, my biggest instinct is still to run to Angel.” Rather than having confidence in herself and her role as the Slayer to solve the problem, she’s instead holed up in her house desiring Angel to keep her safe. As has been previously brought up, Buffy has given away too much of her identity to Angel, and the result of that has weakened her, putting everyone at risk. Buffy desperately needs to take it back from him, which is where Season 2 is ultimately headed (“Becoming Pt. 2” [2×22]). Willow is also keen in her observation of Angelus: Buffy is “still the only thing he thinks about.” The theme of the last episode — love twisted into obsession — is definitely making its presence felt here in “Passion”, and that’s no more apparent than in that disturbing opening scene.

The focal point of “Passion” is evident in its title, and there are several interesting themes that branch off of this. In his opening voiceover, Angelus suggests that passion “rules us all,” thus implying that we have little choice in the matter. Angelus’ outlook on passion is naturally going to come from a very dark place — he can only view it as an unstoppable force through his obsessive vantage point. And why wouldn’t he see it this way? Angelus is a soulless creative with no conscience whatsoever. This is precisely why we see him make so many disturbed sexual overtures throughout the episode, from getting on top of Buffy in her bed as she sleeps to telling Jenny “this is where you get off” (my emphasis) to subsequently using the dead body of Jenny to orchestrate a tragically faux romantic evening for Giles at his home. Angelus represents the dark, uncontrolled side of passion (and ‘getting off’), but he thankfully isn’t the final say on the topic (more on that later).

For the rest of us it becomes apparent that ‘choice’ must be a vital player in passion. During the impressionable phase of adolescence, in particular, the choices we make can have a huge impact in defining the course of our lives. One of the most important of these choices is who to invite into our lives, and who to exclude from them; another is who to trust, and who to keep a distance from; another is who to start a relationship with, and who to say no to. All of this, of course, relates back to the choices Buffy has made thus far regarding Angel.

Invitation and exclusion are also big themes in “Passion”, and they can be very much felt as Angelus follows Buffy back to her house in that opening scene. When Angelus peers into her bedroom window while she sleeps before creepily rolling out of frame — an extremely effective horror movie technique — it strikes me that what we’re seeing is a dark reflection of Angel during his first appearance in the season: “When She Was Bad” [2×01] (“Mind if I come in?”, Angel asks, sitting at her bedroom window). Now he enters her bedroom without permission or warning and casts a pitch black shadow on top of her while she sleeps, showing “affection” in the most disturbing way possible — an image that might just be the scariest in all of Buffy the Vampire Slayer thanks to its intimate origins.

That opening scene isn’t the only one playing off of this theme — in fact, “Passion” is littered with them. At first it may seem like Cordelia reminding the audience about vampire invitation rules is a bit insulting, but now we know that it’s serving a larger purpose. As Giles rebuts, “yes, but once you’ve invited them in, they’re always welcome.” Isn’t that true about all relationships? Once you’ve invited someone into your life, it can often be very difficult to cast them out, and even when you do that interaction will always be a part of you — it can’t be washed away.

Xander makes a comment about inviting strange men into your bedroom and Cordelia frets that she invited Angel into her car once. Even Jonathan gets in on the action when he enters the library unexpectedly and interrupts the Scooby meeting — they seem almost offended that students entered without warning or permission. It’s a funny moment, because nobody ever seems to be in the library but them, but it also ties into these themes. Other examples include Spike’s frustration with Angelus starting to feel like an intrusive presence in his un-life, Angelus toying with the school’s invitation to all knowledge seekers, Buffy and the Scoobies disregarding the yellow crime tape to enter Giles’ home, Spike preventing Drusilla from attacking Giles unless invited to, etc.

The centerpiece of “Passion” is Angelus’ murder of Jenny Calendar. This is a masterful sequence and a prime example of television at its best. The lighting, framing, music, writing, and performances all come together in a symphony of horror. When Angelus says “the teacher makes three,” it seems like such a toothless threat thanks to weariness gained from countless other shows that never follow through on similar threats. The tension, stakes, and horror in this scene only fully work because Angelus actually goes through with it. This not only provides the scene immortal tension, but it also instructs the viewer to be on notice that the characters we love are not safe here, thus offering a lot of future scenes tension they otherwise would have never had. This is a pivotal moment in the show’s overall growth.

Angelus’ final line to Jenny before he brutally snaps her neck, “this is where you get off,” is conveyed with definite sexual overtones. This is particularly resonant considering where Jenny was headed next — Giles’ home with the possibility of a romantic evening — had she not been killed. It seems the only one getting off on all of this, all season really, is Angelus. As observed in “Phases” [2×15], he’s running wild without conscience or constraint, continuing to highlight the danger of letting passion blind you to its consequences and failing to control your urges, sexually or otherwise.

(Side note: To follow Jenny’s murder with a brief comedic scene is actually incredibly gutsy. It works here because the comedy, per usual on Buffy, is steeped in character, and this little moment between Willow and Giles at Buffy’s house is no exception. It’s also one of the things the series does best: injecting these moments of subtle levity in the most harrowing and heartbreaking of situations. Impressive.)

Doorways, hallways, and windows are prominent symbolic fixtures throughout “Passion”. For examples, think of the opening scene, the Scoobies’ conversation about how to deal with Angelus, Buffy excluding Angel from her home, Drusilla at the magic shop, Jenny’s death scene, the Scoobies at Giles’ place, etc., which all nicely tie back into the themes of invitation and exclusion. When Jenny is trying to flee from Angelus she runs around the halls of Sunnydale High and into all kinds of doors: some locked, some stuck, and some open, but the only open doors and hallways seem to be a pathway leading to death. This is, of course, an allegory for our choices in life, and the choices the characters have made that have led them to this pivotal moment.

Each important decision we make, particularly concerning love, can open and close certain doors to our future. With some decisions, there’s no going back; with others, there’s no getting out. If Jenny had been up front with Buffy and Giles from the start, the loss of Angel’s soul might have been avoided and she might still be alive after “Passion”. Jenny made a choice and finds that the doors that lead to safety are now all closed. It’s vital we do our best to make smart choices in life, because the consequences just aren’t worth a moment of blind passion, whether in love or in vengeance, no matter how much the Angelus’ of the world might try to convince us otherwise.

I’m really going to miss Jenny, I have to say. While not the most complex character, I appreciated just how well she meshed with and played off of Giles. In the end, Jenny was doing her best to make up for her mistakes to Buffy and Giles, which sets a good example for Buffy to follow. The reconciliation scene between Jenny and Giles where she lets it spill that she loves him is nicely played by both actors. Even after Jenny’s admission, Giles still places Buffy ahead of his own desires and keeps his distance from Jenny. When she asks how to make it right with him, Giles kindly (and correctly) states that he understands where she’s coming from but that it’s not him she needs to make it right with: it’s Buffy. To Jenny’s credit, that’s precisely what she’s doing by translating the curse that was originally forced onto Angelus. Also, good on her for creating a backup of the translation! Always create a backup of important information, kids. 😉

Before Jenny even gets the chance to remedy the situation, Buffy approaches her and pays Giles back for the sacrifices he’s made regarding Jenny. At first Buffy can’t quite bring herself to let go of what happened, telling Jenny to “keep it up” re feeling bad — a suitably adolescent thing to say — but she quickly catches herself being selfish. Buffy may not be warm and fuzzy towards Jenny still, but she cares about Giles too much to selfishly let her anger and hurt stop him from a shot at companionship, so she gives Jenny enough forgiveness to open the path of reconnection with Giles. This side of Buffy — one of the best — will be badly needed in the coming episodes. If anything, Buffy forgiving Jenny for her involvement in Angel’s transformation may just be the very growth that keeps her alive in “I Only Have Eyes for You” [2×19].

The selfless behavior on display here is one of the aspects I love most about the characters of Buffy. Within the span of about ten minutes of screen time we see Giles sacrifice companionship for his charge, Jenny sacrifice time and the loyalty to her people for Buffy, and Buffy sacrifice anger, pain, and resentment for the benefit of Giles. Even when we fail to live up to our potential and make poor choices in life, forgiveness and sacrifice are always available to begin the process of healing those wounds. This should be expected from the adults, but it’s a huge step of maturation for Buffy, and I’m thrilled to see it! Underneath all their flaws, these characters are ultimately really good people.

I have to take a moment to discuss just how effective the horror movie staging is throughout “Passion”. The episode starts off on edge, sure, but it manages to continue to accrue tension and fear as it progresses. I’ve already discussed the brilliant opening scene, but take the scene where Willow is in her room talking to Buffy over the phone. In that conversation Willow says that she agrees with the ‘ignore the problem’ approach regarding Angelus that Giles suggested earlier. Well… until she finds all of her fish dead in an envelope left by Angelus! Take note of how the camera slowly pans around behind the fish tank as Willow opens the envelope. When the camera settles, the frame has us looking through an empty tank, thus signifying what has happened right before Willow realizes it by pulling out all the stringed fish. This refrain will be repeated to devastating effect when Giles returns home later in the episode.

The Angelus/Joyce scene in front of Buffy’s house is also incredibly creepy. What makes the entire scene work so well are the little things, such as how Angelus’ words seem to speed up with an increased urgency the more he talks and the way in which he manically tries to pick up Joyce’s spilled fruit but totally fails at getting them back in the grocery bag. Angelus is going through the motions of helping, but really doesn’t care, just like he was feigning comfort to a sleeping Buffy at the beginning of the episode. All that tension and concern we have is then used by Angelus to crudely drop the bombshell of his night of passion with Buffy right onto Joyce. Angelus’ rant about how he “needs” Buffy may be a bit theatrical, but it’s actually not very far off from how he actually feels; Angelus is now both running wild and completely obsessed with Buffy.

The ensuing scene between Buffy and Joyce about ‘the sex’ is interesting. Joyce, being her usual self, is in reaction mode to a situation that’s already happened. I understand Joyce’s frustration that Buffy didn’t mention she had a boyfriend, but it’s up to her to stay involved in Buffy’s life. Considering Buffy’s strange hours and odd behavior patterns, Joyce has all the clues she needs to know that something isn’t quite right here. Buffy’s comment in “Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered” [2×16] about Joyce’s ability to repress things is incredibly accurate.

Everything Joyce says to Buffy about showing better judgment and making mistakes sounds right, but how can Buffy show better judgment when her parents haven’t displayed what that even looks like in their own relationship and lives? Children need their parents to be consistent role models growing up. Without a positive example being set within the household, mistakes like this are almost certainly going to happen. I honestly feel that Joyce shares some of the blame for this whole situation. Joyce does care about Buffy, I just don’t think she cares as much as other parts of her life, like the gallery.

To swing back to Angelus, I think it’s clear that his intent (thus far) is not to kill Buffy. He wants to do to her what he did to Drusilla — drive her to insanity. Also like Drusilla, only then would he either turn her into a vampire or kill her. Buffy even brings up Drusilla when talking about Angelus’ attack tactics. Giles tries to offer comfort, but all he ends up doing is jinxing himself in the worst way imaginable by telling Buffy, “I know how hard this is for you… alright, I don’t! But as the Slayer you don’t the luxury of being a slave to your passions. You mustn’t let Angel get to you, no matter how provocative his behavior may become.” It turns out Buffy’s response is spot on: that’s easy for him to say (so far)! Poor Giles is about to be tested by his own advice.

“Passion is the source of our finest moments. The joy of love… the clarity of hatred… and the ecstasy of grief.” – Angelus

Angelus’ passion for psychological destruction is truly unmatched. As shocking and unexpected as Jenny’s murder is, “Passion” almost immediately tops itself with another crackerjack scene: Giles finding Jenny’s dead body laid out on his bed. Within the span of just one episode we get one of the creepiest scenes in TV history (the opening scene in Buffy’s bedroom) and one of the most torturous/painful ones, at least as far as I’m concerned. Everything is staged so despairingly perfect by Angelus to deliver the heaviest possible blow to Giles.

The opera music Angelus sets up in the background — Puccini’s romantic “La Bohème”, a story of a couple’s, Rodolfo and Mimi, innocent passion and first love — is masterfully timed to Giles’ emotional beats throughout this powerhouse scene. The fact that Giles even has this in his collection gives us some added insight into who he is; he clearly has a very passionate, romantic side to him, even if it’s often intellectualized and concealed. I think this is quite consistent with what we’ve learned about Giles so far.

When Giles first approaches his door he pauses to notice the rose attached to it, hearing the music faintly playing on the other side. Immediately he is set up to believe this will be a doorway to a beautiful evening with Jenny, and perhaps a new start to a beautiful future, but sometimes — even if we choose well — life throws us a twist that is entirely out of our control. The warm smile that passes through Giles as he smells the rose — remember that Angelus gave Buffy a box of roses for Valentine’s Day with a note saying “soon” — has the opposite reaction to the viewer: a growing sorrow in our gut.

When Giles enters his home, he sees a note alongside a chilled bottle of wine. The opera in the background translates to Mimi saying, “I dare not say what I’d like,” to which Rodolfo responds, “Tell me.” Giles then opens the note: “Upstairs”, it reads. Chilling. The music then suddenly swells into the ultra-romantic, thus leading Giles up the rose littered stairs towards his bedroom. Rodolfo’s singing in the background, “Oh lovely girl, oh sweet face / Bathed in the soft moonlight / I see you in a dream / I’d dream forever!” The music builds as Giles reaches his bedroom to find Jenny laying there, waiting for him… but dead. The opera segment reaches its climax at the precise moment of maximum pain. “Ah! Love, you rule alone!,” Mimi sings. Angelus may be incredibly sadistic and deadly, but he’s creative in equal measure. Incredible.

It should be noted that this opera has numerous parallels to the Buffy/Angel relationship, yet Angelus ensures that the connections run even deeper: “La Bohème” ends with Mimi’s death! Per a synopsis of the final act: “Rodolfo falls across Mimi’s lifeless body with despairing cries and sobs of grief.” The Buffy/Angel relationship ended because the Angel she knew had effectively “died”, Giles/Jenny has now ended because Jenny has been killed, and I’m sure Angelus plans the final act of all of this to be the death of Buffy herself, likely as a vampire (remember one of Buffy’s “Nightmares” [1×10]?). This is simply brilliant storytelling here, and everything comes together: writing, directing, editing, music, acting… the works.

This situation is awful enough for Giles to deal with, yet it’s even worse because of his earlier words to Buffy about not letting Angelus provoke them into being a slave to their passions. (And remember his words in “Innocence” [2×14]? “The coming months are going to be hard, I suspect on all of us.”) In a time of extreme anger and pain, even Giles becomes susceptible to a passionate rage in response to this level of cruelty, which was about the only thing Angelus could do that would make him abandon his commitment to Buffy.

By going after Angelus alone Giles puts everything he’s worked for — all that prior restraint and sacrifice — at risk over a moment of white hot, passionate vengeance. All it takes is one mistake to get someone (or yourself) hurt or killed in the Buffyverse, which is simply a more extreme parallel to our world. This is also an important lesson: consequences don’t care if you’ve shown control in the past. A mistake is a mistake, and it’s a constant battle to stay disciplined and make the right choice, particularly during harrowing circumstances. “There’s only one problem with Giles in a revenge scenario,” Buffy says. “It’s gonna get him killed.” Buffy will rightfully tell him that “You can’t leave me! I can’t do this alone.” At this point in her life, she most certainly cannot — she’s not an adult yet.

Seeing Angelus in pure ecstasy as he watches Buffy and Willow crushed by the news of Jenny’s death instills this torturous mixture of deep pain, enormous sorrow, and furious anger in me — I certainly empathize with Giles’ rage. If everyone, both viewer and characters alike, weren’t sure before, this is a definitive ‘Angelus Must Die’ moment. The pounding beats from the beginning of the episode begin to intertwine with the Giles and Jenny theme song in this scene, thus bringing Buffy, Giles, and Angelus together into a cruel symphonic marriage. This is absolutely sublime work from Christophe Beck that twists my heart up in all kinds of knots.

Remember back in “Lie to Me” [2×07] when the camera was positioned outside of Buffy’s house as Buffy and Angel had an important conversation? Remember how it was about handling the truth and the fact that Angel had lied to her about his whereabouts and his past? The window had a transparent curtain in between it and the camera, which partially obscured the people inside the house, thus emphasizing how the lines between good and evil were beginning to become fuzzier to Buffy in adolescence. Well that curtain — in a very similar camera shot — returns during this scene, only now Angel is outside the house looking in, taking pleasure at Buffy’s suffering. That scene in “Lie to Me” [2×07] suddenly feels a lot more important now. There were so many warning signs regarding Angel that Buffy could have heeded. But like all the locked doors blocking Jenny from escape, what’s done is done — there’s no going back.

“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.” – Angelus

Inviting new people into our lives makes us very vulnerable, and the closer we get to them the more vulnerable we become. There is never a guarantee that our relationships will end well, no matter how careful the choices we make are. At the end of the day it’s worth bringing people into our lives, because they can enrich them as much as they can devastate them. It’s all about being careful who to trust. “I love you. I don’t know if I trust you,” Buffy tells Angel in “Lie to Me” [2×07]. Angel’s response has become haunting: “Maybe you shouldn’t do either.”

Angelus was right about one thing: without passion, we’d be truly dead, just like he is. Ultimately, death — whether literal or figurative — is the only guaranteed protection from the risks of living with passion, and that’s obviously not a healthy option. A life without passion, in its myriad of forms, while theoretically safer, isn’t much of a life at all. That doesn’t mean we can’t protect ourselves by minimizing risk though, and that’s where trust comes in — trust in others and in ourselves; with trust, passion can be a truly beautiful thing, but without trust, it can equally overwhelm us and burn down everything we’ve worked so hard to build. As the spirit guide will tell Buffy in Season 5, “Love, give, forgive. Risk the pain, it is your nature.” It is in all our natures. But that doesn’t mean we can’t be smart about it by expressing our passion with eyes, and mind, wide open.

The lessons of “Phases” [2×15] (maintaining control) and “Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered” [2×16] (not allowing love to turn into obsession) seem all that much more powerful now, wouldn’t you say? Season 2 is incredible at times, particularly in the way it continues to build on the themes established in prior episodes. “Passion” is the ultimate reminder of why I love Buffy the Vampire Slayer so very much, and is perhaps its very best episode — I’m eager to entertain that conversation.

“Passion” goes beyond doing everything “right” and instead achieves a kind of operatic status in its own right, which is particularly fitting in this romantic, intimate, and operatic second season. It is one of those perfect examples of the kind of television that Critically Touched covets by developing characters, being extremely well-written, having impressive depth, packing an emotional wallop, and working hard to earn every single moment of its incredibly dark tone. Amazingly, Season 2 isn’t even close to finished yet with the sparkling “I Only Have Eyes for You” [2×19] and character defining finale “Becoming Pt. 1” [2×21] and “Becoming Pt. 2” [2×22] right around the corner.

Buffy says, “I’m sorry I couldn’t kill him for you… for her… when I had the chance. I wasn’t ready. But I think I finally am. I can’t hold on to the past anymore.” We’ll find out soon.

“I’ll say it, replay it, and try tomorrow / I’ll say it, replay it, and live with sorrow … You’d think I learn by now / There’s never an easy way / I get through somehow / I’m on my knees to pray … I’ll admit I’m wrong / But I’m getting on track / I’ve been here too long / I’m under attack.” – “Never an Easy Way” (Morcheeba) kicks off “Passion” by contributing some very resonant Buffy insight at the Bronze


Minor Pros/Cons (+/-)

+ The way Angelus intensely looks at Buffy in the crowd at the Bronze is quite reminiscent to the look on Spike’s face when he first laid eyes on her in “School Hard” [2×03]. 😉
+ Angelus appears to still be wearing his Claddagh ring.
+ Buffy’s confused and almost perturbed expression when Jonathan enters the library to actually check out a book.
+ Joyce telling Buffy she’s read “all the parenting books.” Maybe too many, it seems. Joyce should be spending less time reading parenting books and more time actually talking to her about important issues before they happen.
+ Drusilla names her new puppy Sunshine. Haha.
+ The escalation of Spike and Angelus’ hostilities. This is wonderful background development.
+ It’s very fitting that Jenny ends up using a computer program to translate an ancient text. It just thematically meshes with the show and the Buffy character so well.
+ Willow referencing Xander’s Snoopy Dance, which we’ll get to see in “The Replacement” [5×03]. 🙂
+ Excellent lighting and framing in the scene where Drusilla visits the magic shop owner. Drusilla looks like an apparition standing in that doorway with the moonlight pouring in from behind her. Chilling.
+ Xander wanting “credit” for saying that Angel was a bad seed numerous times before. This is just such a selfish — yet very Xander — thing to say. The timing is particularly horrid. Moments like these show the worst side of Xander.
+ Spike realizing he’d prefer to have soulful Angel back now — Angelus is simply too unstable and obsessive toward Buffy. Spike then lets Giles get his licks in on Angelus, which is just great.
+ Even the villains can’t escape a jinx by saying, “Don’t worry, roller boy, I’ve got everything under control,” right before Giles lights up the place with fire. Haha.
+ Fabulous fight choreography between Buffy and Angelus; stunning and seamless directing in one of the best fight sequences they ever did.

– My only quibble with “Passion” is when Buffy punches Giles and hugs him outside the factory. That moment was cut away from way too soon, which began dispersing some powerful emotions that I wasn’t ready to let go of yet.


Foreshadowing

* The magic shop owner mentioning he sold the Orb of Thesula as “new age paperweights last year.” In “Becoming Pt. 1” [2×21] we find out that Giles was the buyer!


[Score]

EXCEPTIONAL

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165 thoughts on “Buffy 2×17: Passion”

  1. [Note: Amanda posted this comment on March 18, 2007.]

    Most Definitely agree this is one of my favorite episodes of the series. Glad you gave it the rating you have!

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  2. [Note: buffyholic posted this comment on July 25, 2007.]

    I agree with the score. This is a perfect episode and one of my all time favorites. It`s funny because when I watch this episode I always get a weird feeling inside me, like I wanna cry uncontrollably. This is a creepy episode and everyone just gives outstanding performances.

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  3. [Note: Austin posted this comment on August 21, 2007.]

    It seems to be such a small detail but we Giles pauses to fix his hair before going upstairs, it makes me feel all the more sorry for him, knowing how excited he is and how futile it is.

    Also I might be reaching here but when Giles says, “of all the people I’ve buried, she was the first I loved.” It seems more natural to say, she was the only one I loved, which leads me to believe that this is foreshadowing season 5 when he has to bury Buffy. Anyone agree?

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  4. [Note: BreakAtmo posted this comment on October 22, 2007.]

    I really thought this ep was excellent – the death of Jenny was brutal, because I LOVE her character – smart, pretty, sexy, kind, progressive. That I don’t think Giles ever really forgave Angel just rubs salt in the wound. The scene where Giles calls Willow and Buffy is brilliant – the lack of sound gave Sarah and Alyson a big challenge, and they pulled it off admirably. The differences between the two girls are really highlighted, with Willow breaking down completely, while Buffy slides down the wall to her knees, looking utterly lost.

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  5. [Note: gabrielleabelle posted this comment on November 7, 2007.]

    I remember this episode floored me when I first saw it. It was the first time I’d seen a genre show (or any show, really) take this kind of risk.

    Gotta say, though, as this episode is generally brutal and painful to watch…Spike holding back Dru and telling her she has to be tagged to enter the ring always makes me laugh.

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  6. [Note: Pat posted this comment on May 24, 2008.]

    I was so pissed when Jenny died. I was yelling at the TV for her to run faster… didn’t work. As much as I liked her character though, her death really did make the show that much greater.

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  7. [Note: Nix posted this comment on May 26, 2008.]

    Hah! I found a fault! A huge glaring fault!

    The translation of the Ritual of the Undead contains a *spelling error* (‘seperated’).

    Now obviously this should knock at *least* sixty points off the score. (Anything more would be extreme.)

    (And yes, if *this* is the largest fault in the episode, it’s well-nigh flawless. And bone-chilling.)

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  8. [Note: Toby posted this comment on July 29, 2008.]

    This is my favourite episode of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” – It is the most repulsive, perverted, shocking and above all powerful thing I have ever seen on a television series. I can’t think of a single episode out there which also take every thing about BtVS that is great and cram them into forty minutes of purely perfect television without making it seem like ti is travelling too fast.

    Let’s see there is: humour, witty dialogue, a killer plot, some generally gruesome acts by Angelus (he would cool it art), the incredible chase scene, a death of a main character, a death of a character just after the reconciliation with THE main character, brilliant characterisation, sensational acting, the truly gruesome, almost unwatchable scene where Giles learns Jenny is dead in the worst way imaginable, the revenge scene with Giles, the fight scene with Buffy and Angelus, the final scene with Giles laying Jenny to rest admitting he never loved anyone he laid to rest and Buffy apologising for not killing him when she had the chance and the final shot of the disk falling down the side of the desk as if to punctuate that all is not lost – all this punctuated with a terrific soundtrack and some magnificent cinematography.

    If all this isn’t reason enough to be captivated by this episode, then you are obviously devoid of passion yourself (see what I did there). I forgot to mention – this episode also contains my favourite line of the series – perhaps a definition that applies to everyone’s life – “Without passion, we’d be truly dead.” For some reason, that line gives me tingles up and down my spine.

    There are so many things I love about this episode that i haven’t even mentioned, but if I mentioned them all, the review would simply be a transcript of the entire episode.

    maybe its because it is chilling to watch – yet like a train wreck you simply can’t take your eyes off it – or the fact that by the end of the episode you are left numb and empty – hollow. Or simply because it is such an important episode in the second half of season two – vital to the arc and to the way everything pans out in the season.

    Whatever the reason, “Passion” is one episode that I habve watched and will continue to watch and be captivated by over and over again – truly remarkable television.

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  9. [Note: Saro posted this comment on September 27, 2008.]

    I think this is by far the best episode of season two and establishes Angelus as the best villain of the series. What always surprises me is how it doesn’t make me cry like becoming, the gift, chosen etc. but just makes me feel bad. It’s a horrible episode and is only improved upon in the body.

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  10. [Note: Paula posted this comment on November 25, 2008.]

    Shocking and sickening as this episode is, I can’t help adoring the way both Dru and Spike handle the cute “orphan” dog. (When she finally places it in Spike’s lap, he just absent-mindedly puts an arm around it and scritches it behind the ear… One can always hope that maybe “Sunshine” had the presence of mind to escape when Giles attacked, or something.)

    Oh, and Spike’s “No fair going into the ring unless he tags you first” always gets a laugh and three cheers out of me. 🙂

    Like

  11. [Note: Sam posted this comment on November 25, 2008.]

    Every episode featuring Spike & Dru during the second half of the second season is sheer, utter brilliance. It’s that simple. Every one of them is nearly flawless. All of them. Surprise, Innocence, BB&B, Passion, IOHEFY, and Becoming: Still the most powerful, shocking arc in the entire series.

    Like

  12. [Note: Stilicho posted this comment on April 20, 2009.]

    Hi, I LOVE the show, but a question came to my mind, perhaps someone can help me with it: As I understand, a Vampire cannot enter a building inhabited by humans unless he/she’s invited in. How then can Angel place the body of Jenny into Giles’ house? Has he been there before when he was not evil? I am asking also because I just noticed that in 3×08 (Lover’s Walk) Spike enters the witch-shop (where he sees Willow) by the back door obviously not invited. Does the rule not apply to shops (perhaps because customers are always welcome)? Would be interesting to look if the writers were always consistent with the rule throughout the series. Can someone explain?

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  13. [Note: Paula posted this comment on April 20, 2009.]

    Stilicho, I’m not sure right now if it was actually shown in some earlier episode, but obviously Giles had invited Angel in at some point when he still had a soul. And Giles hadn’t quite yet performed the deinviting spell.

    And public spaces, including shops, aren’t protected against vampires the same way private homes are. It’s been shown before that vampires can freely enter schools, hospitals, etc.

    There’s an episode in “Angel” (the spin-off series) where Angel enters a home without invitation in order to save someone’s life, but it’s pointed out right away as an exception probably due to intereference from higher powers. Other than that, I think the writers do manage to be pretty consistent about this.

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  14. [Note: Stilicho posted this comment on April 21, 2009.]

    Thank you, Paula! This is plausible. I was only thinking about it, because Angel always seemed to be kind of remote and keeping his distance from others than Buffy, so I wondered if there really was a visit and invitation to Giles’ home. But well, seems like it. I thought that public spaces might be excepted from the rule, but when Spike entered the school in “School hard” it was mentioned this was possible because of the specific dictum above the entrance welcoming visitors. So I was wondering if something specific like this would perhaps be necessary. But it seems not so. Thanks a lot for the answer!

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  15. [Note: Stilicho posted this comment on April 21, 2009.]

    Again to that topic: In “Amends” (3×10) Giles actually HAS to invite Angel in… though it would be no great surprise that Giles performed a deinviting spell after Jenny’s death without that we know of it.

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  16. [Note: Ida posted this comment on July 26, 2009.]

    I hate how this episode gets to me. I didn’t even like Jenny that much, but my god it hurts to see Giles this way!

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  17. [Note: Scoobasteve posted this comment on August 25, 2009.]

    Needless to say that I LOVE this episode. I just rewatched it and I think I can say, that this is my favourite episode of the entire series, maybe even including AtS.

    Like

  18. [Note: Shelby posted this comment on September 22, 2009.]

    This episode really shocked me and sold me on Buffy. Prior to this, Buffy was fun and relatively light-hearted, with some pretty good drama mixed in. Here, you truly realize what these characters face and how much you care for them. It just gets sadder and sadder…the snapping of her neck…Giles in his apartment with the music…when Giles sees her…when he calls Buffy…when he breaks down in Buffy’s arms…when Willow runs the class. GAH! Just…brilliant.

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  19. [Note: Kate posted this comment on October 26, 2009.]

    Possibly my favorite episode; it seriously creeped me out yet mesmerized me the first time I watched it. Everyone gave such great performances. I thought the worst was over when Angelus killed Jenny, and then Giles came home and saw the rose on the door and I literally went “Oh my God, no.” What made this episode great was the raw emotion conveyed by the dialogue, the charaters/actors, and the way it evoked that emotion in the viewer.

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  20. [Note: Vera@Amsterdam posted this comment on November 17, 2009.]

    Willow breaking down made this ep. more amazing. It was really gutwrenching. (don’t know if it’s spelled correctly (my native language is dutch so….:) )

    Like

  21. [Note: David@Prague posted this comment on April 2, 2010.]

    I was tempted to stop watching Buffy since I have seen several really mediocre episodes and some really stupid logic mistakes (vampires beating Xander in the library but not drink from him being one of those in Master ressurection episode ).

    The reason I did not stop was well done character development which is rarely seen in TV.

    And now I am glad I did not stop because they even dared to show CONSEQUENCES. I love that because almost every movie or serie is afraid of showing them.

    Buffy spared Angelus. And he came back and killed not only several “unknown” people but one of liked main character as well. He hurt Giles that way and through him Buffy. And she knows that she and only she is the responsible for all those deaths.

    Her emotions clouded her judgement too much and now she must bear dire consequences.

    I am impressed.

    Like

  22. [Note: Max posted this comment on April 22, 2010.]

    Apparently, Oz, rather than Jenny was supposed to be killed. I’m so glad it didn’t happen because Oz is awesome, and I think the strain on the Buffy-Giles relationship was better than Buffy-Willow would have been, at THAT point.

    Truly stunning episode for all the reasons covered. I must say that David Boreanaz’ voice work in the narrative is awesome.

    This episode gave me a trouble time sleeping (I was about 10 when it aired).

    Like

  23. [Note: nathan.taurus posted this comment on July 29, 2010.]

    Fantastic episode. The Angelus voice over was a great addition. Everytime I watch the 80 second run/chase scene with Angelus and Jenny I always think that Buffy will come in and save her. Of course, she had to die because Buffy had partly forgiven her and Giles was to have another shot…cannot have people happy, it wouldn’t be a Joss show.

    The use of the Giles/Jenny love theme is fantastic.

    I like how we later find out Giles was one customer who purchased the Thesulac Orb as a new age paper weight.

    Giles with a flaming baseball bat. And again he gets choked unconcious.

    I would have kept the shattered Buffy/Giles scene outside the factory going for a little longer.

    The only thing that is weird is that Jenny Calendar has a headstone up already. Okay, being Sunnydale most residents probably already have their headstones on pre-order just in case they suffer from ‘neck rupture’ or something.

    It was brutal and quick the death of Jenny. “Sorry, Jenny, this is where you get off.” SNAP! Great line.

    Like

  24. [Note: Susan posted this comment on August 7, 2010.]

    I watched this the other night for the first time in a long time and I couldn’t get over how it made me feel right from the very beginning. I think that knowing what was going to happen made it more difficult to watch than the first time when it all came as an incredible surprise. It was extremely painful to watch. What an amazing work of art!

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  25. [Note: G1000 posted this comment on August 31, 2010.]

    Just thought I’d mention that this episode contains my favorite piece of dialogue in the entire series.

    Jenny: How did you get in?

    Angelus: I was invited. The sign on the door. (Says something in Latin)

    Jenny: Enter all ye who seek knowledge.

    That whole exchange is just marvelous, and so creepy.

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  26. [Note: Michael Carruthers posted this comment on September 22, 2010.]

    This episode definitely deserves a perfect score. It’s absolutely flawless and represents the high-point of season 2’s story-arc. Angelus as a villain couldn’t be topped after this episode.

    Like

  27. [Note: anonymous posted this comment on March 20, 2011.]

    Just to let you know, Jenny Calendar is *not* a main character. A main character must be part of the opening credits. Big typo there.

    Like

  28. [Note: Andrea posted this comment on April 19, 2011.]

    The scene between Angel and Joyce in the driveway/on the porch is one of the best and most frightening scenes of the episode, because the whole time you’re thinking Joyce is going to get it. (Although I don’t know why Buffy lets her stay out there and drop her groceries, etc. Angel could have killed her in a split second if he’d wanted to. And Buffy must – MUST – have been watching to see when her mom would arrive home.) Kristine Sutherland deserves huge props for her work here – she acts EXACTLY as I imagine my mom acting if some guy was stalking me and showed up uninvited at my house. And the look she gives Angel when he reveals that he and Buffy had sex? Flawless. I love how she is so protective of Buffy here.

    I love Joyce more and more every time I rewatch the series… And as always, I am dreading S5.

    Jenny’s death just makes you sick. As soon as she sees Angel there, and has to stand there for so long as he babbles, but has no hope of escape, can’t call out to anyone – not Buffy, not Giles… wow.

    Love, LOVE, Giles getting his hits in on Angel first with the burning bat – my soul was cheering there, lol! And love that Spike makes Dru stay out of it. :>

    Has anyone ever wondered where the voiceover comes from? Is it supposed to be Angelus, or Angel? It seems pretty introspective to be Angelus. Is it supposed to be at the time, or later? Or is it completely outside the narrative, just voiced by Boreanaz?

    PS – Haha, love the computer lighting on fire when Angel throws it to the ground. No one would fall for that nowadays.

    Like

  29. [Note: Maree posted this comment on April 25, 2011.]

    LOVE this episode and these reviews. I love seeing different opinions. I think what makes Angelus the perfect villain or ‘big bad’ is that he didn’t start off this way and could be the most damaging to Buffy simply because she loved him. No point repeating what else I love as other people have already said it. One thing I will add is that I love how the writers can weave humour into even the most disturbing episodes. One thing that always makes me laugh is when Angelus calls the magic shop the “local boogedy-boogedy store”. That always makes me laugh in a kind of terrified way.

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  30. [Note: Servena posted this comment on August 9, 2011.]

    This is easily my favorite episode ever. Jenny had always been my favorite character, and her death was so shocking. And Giles… that was probably the worst thing that ever happened to him. It always gets me when he fixes his hair just before going upstairs to find Jenny dead in his bed.

    Like

  31. [Note: JammyJu posted this comment on October 7, 2011.]

    Just watched this episode for the 3rd time.

    Not sure why, but watching the show with a friend and then finishing this episode, seemed to make it that much more…sudden.

    I wanted to cry at various points – Joyce and Buffy’s sex convo (resonated), Giles and Buffy after the Angelus fight – wow, sheer brilliance.

    There aren’t enough superlatives for this episode, it really is THAT good. Stunning directing, script, plot…everything.

    Like

  32. [Note: Sophie posted this comment on December 11, 2011.]

    This is a wonderful review of my favorite Buffy episode. Jenny was always my favorite character, and, though I knew what would happen in advance because of spoilers, it still left me numb. This is, in my opinion, the most poweful episode in the show so far.

    Like

  33. [Note: Gemma posted this comment on December 17, 2011.]

    This is one of most beautifully written and acted piece of television, it escalates that Buffy as a show doesn’t play by the rules; no one is safe.

    Its hard to believe Angel is evil, the mention of his past deeds is one thing but seeing him kill a much loved character is another. It is a driving force to make palpable that Angel is evil, not a little evil but truly. Its doubly difficult for Buffy, the animal; Angelus, who first began to taunt them turned to torment, drawing pictures, killing fish and confessing Buffy’s secrets to her mother but then he escalates this by murdering Jenny is doing all those things with her boyfriends face; the face of an Angel. He once used that face to protect, to love and to comfort Buffy and her friends now uses to look through a window at the heart wrenching phone call and takes pleasure in his actions.

    Four scenes; following one another act as knife twisting in my heart every time i watch Passion; Jenny’s successful translation of the resurrection spell and then looking up to the realisation that Angelus has been there watching her and the chase that ensues. Giles arriving home, seeing the what he believes is Jenny’s romantic gesture only for is happiness to turn to shock and horror when he reaches his bedroom. The phone call he makes to Buffy and finally Buffy holding on to Giles, noting wanting to let go in fear of loosing him too.

    Angelus’ attack on Jenny is not out of hunger or any other quintessential vampiric need but it is contrived, he believes it conducive to his remaining the driving force in Angel’s body. Snapping her neck and arranging the her in Giles bed, setting the scene is a message to Buffy. Its the insight into Angelus that the show has needed; that he sees killing as an art form. It makes solid his true nature and that he isn’t just going to go away.

    The rest of the cast shine just as brightly as Giles, Buffy and Angelus. Spikes anger and annoyance at Angelus antics regarding his derision of him and the moves he makes towards Dru. WIllow also is a notable character; her response to receiving the news of Jenny’s death and the responsibility she takes over the IT class. Xander’s on from again in this episode; The speech he makes on his all being for Giles killing Angelus underlines his feelings of him from the start.

    The dialogue and the comedy lines where delivered exceptionally; Cordelia’s panic over having invited Angel in to her car and WIllows reaction to Cordelia’s statement about her lack of fish.

    There is nothing of the bad in this episode. Truly amazing and heart wrenching. Five by Five.

    Like

  34. [Note: Zoe posted this comment on June 7, 2012.]

    In a symbolic sense I think that Jenny Calender had to die because she represents the gypsy people that put this curse on Angel in the first place. This curse was not for the better good of the world but purely revenge from her people. It shows the moral that out of hate only comes more hate and death. As a soulless vampire it is in Angelus’s nature to kill. It is not the soulful Angel’s nature, though he still has darkness like all soulful beings do. It is this darkness that I think was as good as equal to anything the Angelus could have done that the gypsy people used on Angel. Both Angelus and the Gyspies know that death is merciful. It is much more painful to stay alive and watch the ones you love suffer or to know you will never find happiness than it is to die. So you see in someways the gyspies caused the same pain to Angel as Angelus caused to Buffy and Buffy’s Friends I think it is interesting that though Angelus could have easy have killed any one of Buffy’s friends including Buffy herself that he ended up killing Jenny.

    I also think it is interesting how pensively Angelus looks at Buffy well she is sleeping. He could easy kill in her sleep or torture her. I think Angelus can’t even grasp what it is that Angel sees in Buffy and in love. Love is as foreign and beyond frightful to a soulless monster like Angelus. Maybe this is the hopeless native girly in me but I think even as Angelus, he feels what Angel has felt towards Buffy no matter how much he tries he can’t put an end to those feelings.

    The more I think about this show and read about it the more in love with it I fall.

    Like

  35. [Note: Gemma posted this comment on July 25, 2012.]

    But wouldn’t it be like the Bronze? Shops, cinemas, clubs etc need customers and so an invite isn’t needed.

    Like

  36. [Note: Great Whazoo posted this comment on August 8, 2012.]

    I didn’t quite get the scene where Giles stops by Willow’s house. If anyone can shed some light as to what it was about, please put your thoughts out there.

    As well, I believe Buffy blamed Jenny for the “Angelus” debaucle far more than she felt it was her mistake, or the fact she became intimate before she was ready. If Jenny had been forthcoming from the beginning to Giles & Buffy, the issue could have been resolved.

    Like

  37. [Note: R Martin posted this comment on October 17, 2012.]

    Yeah really can’t disagree definetley one of Buffys strongest and mos emotionally powerfull episodes. I think bringing Angelus back at a later date might have been a good idea maybe in a crossover episode. I would have liked to have seen him kill Xander or Anya

    Like

  38. [Note: Megs posted this comment on November 26, 2012.]

    Watching the show for the first time (late bloomer, okay!) I absolutely agree that this is a fantastic and chilling episode. However, the scene in the computer lab was temporarily ruined for me by the computer catching on fire. I was laughing hard enough at the campfire they set in that monitor that I had to pause and compose myself before I could get back into the mood. Otherwise, awesome.

    Like

  39. [Note: Summer posted this comment on December 18, 2012.]

    You wanted Angel to kill Xander?! way harsh, Tai. :(The chase scene is so incredibly scary. It just goes on and on. Jenny puts up such a fight that you think… she might actually make it and then… snap. Just like that it’s over. Wow.Also, Willow and the fishes. Finally, Xander’s unrelenting anger toward Angel is justified. And thank God Cordelia has a car.

    Like

  40. [Note: Seele posted this comment on January 30, 2013.]

    Yeah, but it wasn’t a home. Remember the guy in an Angel S2 flashback who threatened to bring a sleeping bag into his store to make it a home?

    Like

  41. [Note: Josh Man posted this comment on August 21, 2013.]

    This was the first episode of Buffy I ever saw, this is where I started watching the show way back when it was on TV. It was a long time before I was willing to accept Angel as a hero. It ultimately took the spinoff. Even after I went back and watched all of season 1 and the majority of season 2 prior to the start of season 3, I hated Angel and wasn’t worry Buffy had seemingly ended him. His return was not a good thing in my book at first. It’s strange how your perceptions of a character and show change based on the order you watched it in.

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  42. [Note: Jen posted this comment on September 11, 2013.]

    Josh Man, this was also the first episode of Buffy I ever saw. It was on the summer re-runs before the 3rd season, and I had always made fun of the series before this; although, I hadn’t actually seen a single episode at that point.

    So I sat down to watch this, and I had no idea who anybody was or why this creepy guy was stalking Buffy. But I will always remember that I was laughing during the chase scene because I thought Buffy was going to show up and save the day, and I couldn’t believe how predictable the whole thing was. But then Angel snapped Jenny’s neck. At that point I knew the show was brilliant, and I was completely addicted.

    But like you, I never really liked the Buffy/Angel relationship. I didn’t see why he had to come back in Season 3, and I always liked Buffy with anybody else more. Even Parker. And as much as I worship at the feet of Joss Whedon, I must admit that I didn’t make it through all of Angel: The Series. I never bought him as a hero either.

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  43. [Note: WCRobinson posted this comment on September 12, 2013.]

    Yep, the neck snap is cruelly cool, shocking and completely unexpected. It has to be one of the biggest moments in the show; that, combined with the utterly horrible Giles discovery seen, was when I knew this show was special.

    I’m making my friend watch it, and we watched this episode just yesterday. He was pretty happy and making light-hearted comments in the chase scene, but when Angelus did the neck snap he just went silent and his face was priceless.

    2nd favourite episode after Fool for Love for me.

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  44. [Note: T.G. posted this comment on January 22, 2014.]

    This is the episode that changed my whole view of television. When I first watched it, It was like I wanted to cry, but the tears wouldn’t come out. I’ve never seen a show that could be this cruel to its characters. This is certainly my favorite episode, sorry if this comment is useless but I have to make it known to the world.

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  45. [Note: Luvtennis posted this comment on February 15, 2014.]

    Just thinking again how iconic the opening scene at the bronze remains. You have the three girls with Zander, friendships all at full bloom even in the face of the dangers around them. And then you have Angel lurking, hating, and resenting their strength in the face of his attacks. And that narration … so full of truths and half truths, lies to them and to himself. Yes, passion, our passions, are a huge part of who we are, but not the only part. It’s like Angelus is trying to rationalize his own behavior. Or is the narration by Angel, perhaps reflecting at a later point in time about those events – he did have a perfect memory and the narration sounds more like Angel than Angelus.

    There is also the point where it becomes clear that Angelus is also slave to his passions. He errs fatally by failing to kill Buffy when he can, by killing Jenny and cruelly toying with Giles, he ensures that Buffy will be ready to kill him when the time comes. Two personalities, similar weaknesses.

    I also love the fact Angel plays such a huge role in the lives of all three women. Willow is set on her path by the spells she works as a result of him – and her interest in magic is fostered by Jenny’s death. As Buffy’s first love he pretty much ensures that she will struggle to maintain romantic relationships. Always going for the distant dangerous guy. Her experience with Angel, along with her fighting nature, results in her placing less value on the love that comes easily. Been there…. And his centrality in Cordelia’s life needs no explanation.

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  46. [Note: Luvtennis posted this comment on February 15, 2014.]

    Sorry, Andrea. Didn’t see your previous comment about the narration. I think it is deliberately ambiguous as to whether Angel or Angelus or Boreanaz is narrating. I think the scenes resonate more if it is Angel reflecting on past events.

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  47. [Note: Beth24 posted this comment on February 16, 2014.]

    Brilliant review and this is one of the greatest episodes in the whole series, but just wanted to point out one thing that has always bothered me.
    Why does Jenny ask Angel ‘How did you get in here?’ as if he would not be able to get into the school without an invite. Angel has been in that school so many times, and it is shown from the very first episode that vampires can enter the high school freely, as they please. It’s a shame, because as someone pointed out above, the dialogue exchange between Jenny and Angelus – ‘enter all ye who seek knowledge’ would otherwise be really chilling and effective.

    Can anyone manage to explain this with logic or is it just a big mistake?

    Regardless, I still adore this episode. Interesting as well that it is not one of the main Buffy writers. It definitely does feel like a stand out episode in terms of tone. Did this writer write any other eps in the series?

    Like

  48. [Note: Kyle posted this comment on February 16, 2014.]

    It is, unfortunately, a mistake. This is just one point I can’t defend. Although, I think it’s just a minor one… I would still say that this episode deserves an A+ score… Unfortunately, not even Joss Whedon is perfect…

    It’s hard sometimes for me. I watch this show so often that I can start to see its flaws and it bugs me at times. As I started watching this show so much I started to notice the stunt doubles, small screenshot mistakes, little goofs in the filming, and small writing mistakes (occasionally in the dialogue). It greatly affects me and, at times, hinders my enjoyment of the show. However, I get over it as time moves on. I figure I know this show more than any other I have ever watched (even Star Trek, which is saying something, as that was the geeky infatuation of my entire childhood) and I am sure many other shows share the same small mistakes. Okay, I said waaaaay too much. I’m done now… 🙂

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  49. [Note: Seele posted this comment on February 16, 2014.]

    Maybe they’d started protecting the school better after-hours when they realized that there was a vampire with an extra-personal grudge against them, and they’d forgotten that the invitation could get around all that work?

    Of course, even that piece of fan-theorizing still raises the question about why they hadn’t tried the same defenses earlier, or why it hadn’t been shown on-screen, or why they didn’t take the sign down afterwards… Never mind, I give up.

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  50. [Note: MikeJer posted this comment on March 8, 2014.]

    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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  51. [Note: T.G. posted this comment on March 8, 2014.]

    Fabulous review, best you have written EVER!!! Passion, in my opinion is better than “becoming part 2”, which you say is your favorite episode. I also think it is equal in overall greatness to “restless”, “The body” , “The gift”. I love everything about this episode, and I LOVED reading this review! You are a great inspiration.

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  52. [Note: MikeJer posted this comment on March 8, 2014.]

    Wow, thanks!

    As I mentioned at the end of my review, I am now totally open to the notion that “Passion” is the best episode in Buffy. It’s in my top three for sure. We won’t know if I place it above “Becoming Pt. 2” until I do the rewrite for that episode, but it’s certainly possible now. 🙂

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  53. [Note: Damon posted this comment on March 8, 2014.]

    My nostalgia for the old review has evaporated. T. G. Is right, this may be your best one ever. It’s brilliant.

    Also, I think Becoming Part 2 is more enjoyable than Passion, but it only works because of what this episode did. In many ways, this is a set-up episode, which basically just makes it even more impressive, since set-up episodes aren’t usually known to be perfect.

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  54. [Note: Patrick posted this comment on March 8, 2014.]

    I’ve been working through your reviews for the past month as I watched Buffy through for the first time, with each new review a treat almost equal to the episode itself…this new one blew me away. Passion is third on my personal top ten, behind Normal Again and Restless, but that detracts nothing from its harrowing, chilling, traumatizing and bittersweet brilliance. Angelus’ monologue…the ecstasy of grief…

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  55. [Note: Kyle posted this comment on March 8, 2014.]

    No no no… We all know “Restless” is the best episode out there… I mean come on! That episode is amazing! It’s definitely the single most important episode of the show (and considering that this is a show where most episodes are vital, that just makes “Restless” even more awesome). Now with that being said, this episode is great, probably the second best of the season (yes, behind “Becoming, Part II”, in my opinion) and what a terrific review. It amazes me that you managed to formulate all these separate wonderful ideas into a coherent analysis. A truly shining review for such a spectacular episode! 🙂

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  56. [Note: MikeJer posted this comment on March 8, 2014.]

    You know what’s nuts? If I were pressed to come up with a Top 5 list, it would consist of 6 episodes. I’m not even joking. This show has too many incredible episodes. It gets to a point where I have issues ranking them against each other — I honestly don’t know if one is particularly better than another among the highest tier episodes.

    Oh, and thanks for the comments everyone! 🙂

    Like

  57. [Note: Sasukespecialman posted this comment on March 8, 2014.]

    Another fantastic review. Just wonderfully detailed and a great analysis. This episode is for sure my #1. Ever since I saw it for the first time it just lingers with me for days after each viewing.

    Great stuff, Mike!

    Like

  58. [Note: Freudian Vampire posted this comment on March 9, 2014.]

    Wonderful re-review Mike! This is unquestionably one of the greatest episodes of Buffy, and television in general, and I agree you did it justice. Although if I were going to make one minor complaint, it would be that I’m not a fan of the picture at the top. I would have chosen the neck-snap scene, or Giles and Buffy in the alley.

    I am interested to hear that you might now consider “Passion” to be the best of Buffy. Personally, I find the series nigh on impossible to rank, and there are a good 15 episodes I couldn’t separate in terms of quality. However, if I were to pick one as the absolute best, I think it would have to go to “Restless.” That truly is a masterpiece of design and the most intricate and detailed look at some of the most layered and complex characters ever to grace television.

    Nonetheless, this episode is still amazing and a definite candidate for my Top 10.

    Like

  59. [Note: Kyle posted this comment on March 9, 2014.]

    I guess I agree with you on that. For me, picking the best episodes of Buffy really comes down to taste, which, I guess, would mean that it would be more of a “favorites” list. Granted this list changes quite a bit, but I’ve noticed somewhat of a pattern with the Buffy gems I want to watch frequently, with the exception of “Restless” and “The Body” (“Restless” is too good to watch over and over again, and “The Body” is, well, I think you can understand why I don’t watch that one frequently). “The Gift”, “Becoming, PartII”, “Once More, with Feeling”, “Hush”, and this episode are the Buffy gems I like to watch the most. Anyway, again, wonderful review! 🙂
    And Freudian Vampire I completely agree with you. 🙂

    Like

  60. [Note: nathan.taurus posted this comment on March 9, 2014.]

    This episode demonstrates the differences between Angelus and Spike perfectly. Angelus could just kill Buffy in her sleep, as Cordy suggests, and be done with it, but he has to go all out and make it long and painful. Spike just wants things done fast. A quick kill and move on.

    The Jenny/Giles stuff about forgiveness reminds me of the Oz/Willow scene next season. “It’s not my problem.”

    I didn’t take the “this is where you get off” line as sexual. I just take it as we are all on the bus of life and that was her stop. Although, seeing as how it was Angelus it seems possible.

    Extra points for the floppy disc. Fantastic. It is funny watching nineties shows now.

    And points for “the talk” and Joyce saying “it was my first time too”.

    Like

  61. [Note: MikeJer posted this comment on March 9, 2014.]

    Angelus totally looks like he’s getting off by killing Jenny, and I feel that the line — like many in [i]Buffy[/i] — has a double meaning. I very much got that vibe, but each to their own I suppose.

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  62. [Note: Iguana-on-a-stick posted this comment on March 10, 2014.]

    A great screencap: so very creepy, and so very telling when you know the history of the characters.

    Anyway, now for the review itself: great work, needless to say.

    Despite everything, despite having seen the episode several times, having spent years on this forum talking about the show, having written my own reviews for Angel, despite all that; this review managed to show me the episode from new angles and deepened my understanding of its story and its themes. And that’s the highest compliment I can give any piece of criticism.

    I particularly liked the background notes on Puccini, which I’d never thought to look up, and the thematic link to “I only have eyes for you” and the general theme of forgiveness that runs throughout the season. (A very different theme than the theme of redemption that features so heavily on Angel the series.)

    Like

  63. [Note: MikeJer posted this comment on March 10, 2014.]

    Thanks! 🙂

    FYI: I just slightly updated the review, by the way. I’ve integrated a few direct translations from “La Boheme” that are sung during the big Giles scene — pretty stunning stuff.

    The updated text starts at “The opera music Angelus sets up in the background” and ends a few paragraphs below, with “the works.” There’s a link to the website with the translations too.

    I also integrated a couple YouTube links to Christophe Beck’s score for the episode — listen along while you read the review! Heh.

    Like

  64. [Note: Alex C. posted this comment on March 11, 2014.]

    One word, MikeJer: Bravo! I’ll start by simply adding my praise to the other comments for the bang-up job on reviewing one of the truly stellar episodes of the series.

    Onto some more expansive points:

    – One thing that I am somewhat surprised that you didn’t make mention of in the review was the closing shot, because this to me was one (admittedly among many) of the things that truly elevates the episode, especially in hindsight. For all the reasons that you detail, a tremendous aspect of this episode was its imbuing of both the characters and the audience with an iron resolve that the unspeakably loathsome Angelus (truly, the degree to which he is successfully characterised as so utterly and eminently hatable is astonishing) simply *must* die. To follow that up with the shot of Jenny’s back-up disc falling under the desk, which all but constitutes a visual promise that at some point in the future it will be found and the dilemma of whether or not to restore Angel’s soul will have to be grappled with – strikes me as one of the boldest decisions the writers made, and one that paid off incredible dividends. To so successfully maintain, as they did, the tension over whether Buffy would kill Angel or restore his soul (with a tremendous amount of viewer investment in both outcomes) was a crucial ingredient in the numbingly emotional tragedy of the way that Joss Whedon finally unleashed his worst-of-both-worlds solution: that Angel would get his soul back, but in a situation where Buffy immediately had to kill him anyway.

    – A few words also have to go to the performances of the actors, which in this episode once again manage to reach a new pitch of sublime. Sarah Michelle Gellar and Anthony Stewart Head are both nothing short of phenomenal, but I think that something really does have to be said about David Boreanaz. I know that admirers of his acting ability are not exactly legion, but I honestly feel that in the entire run of episodes from “Innocence” to “Becoming Part II” he never once put so much as a foot wrong with the role he had to play (except for his ‘Irish’ accent in Becoming).

    – I cannot say how much I love that you address the importance of the use of “La Bohème” in the scene where Giles comes home to Jenny, which I consider hands down to be one of, if not the, most perfectly conceived and executed scenes of the entire show. I feel I run the risk of overusing the word ‘sublime’, when it comes to moments like this.

    – A further note on the deeply creepy sexual overtones of Angelus throughout the episode: there’s a heavy implication that he and Drusilla are sleeping together, which makes Spike’s rage all the more understandable.

    It hadn’t occurred to me before that Angelus intended to culminate his campaign of mentally torturing Buffy by turning her into a vampire, but it makes so much sense that I instantly take it as true. The twistedness of this is unnerving: we can surmise that what he truly desires is for her to take the place in his life that Darla once filled, which adds an entirely new level of irony to the fact that Buffy will directly echo her in the moment when she stabs Angel at the end of Becoming.

    – “Passion” as one of the three best episodes of the entire series? I can almost just see it. At the end of the day I’m not quite sure that I would go so far as to rate it above OMWF, Restless, The Body, The Gift, or Becoming II, but insofar as there is a case to be made, I think you have made it.

    What I am certain of, more than ever, is that the last ten episodes of the 2nd season, taken as a whole, make up the most extraordinary story arc of the entire show. Arguably parts of the 3rd, 5th, and 6th seasons rival it, but truly nothing that the show did later ever quite managed to so wonderfully encapsulate and showcase the ethos of BtVS as the Innocence-Passion-IOHEFY-Becoming arc did. As amazing as those episodes are when taken individually, collectively they make up a prime example of what it means for storytelling in the tv medium to be greater than the sum of its parts.

    Like

  65. [Note: MikeJer posted this comment on March 11, 2014.]

    Nice comment!

    – I didn’t mention the closing shot much because, to be honest, I’ve seen these episodes too many times and don’t find that little tease to be all that interesting anymore. It’s more of ‘yep, they’re teasing Angel getting his soul back for the finale’. After Jenny made that backup, I don’t think there was any doubt Angel would get his soul back — it’s what happens afterward that’s the shock.

    – Agreed on the performances. Everyone really put their best out there for this one.

    – The two scenes that compete for ‘best executed’ in my mind are that one, and the opening act to “The Body”.

    – Angelus is totally sleeping with Drusilla. I have no doubt of that thanks to the Angel Season 5 episode “Destiny”.

    – Interesting observation about Buffy taking Darla’s place in Angelus’ life. I’m not sure I entirely agree because Darla wasn’t driven nuts before she got turned, which is what Angelus is trying to do to Buffy (like Drusilla). But it is a possibility.

    – I may have to alter that Top 3 statement when I get through “Becoming Pt. 2” again. That may have been hasty. Top 5, for sure. Top 3 (or Top 1), still possible though. Ranking this show is far too difficult; I should probably stop trying. Haha.

    – I agree that, as an individual arc, this is likely the best in the series. Really only parts of S5 or S6 come to mind as competition (S3 doesn’t have anything close, imo), but I think this arc wins out. It’s just so well executed, layered, deep, atmospheric, and emotional, with only one clear mistake (“Go Fish”).

    Like

  66. [Note: Freudian Vampire posted this comment on March 11, 2014.]

    How much of a decrease are we to expect when you come to re-review “Go Fish”? ‘Cos I swear, if it drops into D or F territory, I’m going to mutiny.

    (I’ll try to justify that statement when it actually comes to the review.)

    Like

  67. [Note: MikeJer posted this comment on March 11, 2014.]

    I won’t know until I review it, of course, but going in I’m feeling there’s going to be a drop of some kind. I go into these rewrites with an idea of how I feel about the episode, but I try my best to keep an open mind to being pleasantly surprised. “Killed by Death” is actually a great example of that.

    Like

  68. [Note: Freudian Vampire posted this comment on March 11, 2014.]

    Oh, I definitely think it needs a drop. It has the same score as “Gingerbread”, for goodness sake! (I’m not as mad about that episode as my friend FaithF is, but I still think it’s far and away the better episode of the two.) Still, I don’t think it deserves to be numbered among the worst episodes of the series. It’s actually rather a lot of fun, and Cordelia’s eulogy (is that the right term?) to Xander is quite touching.

    Like

  69. [Note: buffyholic posted this comment on March 17, 2014.]

    Wow, wow, wow! Awesome re-review and you managed to shine some light into some aspects I´ve never really consider in a more deep way (for example, the meaning of the opera).

    This episode is just fabulous and the performances are gut-wrenching.
    What I find more amazing is that even with a few rewatches, this episode still punches me in the gut and every time, every single time I´m hoping for Buffy to save the day and when that doesn´t happen, I´m devastated.

    Awesome work, mike.

    Side note (this is also why I wouldn´t write any reviews because I am nowhere near this good and this deep).

    Like

  70. [Note: MikeJer posted this comment on March 17, 2014.]

    Thanks!

    Don’t let the maturity of these reviews steer you away from giving it a shot though, especially if you think you might have something to say. It’s taken me nearly 10 years of off-and-on reviewing to get to this point. If you recall, my original reviews for these episodes were nothing like this. 🙂

    Like

  71. [Note: Jay posted this comment on April 6, 2014.]

    Not much to add here, but I think that this episode is among the best in this series. I was watching this show off and on up to this episode this summer, but after this episode, I started having Buffy marathons. It was this episode, not Innocence, that got me hooked on Buffy. With passions, the writers had viewers thinking that Angelus’s chase was the best part of episode, but then they topped it off with Jenny’s corpse being laid out on a bed of roses for Giles to see. I get excited just thinking about that scene… What a fine hour of drama and action!

    One note though: I don’t buy the fact that angelus is a different being from angel. He’s still angel but a very warped version of him without a soul. Angel is a fairly restrained character (in a way that makes him seem to lack passion at times… As soulful Spike says in S7, “as dull as a table lamp), but “Angelus” is passion unrestrained. Like Angel, “Angelus” is obsessed with Buffy. I agree with your opinion that angelus wants to make Buffy a Dru 2.0. I also think that angelus was out to kill Joyce in her own home; however, Willow made his plans backfire by revoking his invitation.

    Like

  72. [Note: Ali posted this comment on April 10, 2014.]

    Does anyone know why Spike, Drusilla, and Angelus were the only vamps at the factory when Giles went there for revenge? Did their minions abandon them after Buffy killed the Judge in Innocence or is this a plot hole?

    Thanks!

    Like

  73. [Note: T.G. posted this comment on April 10, 2014.]

    They could just be on break or something small like that, I mean sure it can be seen as a plot-hole, but not a huge one. In all honesty, I just think they went back to their own crypt or something, If I was powerful enough to have minions,(hehehe) I’d make them go home too! So all-in-all, no biggy!

    Like

  74. [Note: Sasukespecialman posted this comment on April 10, 2014.]

    I am sorry, but the idea of 15 vampires returning from a coffee break only to get scolded and staked by Angelus is one of the best things I have ever imagined.

    Like

  75. [Note: T.G. posted this comment on April 10, 2014.]

    Idiotic idea… maybe. But it can also be looked at as a “I only need minions for a special task” type thing. I’ve only seen the minions around when angelus wants to end the world, or when they were trying to cure Drusilla. Passion didn’t have a special Idea on its mind besides torturing buffy and friends, and angelus wanted to do that himself. So while it can be a plot-hole, its an easily explained plot-hole. I personally try to give a mistake a worthy explaination, and if I can’t, then it will bother me. Maybe the minions simply weren’t there.

    Although I do have to admit, The whole “Coffee break” Thing was really funny 🙂

    Like

  76. [Note: Ali posted this comment on April 10, 2014.]

    I get what you mean about giving a mistake a worthy explanation so it doesn’t ruin an episode for you. For me, for some reason, this little inconsistency (and it is a VERY small one) just bothered me a lot the last time I watched this episode. It seems like lazy writing in an otherwise amazing episode to conveniently have all the vamps in the nest out except for the three key players.

    I suppose the most likely explanation is that they were out on a “break,” or a hunt. But, for all of them to leave at the same time, leaving all three of their bosses behind, one wheelchair bound, with a pissed-off slayer after them who knows where they nest, seems pretty stupid. It was no doubt a much easier scene to write and film without too many extra vampires around. I guess to me the way this scene was written more for convenience than continuity. Its not that big a deal though.

    Like

  77. [Note: T.G. posted this comment on April 10, 2014.]

    I guess it could be a case of lazy writing, but btvs, when looking at its plotting, is a mediocre show. When looked at through every thing else though, Its the best show there is (matter of opinion, I know, but still!)

    Like

  78. [Note: TheTad posted this comment on April 13, 2014.]

    Fantastic review on one of the best ever episodes. Loved the invitation/exclusion observation.

    The only thing I disagree on is the significance of the ‘This is where you get off’ – I don’t think that has any inure national sexual undertones at all. I don’t think it makes much sense for it to be a euphemism.

    Great review though – justice was done to the complexity of the episode

    Like

  79. [Note: Lydia posted this comment on May 7, 2014.]

    What makes this episode so great is the psychological horror of it. Hands down in my Top 5 Buffy episodes EVER. And maybe even my favorite one. As much as I hate Angelus, I think he is one of the best villians this show has ever had.
    That’s why I wish instead of boring apocalyptic plots, the show should’ve embraced more psychological torture rather than ‘its the end of the world ya-da ya-da’ deal. Psychological horror is the creepiest, most gut wrenching and sick genre that sticks with you. I think that’s what made Angelus’s presence on screen so compelling and creepy. And talk about poetic. Gah. This episode is simply a masterpiece. I think we should wave this in people’s faces when they hate on Buffy.

    It’s also interesting how much difference there is in Spike and Angelus. Spike enjoys the hunt and the challenge, but Angelus literally gets off on the grief, he toys with people’s emotions, plays by people’s weaknesses and really creatively and painstakingly takes the time to literally set up something to torture his victims with. This easily makes Angelus the crueler man. I also like that in the earlier episodes they keep mentioning how horrible Angelus truly is, but I never bought that the first time I watched the series I was all…Oh Angel’s like a cuddly Care-Bear with fangs! Ha! Boy was I wrong by the time Innocence and Passion rolled around. I like how this show doesn’t just talk on about something, but actually implements it in the form of action. We actually get to experience Angel’s dark side first hand and it turns out he’s one of the most sadistic and creepy villains out there! Makes for chilling television. I wish I could write villains half as good as whoever came up with Angelus.
    I also like the whole ‘A demon with the face of an Angel’ dealio.
    The Creep factor just sky rocketed, people!

    I do have one question. Didn’t Buffy un-invite Spike from her home in one of the later seasons? If that’s true, then it’s a plothole because here they state that they can’t be un-invited once already invited in.

    Like

  80. [Note: T.G. posted this comment on May 7, 2014.]

    There are spells that can keep invited vampires from coming in again, I think they used the same spell they used on angelus in this ep on spike in future eps.

    I agree with everything you just said though! But angelus does use psychological torture on buffy…. ALOT, sometimes the apocalyptic plots do kind of cheese season 2 up a bit. So it makes some of Angels torture tactics less powerful in retrospect. I wish Becoming part 2 would have just made angelus kidnap one of the scoobies, and had tortured one of them but had showcased the torture to the rest of the scoobies. I think it would have worked better. I think if becoming part 2 had done that, it could still have the same stakes as it did. Think about how terrified and angry we as an audience would be of angelus (and we already were from Passion). I think that would give buffy strength to kill angelus. Then we could have some nice follow through into season 3. Angel could come back in the middle of season 3 instead of the beginning, and then the rest…

    I know a lot of people would disagree with me, and im not saying they chose the wrong way, but just throwing in an alternative. I guess if it took that direction, we wouldn’t get a lot of the good stuff we DID actually get from season 3 so yea im probably wrong.

    Like

  81. [Note: Kyle posted this comment on May 7, 2014.]

    I think many of you are being too hard on the “apocalyptic” story plots. While they can be cheesy, they serve great importance to the overall themes of the show. We’re often faced with situations where we feel the world is crashing down on us (the end of the world) and this show liberalizes that, producing what I believe to be an effective metaphor.

    Like

  82. [Note: Kyle posted this comment on May 7, 2014.]

    I meant to say “literalizes” until I figured out that that’s not a word… Whoops! I meant to say the show converts our fears of a figurative end-of-the-world scenario into a literal one.

    Like

  83. [Note: Freudian Vampire posted this comment on May 7, 2014.]

    I’m of two minds. On the one hand, it’s true that end of the world plots are cliched, tired and overdone to the point where the show began mocking them as early as the third season – and Season 2 had built up enough stakes and momentum to make “Becoming” thrilling without needing to add the extra complication of Acathla.

    On the other hand, it’s clear when re-watching that Joss had the vision of that scene where Angel gets his soul and Buffy kills him from the moment he decided to introduce Angelus into the show, and working that into the story without the apocalypse would have been difficult. And it’s not as though Acathla came out of nowhere, exactly – the events of “I Only Have Eyes For You” were enough to convince me that psychotic stalker Angelus would go the extra mile and actually attempt to end it all. See comments on that review for elaboration.

    I do think there are some problems with “Becoming” and the end of Season 2 in general, but the apocalypse is not one of them.

    Like

  84. [Note: FlyingPenguin posted this comment on May 7, 2014.]

    Personally, I wouldn’t change a thing about “Becoming”–I’m pretty sure it’s my all-time favorite Buffy episode (or pair of episodes, really).

    Like

  85. [Note: Boscalyn posted this comment on May 7, 2014.]

    I rewatched this episode and was pleasantly surprised. I figured that I wouldn’t like the episode quite so much when removed from the context of innocence and a year of Jenny/Giles romance, but I still ended up crying for the entire damn episode.

    The scene where Giles comes across Jenny’s body is just AMAZING. You can SEE the exact moment his heart breaks, even as his face remains frozen in place. Anthony Head is the best actor ever, no contest.

    Two miscellaneous thoughts:

    1) Poor, poor Ty King… He writes one of the best episodes of the entire show, and whenever anyone talks about it they praise Joss’s scope and vision. I don’t think this is entirely Joss’s episode; King’s other episode is pretty similar in theme and has a heavy focus on the Jenny/Giles relationship, so it’s not a stretch to imagine he wrote the bulk of this episode.

    2) You know, I try to tell people that this show isn’t as totally 90’s as it might look, and then this episode has to go and end on a dramatic slo-mo shot of a floppy disk. AUGH!!!

    Like

  86. [Note: Lydia posted this comment on May 7, 2014.]

    I’d like to point out that I wasn’t bashing the apocalyptic plots at all, In fact, I think in ‘Becoming’ uses the end-of-the-world metaphor REALLY well. I simply stated that you can only do one thing so many times before it starts to become tiresome. An end of the world plot at the end of every season wasn’t necessary to the show, but at the same time, it added much needed flair and now it’s kind of a ‘Buffy’ thing. Thankfully, despite the cheese of it, Buffy knew how to implement these arcs really well which is what makes them work so well. The outcome of all these apocalypse plots turned out to be stellar after that. I was simply pointing out how well the whole psychological horror thing worked on this show.

    Also, personally, I don’t find the slo-mo floppy disk shot that bothersome. I think that Buffy has some 90’s stuff encroached around it, but it isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The fact that this show was filmed in the 90’s adds to it’s charm according to me. It makes BTVS all the more commendable. Remember, this was back when vampires weren’t a phenomenal craze, this was back when the special effects weren’t as good as they are now. Despite it’s flaws (cheesiness, bad effects, background music), I don’t think Buffy would’ve worked as well as it did if it had been aired during a different period. Plus, the effects, lighting and music all improved evidently by the end of this season and they carried that on for all the remaining seasons.

    Anyway, I talk too much. I’m done now! HAHAHA. 🙂

    Like

  87. [Note: Beatnik posted this comment on June 11, 2014.]

    I loved the stalking Buffy and her friends scenes. Very creepy. Angelus pulls off mean and creepy very well.

    Like

  88. [Note: Nebula Nox posted this comment on July 2, 2014.]

    It sort of amazes me that Giles would have to look up how to deinvite a vampire. One would think that this would be one of the most basic skills that Watchers learn.

    Like

  89. [Note: TheTad posted this comment on July 3, 2014.]

    It’s possibly the same as me cooking pasta. I know it takes 9 minutes but I always check the back of the box to make sure!

    Deinviting a vampire is probably even more important than perfectly cooked pasta. He probably knew pretty much what to do – the devil was in the details

    Like

  90. [Note: Nebula Nox posted this comment on July 3, 2014.]

    Actually Giles does not have the spell with him. He gets a book from Jenny Calendar with the information.

    I know that people, especially Watchers, should not be inviting vampires into their houses in the first place, yet on the other hand those tricky vampires would be trying to get into Watchers’ houses, so it seems as if this should belong to Watcher Basic Training.

    Like

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