Posted by: thebuffyrewatch | May 22, 2011

Cordia’s Review: S2, E13 – Surprise (1)

Surprise
Season 2, Episode 13
Original airing: 1/19/1998

My Rating: 68

The Good: Spike and Drusilla are back in their switched roles to wreck havoc on Buffy’s 17th birthday. It’s nice to see these villains back as they are always entertaining and actually threatening to Buffy. The big implication in Buffy’s dreams is that Drusilla will kill Angel. This is a pretty significant threat to Buffy and lends credence to her fear of losing Angel.

Their relationship has been building steadily over the last few episodes. The step it takes in this episode feels pretty natural, although a little weird when you think of the ages of the participants. But it’s played very well and tastefully. Buffy is afraid she’ll lose Angel at any moment, to Drusilla or distance, and wants to act on her feelings, something anyone who’s ever been in love can probably sympathize with.

And the fears appear justified. Spike and Drusilla have reassembled an ancient and powerful demon called the Judge, who can burn the humanity out of someone. Apparently, soon he’ll be able to do this from a distance, which could wreck some serious havoc in the world of humans. It’s also shown in this episode that the Judge can kill vampires who exhibit human feeling, which makes him a danger to Angel as well.

Jenny turns out to be more than she first appeared. It’s revealed in this episode that she’s part of the gypsy tribe which originally cursed Angel with the return of his soul. She’s supposed to be keeping an eye on him and making sure he’s miserable. Now, she’s failed in her duty by allowing him to find happiness with Buffy. The flow of the show underlines her new secret when she intercepts Buffy at the library. She could be taking Buffy anywhere, but she ends up taking Buffy to her party. It’s innocuous, but it does illustrate how the audience can no longer trust Jenny’s motives.

Oz also becomes initiated into the Scooby Gang in this episode when he sees Buffy dust a vampire. His response to the existence of the supernatural is very in character – “actually, it explains a lot.” As always, he and Willow are very cute as they ask each other out on their first date.

The Bad: There’s nothing I would say is really bad in this episode. But it is the first part of a two-part arc, so the drama takes it’s time to ramp up and then suddenly stops in a cliff-hanger. While this is normal, it didn’t add to my score of the episode.

My only complaint with the episode is that there are a few too many Angel and Buffy kissing scenes. We know they’re passionate and in love. We saw three or four of these in the last episode – Bad Eggs (S2E12). It’s getting a bit boring.

Favorite Moment: As ever, I love seeing Oz and Willow interact. Their conversation where he plans to ask her out and then she asks him to Buffy’s party is full of their classic off-kilter comments and flow.

The Bottom Line: A lot of good stuff happens in this episode. We have the reintroduction of Spike and Drusilla in altered roles, a potentially devastating new villain with the Judge and a very interesting twist in an existing character with Jenny. Angel and Buffy’s relationship finally moves forward, leading to the cliff hanger.

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