Posted by: thebuffyrewatch | June 19, 2011

Robin’s Review: S2, E17 – Passion

Buffy the Vampire Slayer – 217 – Passion

Synopsis: Angel sketches Buffy while she sleeps, kills Willow’s fish and stalks Joyce. Giles searches for a way to uninvited him from their homes while Jenny looks for a way to restore his soul. Drusilla senses something about Jenny and so Angel comes to the school to kill her. He leaves the body in Giles’ bed and Giles heads to the factory seeking vengeance.

The Good: This is an exceptional episode. It achieves so much, so efficiently and leaves me emotionally affected even upon rewatch.

It’s all very well to talk about the people Angelus killed but until you actually see one it doesn’t hit you. I’m not sure there has ever been as emotive a villain as Angel is here. Everything he does has a double cruelty. Not only is he stalking, scaring and then killing Buffy’s friends but he is doing it all with her boyfriend’s face. The man outside the window staring in at their world of pain looks the same as the man who a few weeks ago loved and protected them.

The whole episode built so perfectly one moment on top of another. At first they are scared of what he might do. Then he escalates things to killing fish and revealing things to Joyce. In the meantime Jenny and Giles are being reunited and she is looking for the cure. Then comes the climactic scene where he kills her. Again he taunts her for so long that you think she might get away but no, she can’t. The two scenes that follow were utterly tragic as first Giles ascends the stairs to see her dead body and then Angel watches Buffy and Willow weeping at the news. Giles then rushes to kill Angel and Buffy is forced to come to his rescue and cries over his body saying “I can’t do this alone.”

One, two, three, four absolutely gut punching scenes in a row which drive home the true horror of the situation. Each one was a masterclass of exploiting the moment. Jenny not realising Angel is in the room until she looks up from the printer. Giles’ facial expressions moving from anticipation to horror to shock. Angel’s dead eyed smile as Buffy crumples in a heap. And finally Buffy clutching Giles desperate not to lose the other man in her life. That one finally brought tears to my eyes so crushing was the dynamic the writers had created.

Taking one step back and looking at the plot this was a brilliant piece of writing as well. On the podcast we have complained about the lack of follow up to Angel’s turn to the dark side and really, you couldn’t ask for any more than this. Angel is so evil and vile here that I think it puts you firmly behind Buffy as she now prepares to kill him. It also escalates the threat level where now perhaps no character is safe. Then there is the “cure” which Jenny popped onto the floppy disk which lies on the floor. It’s such a tantalising cliff hanger and of course added to the horrible injustice of her murder.

The supporting characters all shone brightly as well. It’s easy to forget how good Spike can be but now we see the boiling frustration and anger he feels at Angel usurping his role. It’s not just jealousy either, Spike believes in confronting slayers and killing them. He doesn’t see the value in tormenting one and risking his life in the process. Willow too had a fine episode showing her impressive range. At first she was as adorable as ever when fretting over her role as substitute teacher, then she looked legitimately spooked by the murder of her fish and finally she wept bitter tears for Jenny. Xander finally got to say ‘I told you so’ about Angel with justifiable and believable anger. Giles and Jenny were both excellent of course, the last of their scenes together being just as good as their first. Giles’ facial expressions were peerless once he realised what Angel had done. Finally Joyce and Buffy had ‘the’ talk about sex which was another impressive layer to the complex story of her life.

Finally the dialogue throughout the episode was spectacular. With all those character moments and the plotting it might seem needless to talk more about how well written this was but seriously the dialogue was amazing. Xander spouted two amusing meta jokes, first trying to shoo other students out of the library and then outrageously agreeing that Buffy’s mum should be kept in the dark because “the more people who know the secret, the more it cheapens it for the rest of us.” He and Cordelia also share an awesome gag about her inviting Angel into her car. Xander quips that this means she will have to give him and his friends’ rides whenever they want “and those guys never chip in for gas.” Later on Cordelia stunningly announces that “I actually had to talk my Grandmother into switching cars with me last night.” In making the wheelchair-bound Spike feel useless Angel comes out with a beauty when he says “maybe next time I’ll bring you with me Spike. Might come in handy if I need a really good parking space.”

But on the serious side the lines were just as good. Angel makes sure to tell Jenny that the Orb breaks so easily because of that “shoddy Gypsy craftsmanship.” He also asks Buffy is she is going “to let your old man just burn?” when Giles is in danger. Again it’s so well written because it takes advantage of what Angel knows about Buffy’s relationship with Giles to make the line more personal like that.

The Bad: Nothing really though I suppose if they found a dead woman in your bed you would not be done with police questioning so quickly.

The Unknown: Though I can’t remember Giles inviting Angel into his home. Though it’s not implausible that he did.

Best Moment: In a way I would still have been happy if the episode had ended on Angel staring through the window at the result of his handiwork. It was such a wonderful moment in capturing the utter cruelty of the demon.

The Bottom Line: In every way this was a spectacular achievement. The writing, acting and emotions on display were exceptional.

94/100

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Responses

  1. Definitely my favourite episode- pitch perfect performances, writing which leaved forwards in maturity ,and absolutely crushing scenes every time.

  2. Wow! This is the first of your podcasts that I have listened to, and really, I’m impressed. I agree wholeheartedly with your review. Jenny is my favorite character, and Passion is my favorite episode. I just recently discovered podcasts, and this one is my favorite that I have found. I have only listened to your Passion podcast so far, but I will be tuning in!
    I am a devoted Calendiles (Giles/Jenny – Calendiles is a new word them) fan, and I love all of Jenny’s appearances. I am especially looking forward to your review of Amends. I like that episode, aside from the horror that is Angel’s accent and the atrocity that is Buffy’s bangs. Keep these coming, and great work!


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