Posted by: thebuffyrewatch | July 3, 2011

Robin’s Review: S2, E19 – I Only Have Eyes For You

Synopsis: The Sadie Hawkins dance is approaching but Buffy says she won’t be dating again ever. Strange paranormal incidents begin occurring around the school indicating that something weird is going on. Giles thinks it might be Jenny trying to contact him. Buffy isn’t so sure and eventually she and Willow discover that it is the ghost of James a student who killed his lover (a teacher) and himself in 1955. Random male and female staff and students keep acting the tragedy out. Buffy thinks James doesn’t deserve forgiveness for what he did but feels drawn to him. After a failed exorcism Buffy heads into school alone only to be confronted by Angel.

The Good: It’s no surprise to see the writers come up with an effective and interesting way to address the Buffy-Angel love story. But it is a surprise how cleverly they weave a ghost story on top of it.

Since “Innocence” we have seen Buffy go through a lot. First she had to deal with the denial and shock over Angel losing his soul. Then she had to accept that he wasn’t coming back and now she would have to fight an evil demon wearing his face. Then she had to deal with the tragedy of Jenny’s death and accept that it was her responsibility to kill him. You might think that that was the end of the story and all that remained was their final confrontation. But no.

The writers take it one step further. Now that Buffy accepts she has to kill Angelus she begins to think about what this means for Angel. He will die too when she kills his vampire body. Now the feelings of guilt she has perhaps not accessed begin to hit her. If she hadn’t slept with him he would still be here and not the demon. She feels like she killed him. It’s a perspective that I hadn’t considered and I expect it hit many viewers what a clever, plausible and sad layer it was to add to Buffy’s emotional workload.

That emotion was then transferred into how Buffy handled the latest monster-of-the-week. The creepy paranormal activity built steadily as the truth became clearer. It’s a testament to the strength of the Buffy-Angel story that their showdown didn’t feel as contrived as it obviously was. Again the writers cleverly use Angel’s vampire body to find a way round the gun shot, which doesn’t kill him, and allows him to forgive James and free his spirit from school.

The final scene was excellent too as Spike reveals he is fully healed and ready to do something about Angel.

The Bad: Now I can see that Willow teaching a class is ridiculous. Especially when Giles is apparently available and could at least be present. I had no problem with Giles thinking that Jenny was the ghost but his insistence was almost played for laughs which felt odd. Similarly Buffy was one-eyed about James’ guilt in a way which lacked in subtlety.

As I have already hinted at, the story had to move a lot of pieces into place to get to where it wanted to go and at times it did not do so in a seamless way. James’ power over the school kept escalating to freakish levels to ward off all the students and faculty. There seemed no special reason why Angel would have been at school either and so the episode did feel forced in certain ways.

The Unknown: Would Spike kill Angel? Once more (203) we see that Snyder and the police know they are on a hellmouth and are keeping it from the wider public. It will be interesting to see if those reasons are fleshed out in the future. Did they cancel the Sadie Hawkins dance because of the snakes? It makes sense that they would I just don’t remember anyone saying that.

Best Moment: I don’t think there can be any other scene but Buffy now taking James’ role and Angel playing Grace. It plays out as if Angel’s soul was forgiving Buffy for what happened and it was a very clever piece of writing.

The Bottom Line: The contrived nature of the story prohibits it from being a classic. However the writing was very clever and the emotional depth of the Buffy-Angel story is truly impressive.



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