Posted by: thebuffyrewatch | November 5, 2011

Cordia’s Review: S3, E10 – Amends

Season 3, Episode 10
Original airing: 12/15/1998

My Rating: 54

The Good: The show finally addresses Angel’s mysterious return from the hell dimension. It’s been completely ignored up to this point, so I’m glad they finally tackled it. The show presents two possibilities here: one, we still don’t know why he’s back and two, The First Evil brought him back. The First, played wonderfully by RobiaLaMorte in the guise of Jenny Calendar, takes credit for it, but Buffy points out that this may not be true. Regardless, it’s an interesting thought that Angel is still considered a playing piece in the battle of Good vs. Evil. Becoming Parts 1 and 2 (S2E21, S2E22) was very open about Angel’s place on the board. Whistler mentions how he always assumed Angel would be a force for good, but he could obviously fall on the side of evil. It’s another hint at how important free will can be.

The First is an interesting villain. It’s always fun to see Buffy frustrated by something she can’t physically fight. She even yells at Giles in this episode to give her something she can pummel. It was also thrilling to see The First posing as Angelus’ victims, including Jenny. It made very clear just how cruel and happy Angel was when he didn’t have a soul. In many ways, being Angelus was a much easier and more enjoyable life for him. The temptations presented by The First are pretty reasonable and it’s a mark of Angel’s character that he refuses to give in despite the emotional pressure he’s undergoing. I appreciated his final decision to kill himself to avoid causing any more pain.

This is all neatly wrapped around some wonderful humor centered on Christmas. Joyce was particularly enjoyable in this episode with her unintentional double entendre of Angel on top and her complete refusal to invite Giles to Christmas Eve. I also enjoyed the little moments between Faith and Buffy. We haven’t seen Faith in a while and it was interesting to see that her budding relationship with Buffy has gone drastically south. When Buffy arrives, Faith assumes it has to be about a monster. She also initially lies, very badly, to avoid accepting Buffy’s invitation. I liked that she eventually came around and then agreed to protect Joyce when Buffy had to leave.

The Bad: I’m glad the show settled Willow and Oz’s relationship in this episode. I can recall high school love being pretty fluid and the break up, get back together dynamic was displayed here. What bothered me was Oz’s handling of the sex scene. I like that he turned her down because it wasn’t the right time for them, but the way he did it was too pat. Lately, Oz has come across more and more as just The Perfect Boyfriend for Shy and Inexperience Willow than Oz. I don’t feel like he’s a separate character so much as an extension of Willow. This is especially disappointing in the light of how well defined the other characters are.

Xander was also disappointing in this episode. He goes from blatantly pointing out yet again that Angelus killed Jenny to wanting to help free him from The First. Absolutely no real explanation is given for this change of heart. He just kind of shrugs and says, whatever. One could presume it’s because he doesn’t want to risk Angel becoming Angelus again. But I think when a character trait is so ingrained, as is Xander’s hatred of Angel, it should be explained if the character suddenly decides to turn around and do the opposite.

I was also confused and disappointed by the resolution with The First, who apparently decided to just give up and go away. When Buffy confronts her, The First rattles on about how evil she is and how she’s everywhere, then she bursts into a ghost-like apparition and disappears. Is that it? She doesn’t appear to Angel again and he no longer seems tormented. It’s a question for the future, but it sure seems like she gave up pretty easily.

Finally, I was extremely disappointed in the show’s ending. A miraculous snowy Christmas morning in southern California to save the day?Really? Even the weather man comments that it’s never snowed in Sunnydale. Since there was no explanation for this, it just came across as ludicrous to me. Again, I suppose we can presume that some force of good wanted Angel to live and so prevented the sun from shining, but I don’t think it worked here. The scene was getting pretty intense between Buffy and Angel to have it end with awestruck snow gazing from all the Scoobies. I just couldn’t suspend my disbelief this far.

Favorite Moment: Angel goes to Giles for help. Giles, being the man he is, overcomes his revulsion to attempt to help him, but only at crossbow point. The show plays this moment well with Giles accepting the insanity of it all with humor and courage. I also appreciated that Angel didn’t blurt out that he could see Jenny. That would have been very painful for Giles and probably have changed the flow of the episode. I don’t think Giles would have been at all keen to help after that.

The Bottom Line: This episode needed to happen for the mythology of the show. Overall, I enjoyed the story, but the ending was too much to swallow.


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