Posted by: thebuffyrewatch | November 5, 2011

Robin’s Review: S3, E10 – Amends

Synopsis: Angel is tormented by apparitions of those he killed. Buffy then begins to appear in his dreams. The gang research the possibilities and believe that he is being tormented by the First Evil. The First pushes Angel to lose his soul and kill Buffy. He fights the temptation and chooses to die instead. Elsewhere Joyce invites Faith to spend Christmas with them and Willow and Oz get back together.

The Good: The Angel-centric episode that the story has been crying out for finally arrives. This was thorough in answering the obvious question about him – why did he come back?

The answer it would seem is some tug of war between good and evil. The gang deduce that the First Evil was responsible for bringing him back from a hell dimension to Earth. However when Angel chooses death rather than becoming evil again the sun doesn’t rise. Or at least it is hidden behind the snow. Such a miracle, in Sunny California, strongly implies that a force for good agrees with Buffy and wants to see Angel go on living.

It’s hard to argue with such a general answer to the question. I don’t think the specifics matter. The key for Angel’s character is that he will now fight for good to redeem himself for all the years he was evil. As we saw last week, without Buffy this change wouldn’t have taken place. She is the catalyst that gives him a reason to go on living.

Their confrontation addressed the emotions that have been buried since he returned. I thought the temptations he faced were well explored. The idea that he could actually be tempted into turn evil was intriguing. It would be a way to stop feeling guilty and miserable and it’s easy to imagine the human weakness that could lead you to see that as a solution. He was also attacked from the other angle where his love for Buffy made him want to grab the very happiness that would simultaneously comfort him and end his life. Buffy’s love for Angel is overwhelming and leaves her unable to move on. The repulsion and attraction that they feel cannot go on forever.

The scene where Angel comes to Giles for help was very good. As you would expect Giles overcame his hatred of the demon to help the man. And Angel came off well by not telling Giles who he could see over his shoulder. The scenes of torment were well executed and confirmed our picture of Angelus as a demon who enjoyed human misery as much as their blood.

Oz and Willow remain the cutest of the cute couples. Her attempt to make things better between them with sex was well written. As usual he understands her motivations clearly and refuses to jump ahead to somewhere they aren’t ready to go yet. Even Xander was being mature here by offering to help Buffy out and turning the other cheek to Cordelia’s insults.

The writers love their double entendre moments but it’s hard to beat Joyce discussing Christmas decorations and saying “So, Angel’s on top again?” I also liked the call back to “Band Candy” with Joyce stubbornly refusing to invite Giles over.

The Bad: The idea of Sunnydale getting an unexpected white Christmas which happens to save Angel’s life is a gooey ending. I don’t mind that. However it’s hard not to be slightly miffed at the sheer cheesiness of the joy of all our characters at this magical moment. The direction seems to think that there’s no point in being ironic at a moment like this and instead goes full steam ahead into the cliché of happiness that it conjures up. It’s not a big deal to me but I don’t blame anyone for rolling their eyes at such silliness on a show which works so hard to always laugh at itself.

The Unknown: This was paced differently to pretty much every other episode of Buffy. The torturous visions and dreams which Angel endured were repetitive and the sense that he might actually give in to temptation wasn’t well established. I don’t mind a quiet Christmas episode, especially one that answers such important questions but again I don’t blame anyone who felt this was dull.

Is Oz too perfect a boyfriend? I noted last season that his amazing ability to always say and do the right thing with Willow can make him seem a bit too manufactured. Here he reads her so well and talks her down so beautifully that I can’t help but see him as a bit of a female fantasy rather than an actual guy. I wouldn’t say it had crossed a line yet where I have a problem with him as a character but I find him the least convincing of all our regulars.

Best Moment: Giles seeing Angel again and reacting with that assertive tone that he saves for such moments.

The Bottom Line: I think this episode was needed as it addressed a bunch of questions that have been hanging since Angel returned. As an actual TV episode though it was slow and the ending didn’t try to hide how silly it was.

64/100

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Responses

  1. Great podcast, but once in a while you guys completely miss the boat. The fact that snow in southern California is almost impossible is the whole point of this episode.

    The snowstorm is clearly Divine Intervention. It is the Powers That Be giving Angel an unambiguous sign that he *can* make amends for his past as Angelus, that Buffy is right and the First is wrong.

    It *is* an outright miracle. And the episode would be much worse without it. Without it, this would just be Angel moping about his past for thirty minutes. And nobody needs more of that.


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