Written and Directed by Joss Wheadon: Innocence

This is one of the series best episodes, and the first episode that really rose the stakes

The episode starts with  the villians discussing their plans. Dru says she is naming the stars. The judge is funny and awkward  The first shot is interesting in that it is a 30s + shot that is mostly static. Dru collapses and has a vision of Angel. Buffy wakes up and there is a thunderstorm outside as Angel is strugling. He then stands up and a smoking woman aproaches him. Angel kills her and drinks from herThere is a great shot of Angel blowing  her smoke from her throat.

Buffy sneaks home and there is a kind of awkward scene with Joyce, where she says something seems different about her. Back at the library everyone is nervous. There are many good, in character moments in library. Xander imedialtly wants to go and help, despite not knowing much about the situation. Him and cordelia barb. Giles and Jenny are also more cautious, but Xander and Willow go until Buffy enters the library. She wonders about Angel, and goes to class.

Spike and Dru are talking about their plan when Angelus walks in, quoting the Grapes of Wrath speech. Almost imediatley you feel as if you are watching a different actor. When playing evil Borenaz just has such a great presence. He actually is a great actor, and this arc was one of the greatest decicions the show ever did. The judge tries to kill him, but there is no humanity left in him. These are fantastic villians and it is great to have them all in a room together so they can interact.

At the Library there is some good ensemble staging of the group debating what to do. Xander goes to apologize to Cordy, and Willow catches them kissing.It is somewhat hard to buy Willows reaction, and some of what she said does seem harsh in her hatred, but we do get the great “You were the treasurer” line.

Next we get one  of the best scenes  of the entire series where Buffy sees goes to see Angel. This scene is heartbreaking because Buffy still doesn’t know that Angel is evil, which he uses to humiliate her. This scene is so cruel, and Gellar deserved an Emmy for her performance. I don’t like the gypsy scenes, but here Jenny finds out Angel is back.

At the school at night Xander and willow are in the school,when the lights go out. Angelus grabs Willow and is very scary. Jenny warns them before they can find out. Buffy saves them and Angelus kisses her and throws her. Angel says some contradicting things, “I am Angel, at last”, “Dream on school girl your boyfriend is dead. This adds some complexity to the soul question which has been argued everywhere else. I definitely feel that the person they were before informs the vampire and is part of their personality.

Spike complains that Angelus did not kiss Buffy and he explains “to kill this girl you have to love her”. This is the most common mistake big bads make on this show,  but it also shows just how twisted he is. It also nicely foreshadows spikes ark later on.

Buffy goes home and cries. I think this hardest she cries the whole show, and she is great. After she falls asleep she has a dream showing that Jenny is not who she says she is. Normally I don’t like information revealed in dream, but it already is well established that she has prophetic dreams, and it is good writing at this point for her to trust them. cr

Buffy storms in to school and grabs Jenny in front of a class.  Jenny explains the curse, and Giles looks hurt by her betrayal. She offers to take him to her uncle, but Whedon fakes out the audience by having Angel show up and kill him. One of the few flaws in this episode is the question of how Angelus could get in without an invite.

Meanwhile the other scoobies launch there plan to stop the judge-break into a military base. There is a good tracking shot that follows Xander and Cordelia into the base. There is some great dialogue, as Xander convinces the guard to let them in, and the famous “looking at linoleum makes me want to have sex”. They take the weapon

In yet another great scene Willow asks Oz if he wants to make out. This is the scene that made me really love Oz , as he knows she is only doing it to make Xander jealous and says he wants the moment to be special.

There is some debate about whether or not the scooby gang was too harsh on Jenny. Although it is nice to see the level of Giles trust in Buffy, he does seem very unsympathetic to her issues.

THe ending of this episode is fantastic. The judge  kills a guy , as the gang arives. He connects to everyone and is about to kill them when  Buffy shoots an arrow at him. He claims “No weapon forged can kill me,” when Buffy pulls out a rocket launcher. This scene is perfect, and symbolizes Buffy taking back her identity as the slayer . The judge is killed, and she goes to fight Angel. This is a great fight, very raw. This should be emotional and the water from the sprinkler system makes it even better. Buffy can’t bring herself to kill Angel, but she instead kicks in the balls at full strength.

I Love Giles’s scene with Buffy at the end of the episode. He is so comforting and easily forgives her. I like the final scene with Joyce, but it is confusing because her birthday was several days ago. Still I love the shot on the couch.

Over all this is a almost flawless episode of television. This is where the consequences of everything before finally come back and the characters have to face them. The whole season has been building to this moment. Whedon is often sadistic to his audience, and loves playing with out emotions which sometimes works and sometimes does not. Here it is absolutely necessary as the bad choices the characters have been making comeback to haunt them all at once. It also has one of the most empowering moments, as Buffy grabs a rocket launcher and kills the judge.

Scenic Routes

I had a hard time deciding which scene to describe, the devastating scene in Angel’s apartment, or the brilliant scene with the rocket launcher. I finally decided to describe the earlier scene.

Whedon tortures us first by playing “Close your Eyes”, the Bangel theme. Buffy starts to go home, but then turns and tries one last time to see if Angel is home. For a second the music almost seems to comfort us. When Buffy sees him she takes runs and hugs him. Angelus at first talks to her, which initially confuses us as to why he is not killing her. He then takes the opportunity to mock her for her preformance makes her feel like she messed up.

It is astonishing how, in just a season and half, how much David Borenaz has grown as an actor. He is incredible here, and you never feel as you are watching Angel. Just the way he carries the character is 100% believable.

What Angelus deliberately chooses the most cruel thing he can think of. Whedon says he was shocked at what he had written. What makes it even worse is how it seems like something might say in real life.  It one of the best dramatic scenes of the series.

 

93/100

 

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