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It’s ANOTHER two-parter! We just had one of those for episodes 10-11. Oh man, Buffy is getting storyline intensive and moving slightly away from the Monster Of The Week formula. Let’s see where these two go.
The episode starts off with a pretty obvious dream sequence from our lead character. Drusilla is creeping behind her in her home. Then she’s suddenly at The Bronze, where Willow has a monkey and everyone is dancing to slow, rhythmic music. Dru shows up and murders Angel.
A distraught Buffy wakes up and heads to Angel’s bachelor pad, where he is, of course, shirtless. Buffy is worried her dream will come true, but that doesn’t prevent the two of them from kissing a lot.
Buffy and Willow at school the next day are talking in network TV language about Angel and Buffy having sex soon. Buffy tells Willow to ask out Oz. Willow does end up talking to him and alluding to her desire to go out with him. They agree to go to Buffy’s 17th birthday party as a date.
Elsewhere, Xander asks Cordelia if she would like to similarly attend the party as a couple. Cordy lets him know she is too embarrassed of him for that. First good decision you have made in a few episodes, Cordy! Keep it up.
In the Evil Underground Lair, Spike is recuperating in a wheelchair, and his face is burnt. Drusilla is planning a party, though she goes into typical Juliet Landau Acting Mode so she can LOSE IT at the sight of some flowers. She does get a mystery gift as the scene ends, though…
Buffy gets pissy because aspects of her dream do start to come true: her mom drops a plate after asking Buffy if she’s ready for driving. I’m so excited for all the other aspects of the dream to start popping up! The weird dancing. The monkey! Dru attacking Angel! Surely the show won’t leave me in the lurch…
The ghost who taught dead Patrick Swayze how to move things while incorporeal in Ghost is here! He is playing Ms. Calendar’s Romanian uncle who wants to know why she hasn’t been torturing Angel. But he will always be “The Ghost Who Taught Patrick Swayze…” to me. She’s been too busy learning how to lift a penny, guy! Leave her be!
Calendar shows up to drive Buffy somewhere, but they encounter some vampires… among them, Dalton stealing a big box. Buffy brawls with the minions, and they fight their way into Buffy’s own surprise party in The Bronze. This is how Oz discovers vampires exist and, presumably, becomes part of the gang. He’s is super chill about it (“this explains so much”) because the writers of this show have NO TIME to deal with this angle they fucking created right now.
Buffy opens the box that Dalton was trying to steal, and a living arm jumps out and attacks her. Giles figures out it’s part of THE JUDGE, an unkillable monster who had been dismembered ages ago.
The who now?
Why is every single threat in this show the Biggest Challenge In The World? Every time the bad guys bust out a new menace, it’s the same “I can’t believe they’d do THAT” song and dance from Giles. What is the point of having big guns if you don’t fire them? You should just be preparing for the worst beasts the vampires have access to! All the time! You are a terrible Watcher!
(Also, speaking of previous Worst Evils Ever, what happened to The Order Of Terracotta? Why doesn’t Spike summon them back into play to fulfill the contract?)
Calendar wants Angel to take the arm of The Judge far, far away. To some remote corner of the world. Without his arm, he can’t be reassembled.
His arm by itself was somewhat challenging.
So the vampires could still have a one-armed Judge, right?
That’s somewhat threatening.
They should get their hands on his leg! So His Name Is Judge just has to hop around after Buffy!
Anyway, as he prepares to leave, Angel gives Buffy a promise ring because it was the 90’s, and that’s what you did with someone you have dated for three weeks! A slew of vamps attack and chuck Buffy into the bay (Oh yeah, I forgot to mention: Angel was about to get on a ship). Angel dives in after her, and the villains have the arm back!
At Dru’s party, all of the pieces of The Judge have been gathered. There were… only 5 pieces, I think. You would think the ancient forces that defeated him could have been a LITTLE more thorough. But that’s Monday Morning Dismembering. The Judge emerges and obliterates Dalton. It turns out his power is to burn away the humanity of his victims, so anyone not wholly evil dies at his touch. Aw, Dalton had promise to be reformed, guys! This show gave us literally zero clues to that.
At Angel’s basement, our heroic vamp tells Buffy he loves her. Jerk, she said that to you, like, 6 episodes ago! It is implied that they have sex. Angel wakes up in a fit and runs out into the rain in agony…
At the lair, Dru has a meltdown fit while Spike talks to Judge about how long it will take the latter to regain full power. Dru regains her composure and smiles.
Angel recovers from his own fit as a woman approaches him and asks if he needs help.
Naw. You ignore strange men having convulsions in alleys, lady. You go the other way. How did you make it to whatever age you are? You’re bad at being a woman in America.
Angel attacks and feeds off of her. That’s what you get! Have better instincts in your next life.
Angel heads into Spike’s lair, and The Judge grabs him, but… there is no humanity to burn away! Also, you know he is evil because he smokes now. He has as plan to get rid of Buffy…
Some stuff happens with the team, and Willow catches Xander and Cordy kissing in the library. Oh right, that “Willow pines for Xander” sub-plot I thought we resolved, like, 8 episodes ago. She rushes off, infuriated at him. He catches up to her and tries to sort it out. Willow notes that he would rather be with “someone you hate instead of with me”. It’s actually a pretty potent line from her, I’ll give writing credit.
Buffy heads to Angel’s pad where he is, again, shirtless. I’m sitting here about to cross 200 pounds for the first time in my life and eating peanut butter M&M’s, AND I DON’T NEED THIS FROM YOU, SHOW.
Angel belittles her and insults her for giving it up so easily, leaving her a crying mess as he heads out.
We see Calendar and Patrick Swayze’s mentor again, and we get the “Angel can’t be happy” backstory. I legit thought it was just that he couldn’t get laid, which was why I was kind of surprised that the aforementioned implied sex was actual sex. I thought Angel knew he couldn’t do that, but I guess not. Like, I never watched this show (obviously; that’s the point of this series), but I really thought the return of Angelus played out a lot differently. Like… he KNEW he couldn’t do it, but for Buffy he had to TRY. Nope. It’s all a big surprise to everyone. Huh.
Willow and Xander are putting together a plan on how to defeat J. Reinhold when the power goes out at the school. Angel shows up and grabs Willow, threatening to kill her, but Buffy appears and hears his whole “I’m not Angel anymore” spiel, and this show simply hates the drama of our heroine not knowing a threat is a threat. We get ONE SCENE of her not knowing Angel was a bad guy so he can kinda mess with her head. After that, she gets immediately clued in.
Still, one scene. That’s more than The Anointed ever got.
Angel shoves Buffy away from him and flees into the night. Oh, Angel has to take a penalty to all his INT rolls now that he’s a baddie, okay.
While talking with the group about Angelus’ return, Willow pieces together that Buffy and Angel banged, with that being the impetus for his change. Xander comes up with a plan to defeat Judge, and it involves Cordy and driving… BUT NOT CORDY DRIVING, COME ON, SHOW!
(Though Giles does initially suggest it until Xander says his plan requires a larger vehicle than hers)
They settle on Oz’ van, which no longer is British, I guess? And they keep talking about either needing an army or a weapon not forged by man. So I figure they are either going to beat him with a very large rock, or… oh man, they are going to go get the Invisible Kids army from season one!
Angelus returns to The Bad Guy Hideout That Everyone Knows Where It Is, and Spike–the king of failing to pull the trigger–berates him for failing to pull the trigger. Angelus wants to do to Buffy what he did to Drusilla (mentally and emotionally torture her, then turn her).
Buffy takes off her promise ring and has a cry, then she has another dream and WAIT A MINUTE. From her first two dreams, the ONLY thing that came true was her mom dropping the plate! Why did we spend so much time with her worrying about her dreams?! Where was Willow’s monkey, god damn it?!
Buffy pieces shit together and assaults Ms. Calendar in class, right in front of some background student characters! Man, remember in the John Ritter episode when everyone was talking about her behind her back for being a murderer? I bet this develops into absolutely nothing!
And SERIOUSLY, where is the Principal character when it would make sense for him to appear?! Buffy gets arrested, no sign of him. Attacks a teacher, no sign of him. But he’ll show up three episodes from now and be like “I NEED YOU TO MOW THIS LAWN FOR OUR EASTER PARADE, OR I’LL KNOW YOU ARE A BAD EGG” or something.
Xander’s plan involves sneaking onto a military base with Cordy and pretending he is on leave and needs a private area to ravage her. Another soldier lets him head into some building. Xander is pretty good at military lingo, and he explains that is residual from the Halloween episode when the costume possessed him. Cordelia asks him if something makes him think of sex. His response: “I’m 17; looking at linoleum makes me want to have sex”.
You realize that line of dialogue makes no sense because Xander as a character has no frame of reference for what being, say, 42 is like, right?
(It’s like sitting here and eating way too many Peanut Butter M&Ms and then having to take an antacid because you are too many Peanut Butter M&Ms, by the way)
It’s a line of dialogue that works to laugh at the character, but comes across as having way-too-clearly been written by a writer making fun of having been a teenager.
Anyway, Xander stole something from Army, and I sure do hope it’s a stuffed seal!
Outside of all of this, Willow basically throws herself at Oz, but he sees she is just doing it to make Xander jealous. He tells her he will wait until she wants him for him.
Buffy, Giles, and Calendar head off to Uncle Gypsy’s house to see if he can reinstate the curse on Angel, but Angelus got their first and killed him! They then head to the vampires’ very public secret base, but they are all gone (save the banged-up Spike, who is amusingly reduced to hiding from them).
The vamp squad takes Judge to the mall to kill a whole bunch of people, but BUFFY SHOWS UP WITH A BAZOOKA AND JUST FUCKING BAZOOKAS HIM IN THE MIDDLE OF A CROWDED MALL.
In a show that had earned more of my admiration, I’d think that was a rad-as-hell scene. But for Buffy The Vampire Slayer, it’s just another twig of lunacy to throw on the bonfire of events that will never have any repercussions.
For murdering a dude.
And now she shows up at a mall, shooting a bazooka at people. I’m pretty damned sure malls had security cameras in 1998!
Judge is back in pieces–despite the fact that I’m pretty sure bazookas don’t occur in nature–which the Scoobies run around to box back up. Meanwhile, Buffy and Angelus have a Very Dramatic Wet Fight Under SprinklersTM. Angelus taunts her that she can’t kill him, and she responds with “give me time”. Then he runs away.
And then this clusterfuck of a two-parter ends with Buffy’s mom giving her a cupcake, but Buffy refusing to make a wish. Oh yeah, no mention of Buffy being ultra-grounded or whatever because, let’s be honest, this show has a worse memory for continuity than Vince McMahon.
So it’s taken me until this far into the show to realize if I splice in images and memes from other, better shows, it makes me enjoy Buffy… more? Or less? Something, I’m sure.
And this is where the Angelus arc officially begins, huh? It’s not particularly auspicious, though to be fair, as noted, it played out a lot differently than I thought it did. For some reason, I thought Angel knew he couldn’t bone, and I thought the curse was specific to sex, not just… “being happy”. So see? I’m LEARNING.
I wonder what I’ll learn next time!