Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Surprise / Innocence   Rewatch 
April 8, 2015 11:08 PM - Season 2, Episode 13 - Subscribe

As Buffy's 17th birthday approaches Drusilla has her own party plans with one very special guest requiring some assembly: The Judge. When Angel's plan to leave town with one of the blue body parts fails, he and Buffy regroup and finally sleep together. The act gives Angel a moment of true happiness and the curse that restored his soul is broken. The once again evil Angelus joins up with Drusilla, and Buffy must prepare to stop the Judge even if it means killing the man she loves. Secrets and betrayals also abound elsewhere as Xander and Cordelia's romance is discovered and Jenny proves to have a deeper purpose in Sunnydale.
posted by yellowbinder (27 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
So a confession here. First time round I really disliked this episode. It's tonally quite moody, and focussed on the romance and then heartbreak between Buffy and Angel, with the obvious high point of the exploding Judge to lift everything up. What can I say? I was a teenage boy and not a fan of the romance it captures here. Part of me still shies away from the intense feeling that Buffy has for Angel, someone who is much, much older than her, but with some critical distance, it works really well. Buffy feels that passion of first love, where everything is critically important. I think key to this is Bufy and Willow talking about her planning to sleep with Angel, and both of them blown away by the import of it. The show takes time to remind us (if we are adults) how important that first time is, or at least can seem at the time. And the sheer cruelty of Angel dismissing the previous night is really an excellent piece of writing, and some excellent acting from Gellar, who has to do a lot of heavy lifting, especially in the scene later where she realises that her sleeping with Angel caused him to lose his soul.

There's also a running theme of danger throughout thanks to the recurring dreams of Buffy. These help re-establish Drusilla as a threat, who after all has so far spent her time hanging out in a room and saying crazy things. By having her kill dream Angel we can understand her to be much more threatening than she would have been otherwise.

While these episodes are mostly about Buffy, the show takes the time to develop other characters. Giles and Jenny hit a major road bump here. Giles is becoming more and more a father figure for Buffy, with his insistence that they hold a party for her, and so when it transpires that Jenny seems to have betrayed Buffy, he sides with her pretty much instantly. Meanwhile Xander and Cordelia's make outs are finally revealed, caught by Willow. This is another really heartbreaking scene. After all, she has been bullied by Cordelia her entire life, and to see her best friend with Cordelia has to be the ultimate betrayal. We also get that lovely bit of classiness where Oz won't kiss Willow until she's kissing him back.

A quick note as well on some of the choreography of the fights here. A lot of the time it feels like the script says "and then a fight happens, then Buffy wins". Here there seems to be more thought put into their staging, particularly the fight by the truck, and then the fight under the sprinklers which caps the last episode.

And a final note of course on that amazing final scene with Buffy and Joyce. Joyce has a hard time this series, her daughter is growing up and not telling her a thing, but she does her best to be supportive as her 17 year old daughter watches a candle burn on a cake rather than blowing it out.

-This episode marks an appearance of the Sunnydale docks, which are interesting, as in season 7 there's no sign of the sea as we get a full shot of Sunnydale.
-I loved Jenny's uncle. I had misremembered him as sticking around longer. similarly with glasses vampire I guess, who gets judged quite quickly
-One of the parts of the Judge apparently arrived right next to the Bronze. I have no idea how this makes sense
-Angel diving in after Buffy. She'll be fine Angel, she's the slayer!
-Drusilla calls for music during the party (which is awesome), but where does it come from or vanish too? Maybe it's just in her head
-Buffy and Angel hide out at Angel's, despite vampires demonstrably being able to enter it without an invite (Darla did so in season one)
-As they learn that the judge is about to be constructed, Giles recommends that they go to classes while he continues research. Really? I feel like they don't take these world ending threats seriously enough sometimes.
-"You can't see the stars, thats the ceiling. Also it's day".
-A lot of late night shoppers at the mall I guess
-Giles speech to Buffy at the end there is really good. Sometimes I think the show loses who Giles is later on.
posted by Cannon Fodder at 12:25 AM on April 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


Drusilla calls for music during the party (which is awesome)

That would be the entirely appropriate Transylvanian Concubine, by Rasputina.
posted by Pope Guilty at 1:45 AM on April 9, 2015 [5 favorites]


Speaking of Rasputina, her song Diamond Mind is perfect for another character (spoilers for S6).
posted by Tobu at 2:54 AM on April 9, 2015


I'm not sure which is harder to watch: Buffy and Angel in love or the betrayal. And it's not just because I know the betrayal is coming. That intensity, the rawness and immediacy - I remember it, but it's really hard to watch. Or maybe it's just the day I've had.

This is probably also as good a time as any to ask exactly WTF with Angel, a 200+ year old vampire/person, with someone who's just turned 17? I don't get it. I know none of us is going to be immortal so we can't predict how we'd feel if we were, but even at the not-so old age of 41 it would be creepy and wrong to be making out with and taking the virginity of a 17 year old. Bleah. I've been thinking about this all week because of a certain question on AskMe earlier this week which was 19/34 and most people, including me, thought that was off. That bothers me a lot more than the Slayer/vampire thing.

Anyway. Good pair, if painful. I do love Willow, and Oz is still in his super-awesome stage. Looking forward to next week, which will be less fraught.
posted by Athanassiel at 4:37 AM on April 9, 2015


Is this the one where Buffy blows up the Judge with a rocket? There's a tiny little bit of business between Drusilla and Angel that I've always loved, after discovering it in slo-mo:

In the sequence where Buffy raises the rocket launcher to her shoulder, and the Judge looks puzzled, Drusilla looks contemptuous ('no weapon forged', after all). But Angel doesn't. Angel realizes the implications immediately, and dives forward off the platform to get away from the coming explosion. Okay, that was cool, showing how smart Angelus is, which makes him even more menacing. But the capper is what Drusilla does -- she looks over at Angelus as he starts his dive, and she copies him, also diving forward. Hello, character revelation -- Drusilla trusts Angelus' judgment enough to copy what he does, because there's probably a good reason for it. About 2 seconds later, she finds out the reason...
posted by Mogur at 4:58 AM on April 9, 2015 [3 favorites]


Hmm, nice catch Mogur, I'd always watched that as both of them diving for cover at the same time, so will have to watch that part again.

Athanssiel, I'm with you on the skeeviness, I think that

1-The show doesn't think about it enough, and in effect often treats Angel as if he is the age of the actor playing him
2-You could argue (weakly) that he sort of didn't grow up until gaining his soul, then spent a century or so being utterly miserable and out of it, so actually only really continued his emotional development until recently. Unfortunately Angel (the show) contradicts that with flashbacks demonstrating that he was pretty together some of the time at least.

It's the same problem that Twilight has (although its even weirder there, because these immortal vampires apparently have spent centuries attending school!)
posted by Cannon Fodder at 5:07 AM on April 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I've always found Buffy/Angel creepy. But worth it for the awesomeness that results from Angel losing his soul in Innocence.
posted by chaiminda at 7:02 AM on April 9, 2015


This is probably also as good a time as any to ask exactly WTF with Angel, a 200+ year old vampire/person, with someone who's just turned 17? I don't get it. I know none of us is going to be immortal so we can't predict how we'd feel if we were, but even at the not-so old age of 41 it would be creepy and wrong to be making out with and taking the virginity of a 17 year old.

Well, I think vampires have a bit of arrested development going on. Plus, he did spend a hundred-odd years as a half-insane hobo. Not that that makes him a good choice of partner, but he's not exactly a mature and well-adjusted older gentleman.
posted by showbiz_liz at 9:55 AM on April 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


So, when I originally watched this episode, I was ten years old. Rewatching it at 27 is a total trip, seeing as I have now experienced romance, sex, love, heartache, and betrayal. At the time I first saw it, I was more focused on trying to figure out just exactly what sex involved. I knew it took place under covers in beds at night, and crotches were somehow involved, but that was about it.

Buffy and Angel hide out at Angel's, despite vampires demonstrably being able to enter it without an invite (Darla did so in season one)

GOD that bugged me. How stupid can you get?
posted by showbiz_liz at 9:59 AM on April 9, 2015


So, when I originally watched this episode, I was ten years old. Rewatching it at 27 is a total trip, seeing as I have now experienced romance, sex, love, heartache, and betrayal. At the time I first saw it, I was more focused on trying to figure out just exactly what sex involved. I knew it took place under covers in beds at night, and crotches were somehow involved, but that was about it.

Ha so one thing that sprung to mind on rewatch at the time was that when Buffy gets home she wants to shower. I was convinced at the time that showering was a key integral part of sex, and that one would always shower after sex without exception, which, um... proved impractical.

And now I'm thinking about vampire sex again. Do male vampires have performance issues? Do they masturbate? I'm thinking that even assuming Angel had sex with other vampires while evil, he definitely hasn't had sex for a century, right? I'm not sure I'd want my first time to be with someone who hadn't had sex for a hundred years....
posted by Cannon Fodder at 10:53 AM on April 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


It must have been pretty good if he was happy enough to lose his soul.
posted by wabbittwax at 12:08 PM on April 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


It's been a while so I forgot that Jenny was the one who was supposed to take Buffy to the surprise party. When she was acting all cagey with Buffy after being told to separate the lovers, I was half sure she was leading Buffy into a trap, not a celebration. I guess it's a slight misdirect in the episode, and it got me again all these years later. What was she supposed to do anyway? You can't get in the way of those two. All she did was speak up to support Angel's leaving town.

Anyway, yeah Buffy/Angel is a super creepy. The show does sell the passion of it though and brings out two new weapons in the Bangel arsenal here: the Claddagh ring that everyone was crazy over in the late 90s, and Christophe Beck's Buffy/Angel Love theme, which will underscore so much pain to come.

Ok I'm remembering why Oz is great. I have Seth Green burnout but he's a really sweet and straightforward character.

that amazing final scene with Buffy and Joyce

Joss has mentioned filming this scene the day after the Judge explosion, and thinking "Yesterday I had a rocket launcher, and this is better

A few stupid observations:

Giles is totally wearing Saul Goodman's ring on his pinky.
You can totally see Drusilla's reflection in a mirrored counter as she scurries off post explosion.
There are totally way too many Quest for Camelot posters in the Buffy/Angel fight. It was distracting even at the time, still is. I feel like I'm noticing a lot more product placement in the show these days. Giles had a Le Coq Sportif duffel bag in Ted for chrissakes.
posted by yellowbinder at 1:11 PM on April 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


Here's my take on the Buff/Angel age difference: it's not creepy that she's dating a 200-year old vampire, because that's not how they wrote it. But it is creepy that she's dating a 25-27 year old (the age I take Angel as having supposed to be)

It's the same problem that faces pretty much any supernatural drama. What level are we supposed to understand it as "real" and what level are we just supposed to understand it as symbol/metaphor? It's impossible to have a supernatural drama of any significant length without running into these problems, but we usually just let it slide. Why don't these characters all have PTSD? Why do they not doubt their own sanity, why do they insist on going on with their lives 90% normal when there's an imminent demon apocalypse? Because then every episode would be about how a world with vampires and demons ends up being just incoherent insanity. You choose just a few ideas to explore, so some episodes are about characters doubting their sanity, or wondering why they go to work when the world may end tomorrow. But otherwise, you ignore the themes that aren't being brought up and they just go back to normal.

They could have written it to be about how ridiculous and creepy it is to have a 200 year old semi-immortal being with vast experience dating a 17 year old, and it might have been funny and insightful. But instead, for the purposes of the romance, except for an occasional throwaway joke, Buffy is dating a guy who seems to vaguely older, maybe mid or late 20's.
posted by skewed at 6:19 PM on April 9, 2015 [2 favorites]


Here's my take on the Buff/Angel age difference: it's not creepy that she's dating a 200-year old vampire, because that's not how they wrote it. But it is creepy that she's dating a 25-27 year old (the age I take Angel as having supposed to be)

I pretty much agree. I understand that from a storytelling point of view, unless the whole point of the show/movie is the revelation that vampires/other supernatural creatures are real, a lot of time would get wasted in dealing with it. This is just one of the facts of the fictional reality, and though most people in Sunnydale are aware of all the weird stuff, they don't think too much about it. (See Oz's reaction to the revelation: "That explains a lot.") I don't have a problem with that part.

But Angel, whether he is 200+ or 20-something, is sufficiently older than Buffy that it is creepy. If Giles had a thing for Willow and they were all smoochy and puppydoggish, it would be creepy, even in the Sunnydale universe. Therefore Angel, as a grown-up, adult man - again, 200 or 25 - should be creepy for dating and sleeping with a 17-year-old. Apparently, however, being a supernatural being gets him a get-out-of-jail-free card on this one.

I'll say it again, I understand that this is not the story Whedon wanted to tell. But it still creeps me out, just like Xander's sexual possessiveness of Buffy, especially in S1, creeped me out.
posted by Athanassiel at 6:53 PM on April 9, 2015 [2 favorites]


I think Buffy being a supernatural being as well is supposed to make it less creepy, and I have to admit that sort of works for me as an excuse. It would be grosser if Angel was dating a rando teenaged girl.
posted by something something at 6:55 AM on April 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


It must have been pretty good if he was happy enough to lose his soul.

Just had to be good enough for him, and I can believe that after soooooo long as a tormented individual that this moment of connection would qualify. Hell, now that I'm old and decrepit and we've spent other seasons yammering about this moment of pure happiness - I'm prepared to say it's the post-coital peace and comfort that, itself, qualifies as the satisfaction causing the curse to be broken.

My favorite quote from this episode will forever be "What does that do?"
posted by phearlez at 7:34 AM on April 10, 2015


I think Buffy being a supernatural being as well is supposed to make it less creepy

Yeah, I didn't really pick up on this the first time through, but Buffy, despite her periodic attempts, really can't just date regular humans. Her responsibilities and lifestyle - not to mention life expectancy - coupled with her incredible physical strength mean she kinda needs to date other supernatural types. (Even Riley turned out to be a medically enhanced supersoldier, and there was some subtext suggesting that their sex life really took a nosedive when he stopped being super-strong.)

So when your dating pool is that small, and is further constrained by the fact that 95% of supernatural dudes seem to be evil, well... it's no wonder she keeps fucking vampires is what I'm saying
posted by showbiz_liz at 11:06 AM on April 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


On an entirely unrelated note, I forgot to say that this time round, probably because I've also been working my way through The X-Files again, I finally realised that the Judge is also the Alien Bounty Hunter. Cool.
posted by Athanassiel at 3:40 PM on April 10, 2015


Yeah, Brian Thompson is really good at projecting "I am here to fuck you up". He's also Luke from the pilot- the vampire who Buffy fools by breaking a window in front of a lightbulb. ("It's in about nine hours, moron.") Apparently they hired him for the Judge because they already had a prosthetics mold of his face.

Fun fact: Brian Thompson's website plays "Clubbed to Death".
posted by Pope Guilty at 4:15 PM on April 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


vampire/person

Man...pire?
posted by chaiminda at 10:18 AM on April 11, 2015


Just catching back up to this now after spending the weekend luxuriating in the first six episodes of Daredevil. Lots of Buffy people in producing/writing/directing roles!

Does it bother anyone else that the Xander/Cordy relationship seems to be based on some pretty one-sided negging? If anything, Cordy seems to be making a game attempt at making nice and fitting in with the Scoobies (or at least keeping her mean-girl tendencies in check), but Xander has spent a huge chunk of the last few episodes actively putting her down in front of other people.

I'll admit, on previous watches Xander's early-seasons "Nice Guy"-ness sailed right past me, but now that I'm rewatching it with more mature eyes I agree, he is kind of awful and I'm sorry for doubting anyone who said so before. I'm hoping he gets better soon, because I remember kinda relating to his whole redeemed-loser arc back when the show originally aired. I really don't want Xander's characterization to join Kevin Smith's film ouvre, Weezer's post-Pinkerton records, and Frank Miller's entire post-'80s comics output in the pantheon of things I thought were hella-boss in my twenties but am now embarrassed by.
posted by Strange Interlude at 1:38 PM on April 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


Yeah as I said an episode or two back I've been trying to not mention that every time, but he's still pretty awful. He always insulted Cordelia, but before it was punching up. As soon as they start spending time in closets he really ramps it up (explaining "disassembled" to her like a child, etc). Also see him literally rubbing his hands in glee at the prospect of birthday spanking Buffy in this one. I am likewise on the let's hope he gets better soon train, but then again the love spell episode is coming up so...
posted by yellowbinder at 2:21 PM on April 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


Yeah, Xander continues to be really gross. Like yellowbinder, I've stopped mentioning it so I don't turn into a one-note critic. That said, Cordelia gives as good as she gets, so while Xander consistently fails to be a better person, it doesn't bother me quite as much as things like the spanking comment. It's still a pretty disturbing relationship though.
posted by Athanassiel at 8:20 PM on April 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


In the "things that may bother only me" category:

The curse and the Kalderash clan behavior/strategy made no sense to me. Like if they wanted to make Angel's life miserable, why would they curse him with a soul with "one moment of perfect happiness" loophole and not tell him about it? If the purpose of the soul is to make him feel bad about his crimes, wouldn't it be worse for him to know that he'd have to be careful not to get too happy?

And if Jenny's job was to prevent Angel from achieving that one moment, why haven't we seen her do anything to further that cause before the big reveal? What the heck was the Kalderash clan expecting her to do, anyway?

This part of Giles's speech to Buffy also has me confounded: "Do you want me to wag my finger at you and tell you that you acted rashly? You did."

What was rash about Buffy sleeping with Angel? She's a teenager with hormones, and she has a boyfriend, and it's fairly normal for sex to occur under those circumstances. If the issue was that sleeping with a vampire was a problem, then maybe Giles should have brought that up when the relationship with Angel started, which was long before this episode.

Yes, he ends it on a supportive note, but those lines still seem weird to me.

Onto the stuff that bugs other people:
Xander/Cordelia: I think the show was trying to go for "bickering couple who really do love each other", but to me, a lot of the verbal sparring seemed to veer into contempt, on both sides. I just found them unpleasant to watch together.

Buffy/Angel: SMG and David Boreanaz's chemistry together sold me on the relationship on the first watch, but it's one of those things that kind of falls apart when I rewatch and actually think about the logistics of the age difference, and Angel's history. On rewatch, Angel seems pretty selfish for getting involved with Buffy.
posted by creepygirl at 9:51 PM on April 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


The curse and the Kalderash clan behavior/strategy made no sense to me. Like if they wanted to make Angel's life miserable, why would they curse him with a soul with "one moment of perfect happiness" loophole and not tell him about it? If the purpose of the soul is to make him feel bad about his crimes, wouldn't it be worse for him to know that he'd have to be careful not to get too happy?

I think it was basically a screw up, in that they had anticipated that Angel would be so miserable that that clause would never happen, and it's only recent developments that have alarmed them. Jenny was meant to hang out and check that he was still gloomy, but perhaps hadn't been taking it terribly seriously of late.
posted by Cannon Fodder at 1:03 AM on April 14, 2015


Like if they wanted to make Angel's life miserable, why would they curse him with a soul with "one moment of perfect happiness" loophole and not tell him about it? If the purpose of the soul is to make him feel bad about his crimes, wouldn't it be worse for him to know that he'd have to be careful not to get too happy?

Perhaps magic, like a legal contract, has to have some balance. This sort of thought gets explored in a fair number of books that try to delve into a more sensible explanation of magic (and if you have not read Gladstone's craft sequence books, starting with Three Parts Dead, you are really missing out) and the being at peace thing works well here for that idea. Angel is damned to this awareness of his horribleness and the only way it comes to an end is for him to have peace... something that should be pretty much impossible until he has really suffered and atoned.

I find that less difficult to grasp than this multi-generational stalking. Yeah, he ate some Romany. Hard to think they weren't persecuted in a million other ways since then that deserve attention.
posted by phearlez at 7:22 AM on April 14, 2015 [2 favorites]


Thing that bugs the hell out of me (if anyone comes into this thread even later than I have and wishes to find a way to handwave this, please do so:)

During the, let's say, foreplay and afterglow scenes at Angel's, we see moonlight coming through the window across Buffy.

WHY THE FUCK WOULD ANGEL HAVE A WINDOW ACROSS FROM HIS MOTHERFUCKING BED? THAT ALLOWS LIGHT? HE SHOULD BE LONG DEAD BY NOW!
posted by Navelgazer at 8:41 PM on October 5, 2015 [3 favorites]


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