Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Passion   Rewatch 
April 22, 2015 11:05 PM - Season 2, Episode 17 - Subscribe

As Angel steps up his harassment of Buffy and friends, Jenny works to reinstate his soul. It doesn't go so well for her.
posted by yellowbinder (16 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
It always shocks me that this isn't a Whedon written and directed episode. It's so grand and operatic and sad and scary. It's also here that we learn that no one is really safe on this show, and that characters you like can and will be killed off without warning.

The voiceovers are maybe a little much but otherwise it's excellence all around. I love Jenny's steps to reconciliation with Giles and Buffy. I love Angel's creepy drawings and chain of fish. I love the sight gag of Cordelia's car with bunches of garlic all over. Buffy's "Changed the locks" is one of the classic moments of the series for me.

There's some great filmmaking here too. The kill shot is gorgeous, the scene in Giles' apartment is heartbreakingly staged and the cut from Jenny in bed to Giles surrounded by police lights is great, and this might be the first example I've seen of being shown terrible news delivered but not actually hearing it. Gaaaaah such a great one.
posted by yellowbinder at 11:22 PM on April 22, 2015 [1 favorite]

I have a slightly controversial opinion with this episode: I don't love it. It has some legitmately good moments: the daring to kill Jenny, and then the horror and cruelty of that scene in the bedroom. But... that narration isn't very good. It beats you over the head about the themes of the episode, and just feels a bit clunky. Angel also suffers here from ineffective villainitis, something Glory will get in Season 5, where he has ample opportunity to kill Buffy and just... doesn't. Spike calls him out on this, and maybe it makes sense that he wants to torment Buffy... so why not Willow? Kill Willow's fish? Why not her? Or her parents? He is, in fact, acting more like a crazy ex than a crazy ex vampire.

Of course the show makes up for that with the horrifying murder of Jenny, and it is a bold move. This is the first time the show kills a really major character (Jesse doesn't count, because no-one remembers he ever existed. Poor Jesse). And it really hurts. The show even gives you the opportunity to believe she might get away before cruelly dashing those hopes. It's a bold statement, and finally makes clear that Buffy is going to have to kill Angel.

-They do the lock changing ritual at night. Why not during the day?
-Cordelia's fears regarding her car are just wonderful
-Drusilla trying to feed Spike a puppy
-Jonathan comes to get books!
-"It might be handy to have you around if we need a good parking space." Did Angel ever like Spike? Maybe he's getting revenge for Spike overshadowing him
-The first ever magic shop appearance.
posted by Cannon Fodder at 12:31 AM on April 23, 2015 [1 favorite]

He is, in fact, acting more like a crazy ex

That's the point isn't it?
posted by Sebmojo at 2:27 AM on April 23, 2015

That's the point isn't it?

Well yeah but if you're crazy ex vampire acts exactly like a crazy ex rather than a crazy ex vampire then you've kind of gone through the metaphor direct to just the thing itself. The thing that makes Buffy, Buffy is the element of supernatural, of the extreme. So you have sex with someone for the first time and then they are literally evil. So his crazy ex stuff should be more extreme, basically. And I guess you could argue that the episode is working it's way up from creepy to full on murder, but it just makes me lose suspension of disbelief a little that his actions weren't a little more full on. I mean, something horrible happening to fish is a plot point in Friends, for crying out loud!
posted by Cannon Fodder at 2:47 AM on April 23, 2015 [2 favorites]

Yes, the first magic shop appearance! And implied magic shop owner death! I found it odd that the owner knew Jenny's uncle though since there was no indication he lived in town, especially to the point where the shop owner would know all about her. I thought maybe it was out of town but it was close enough Jenny to visit before school without being late so I'm just going to shrug and move on.

And yeah lack of mom and friend killing aside (and setting aside Jenny killing for a moment) Angel is definitely weak. Witness how Giles beats on him for like a solid minute before he's able to turn the tables.
posted by yellowbinder at 7:32 AM on April 23, 2015

To be fair to Angel though, Giles brings it like a hardcore badass.
posted by wabbittwax at 8:09 AM on April 23, 2015

On rewatch, I just accepted the bit about the fish because I was following the flow of the story and was more interested in how Buffy would react to all of the stalking. Now I'm trying to imagine the scene where Angelus gets the fish out of the tank. Did he use a net (which seems a bit prissy for a super-evil vampire)? Did he use a thrall power (like we see with The Master and Buffy and later, Drusilla and Kendra) to get the fish to jump out of the tank (which seems like a pretty trivial use of his superpowers)? Did he just stick his arms in the tank and grab them (which seems like it would make a watery mess that he'd either have to clean up, or that the Scoobies would notice long before they noticed the fish were missing)?

I would say that some things are best left to imagination, but my imagination is only making things worse.
posted by creepygirl at 9:11 AM on April 23, 2015 [3 favorites]

Well yeah but if you're crazy ex vampire acts exactly like a crazy ex rather than a crazy ex vampire then you've kind of gone through the metaphor direct to just the thing itself.

Or, as Giles would say: "I believe the subtext is rapidly becoming... text."
posted by Parasite Unseen at 5:03 PM on April 23, 2015 [3 favorites]

creepygirl, I am now laughing helplessly at the different visions of Angel getting the fish out of the tank. That's comedy gold! You know the way fish have this uncanny knack of avoiding the net just when you think you've got them... picturing Angel getting all vamp-faced with frustration and growling at them... I'm broken! Thank you!

Okay, back to the episode as it was filmed. Those voice-overs are really stupid. It's my opinion that that kind of thing really only works in comics, where you don't have the actual voice. Because who would want to act that? It's impossible not to get a kind of pontificating monotone when you're narrating, making the subtext into text. It almost comes good at the point where Angel's watching Buffy find out about Jenny, but mostly because of Gellar and Hannigan's acting when they hear the news. It's a counterpoint, reminding you that Angel did this because of exactly this effect. I still think they could have achieved that without the voiceover though.

And while I'm on the topic of good acting, Head really does a great job too. All those little facial expressions when he gets home and hears the opera, takes in all the trappings of romance set up, the pleased anticipation - and then the very English way his face just goes blank. And then the silent, methodical assault on Angel. Oh Giles, my crush on you is totally alive and well. (Thankfully because you are fictional I don't need to worry about actually having to turn for you.)

Joyce acting like a concerned mum and bringing up many of the objections I've brought up - he's too old for you! - was also quite nice. She's often played for laughs - look how what she thinks is going on isn't actually what's going on - and that started to happen this episode ("Let me guess, now he's changed and he's not the guy you fell in love with") but it actually got to move past that shallow ha-ha moment and get somewhere real. It was nice to see.
posted by Athanassiel at 5:50 PM on April 23, 2015 [1 favorite]

his crazy ex stuff should be more extreme

He killed Jenny. That isn't extreme enough?
posted by jeather at 5:24 AM on April 24, 2015

He killed Jenny. That isn't extreme enough?

Well yes. I don't really want the episode to have Willow and Buffy coming home to find their respective parents murdered by Angel, but I'd just like some thought into why exactly. I guess I'm going to have a lot to gripe with about Glory for similar reasons. This has just started to bug me lately, when Whedon insists on populating his world with super powered incredibly evil beings, why they don't do quite as much as they do... I think the show establishes pretty well why Angel didn't want to kill Buffy yet, but it's not clear why he doesn't want to kill people related to her (to be fair, in B,B and B he does intend to kill Xander), with the obvious exception of Jenny.

Maybe Angel simply didn't know he could be uninvited, so thought he had plenty of time to up his harassment of Buffy/Willow? That makes a certain amount of sense to me.
posted by Cannon Fodder at 5:58 AM on April 24, 2015 [1 favorite]

He always wanted to play games with his victims before he killed them, so it seems reasonable to me that he wanted to do it with Buffy too and that the first move wasn't kill her best friends or her mother. He certainly would have gotten to planning to kill Willow and Xander and Giles (he planned to kill Giles in Becoming), but when they stepped up their game I think it surprised him at how effective they were at blocking him.
posted by jeather at 6:07 AM on April 24, 2015

Those voice-overs are really stupid. It's my opinion that that kind of thing really only works in comics, where you don't have the actual voice. Because who would want to act that? It's impossible not to get a kind of pontificating monotone when you're narrating, making the subtext into text.

Voice-overs frequently come across either very stiff or overly enunciated and emotive. I've always wondered if it might work out better if the person doing the voice-over didn't know it was meant to be one at performance time. Write and shoot the scene as one character telling another about something that happened and then afterwards lift out just the audio for the voice-over. Having been performed as two people talking it might end up less stilted once it is "repurposed".

I suppose expensive cast and crew time prevents that from being a realistic option for most film or TV shoots.
posted by Babblesort at 3:50 PM on April 24, 2015

When I was in middle school, I initially refused to watch Buffy because I thought the name indicated a stupid show (clearly at 13 I was too intellectual for such a thing), though my friend was always bothering me to watch it. I was over at her place and Passion came on as my first episode of Buffy. Then I wound up seeing it again, for some reason. Basically, thank you to this episode for fully getting me into the show. It also meant that, while my friend had the biggest crush on Angel, I hated him for a long time (and had a thing for Giles instead, but seriously, who wouldn't).

I kind of wish I had seen this in its original order, because as the first major death, it probably would have been even more shocking. It was, however, a very effective entry into a show that could certainly inspire paranoia about nobody being safe. Also, Giles is the best. Poor Giles.
posted by ilana at 9:55 AM on April 30, 2015 [1 favorite]

Other episodes are more beloved, but this is the baseline example of what a perfect Buffy episode should be.
posted by Navelgazer at 11:22 PM on October 5, 2015

Today it occurred me that ... you'd think a vamp would want to turn a slayer. Imagine what an asset a slayer could be - for those vampires into building power and taking over the world - and what a coup it would be for the vamp.

Like, what if if Angel's agenda included turning Buffy ... so they could be together forever. Plus - he got obsessed with Druscilla, tormented her and then and turned her ... it fits the pattern.
posted by bunderful at 5:36 PM on September 12, 2021

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