Original airdate: May 12, 1998
Project 310 re-watch date: Jan. 23, 2009
You know what’s great about this episode (and I’m speaking specifically about Part 1, since I want to treat these episodes on their own for Project 310)? There are so many things we’ve been told about Angel’s history, but we finally get to see them all play out here.
This is the first time since her staking that we see Darla on the show, and she looks incredible. Julie Benz was made to wear Victorian clothing -- I mean, lots of women look good in dresses like that, but Julie looks fantastic.
OK, enough about 18th century clothing. More about Angel. We see him making Dru crazy. We see him getting cursed. The whole Angelus dossier plays out in front of our eyes, and lays the groundwork for the remaining 10 seasons of his character (5 more seasons of “Buffy”, 5 seasons of “Angel”).
The best non-Angel scene in this episode happens in the Library, when Buffy and the gang are all discussing, who else, Angel (seriously, he’s the driving force behind both of these episodes, more than he’s been all season). Willow and Buffy have just discovered the restoration spell, and they’re all debating what to do. Xander is the voice of human reason, arguing that Angel’s a killer and the plan should still be to stake him. Emotions boil over like they never have before and like you’d expect them to with real people. For once, Giles, Xander, Buffy, Willow and Cordelia aren’t just in “deal with the bad guy” mode. They’re experiencing the spillover between “slayer life” and “real life”.
As for the best Angel scene, well, it’s none of the ones I’ve mentioned above. It’s the entirety of the flashback with Whistler (who is probably the coolest one-appearance character on the show, and was supposed to be Angel’s sidekick on “Angel” before they went with Doyle). The gypsy curse is what turned Angelus into Angel, but this encounter is what turned Angel into the man (vampire?) he would become.
Also in this scene, we get to see Buffy doing her Cordelia act -- at Hemery she was essentially Cordy-lite, and surrounded herself with Cordettes of her own. We also get a tiny little line by Whistler that leaves an opening for the Angel backstory we’d see in the “Fool for Love”/”Darla” crossover. When Angel says he wants to be alone, Whistler says “you’ve been left alone for, what, 90 years already.” But the Manhattan flashback was in 1996, and the gypsy flashback was in 1898. When I first saw this episode, I thought it was shitty math by Whistler. I didn’t realize they were leaving an opening for a few more years with Darla, Dru and Spike.
It seems strange to have Kendra reappear on the series only to die, but it gives Buffy further motivation to abandon the quest to re-ensoul Angel, and it sets the stage for a new guest slayer. Plus the fight scene between Kendra and Dru is really freaking cool. As for the way Kendra dies (getting her throat slashed by Dru), it keeps with a pattern. The Master didn’t feed on Buffy. Dru doesn’t feed on Kendra. And going back in time further (though we won’t see it until “Fool for Love”) Spike doesn’t feed on Nikki Wood. Spike does feed on the Chinese Slayer, but there’s quite a run of Slayers who got killed in disrespectful ways.
"Acathla the demon came forth to swallow the world. He was killed by a virtuous knight who pierced the demon's heart before he could draw a breath to perform the act. Acathla turned to stone, as demons sometimes do, and was buried where neither man nor demon would want to look. Unless of course they're putting up low-rent housing." - Angelus