Season 2, Episode 13 - “Surprise”
Original airdate: Jan. 19, 1998
Project 310 re-watch date: Jan. 14, 2009
This episode is all about couples. Xander and Cordelia, Willow and Oz, Giles and Jenny, Spike and Dru, and, of course, Buffy and Angel. See that’s the thing -- it’s easy to make this episode all about Buffy and Angel, because of what happens at the end and the consequences of it, but, really, they’re just the key figures in the circle of tragic couplings (just look at all the pairings above, and see how all of them end in tragedy).
I just want to reiterate that there is nothing bad about this episode. The revelation of Jenny’s backstory, and how it ties into Angel’s, is so sudden and so perfect. I also think it shows how the writers of the show think ahead. I can’t say for certain that Jenny was introduced with this in mind, but the signs, looking back, were there (techno-pagan thing, surprise at Buffy being the slayer and Angel having a relationship with her).
One thing that kind of gets lost in the episode is how when Jenny’s driving Buffy to the party, it almost seems like Jenny’s setting Buffy up for danger (especially after the scene with Jenny’s uncle), but really, it was just a weird coincidence. Right after that scene, Oz’s line when he finds out about vampires (“actually, it explains a lot”) is hilarious.
I’m gonna leave the Buffy-Angel aftermath for next episode, since that’s when the aftermath really happens. But the near separation of Buffy and Angel, then their temporarily happy reunion, is so great.
I do want to address the revived Drusilla. For the first half of this season, she wasn’t really a formidable foe, because she had no strength. But here we finally get to see her planning and scheming and being feared by the other vampires in her group. Not only is she powerful, but her insanity makes her more dangerous. It’s what led her to devise a plan that put the entire world in danger (something she does again at the end of the season).
It’s interesting how Buffy dreamed Drusilla would kill Angel, but instead she does something so much worse. Which makes this episode so much better.