Thursday, July 28, 2011


Season #2, Episode #17: Passion

I need to work up an appetite first.

Woah. We're already at Passion?

There are a few episodes throughout Buffy that are gamechangers in that the entire tone of the series changes and all the characters brood about the events of the episode for many seasons. Nothing is ever the same. This is my list: Angel (1x7), Innocence (2x14), Bad Girls (3x14), The Body (5x16), Bargaining (6x1), and Dead Things (6x13).

As you can see, not a long list! And one of them occurred only two episodes ago! And yet, Passion is one of those episodes. Unfortunately, it is sooo serious that it is bound to make a really dumb blog entry. I recommend skimming.

The episode opens on Buffy and Xander dancing at The Bronze. Before he horrible memory of When She Was Bad and the sexy dance can flash through your mind, we hear a voiceover from Angelus ruminating on passion. (Plus, the band playing that night is like Diet Cibo Matto.) Angelus lurks in the background, watching the revelry. Later, Angelus stares at Buffy through her window while she sleeps, a creepy "industrial" score playing. Then he's in her bed, brushing her hair out of her face. He leaves her a sketch of herself sleeping.

Three minutes in and this episode is already awesome.

Post-opening credits, it's business as usual at the Sunnydale High library. Buffy wants to know how Angelus got into her home, and Cordelia tactfully asks why he didn't just slit her throat. The disturbing reason is that Angelus's modus operandi is to torture, taunt, and drive his prey insane before killing them, e.g. killing Drusilla's whole family before killing her. Although Angelus has been lurking in the shadows of every episode since Innocence, we haven't really seen him do anything, and Buffy has more or less been carrying on like always. But now the dramatic stakes have been raised!

The Scoobies reconnect with Jenny Calendar, sort of. She asks Willow to fill in for her as a computer teacher, which gets her all excited. Then she and Giles have a heart-to-heart about Jenny's duty to her family, whom Angelus hurt the most, conflicting with the life that she created in Sunnydale, which included falling in love with Giles. This gets him all excited. "Can I take that back?" she says, embarrassed. "Do you want to?" he asks. These two, y'all :(

Buffy, worried that Joyce is in danger, asks if she remembers "that guy Angel." It's easy to forget just how tooootally oblivious Joyce is! Buffy warns Joyce that they used to date, but he's since "changed," and that Joyce shouldn't invite him into the house if he turns up. This is instance #24294 when you will want to yell at Joyce, "SHE IS THE SLAYERRRR!!!!"

It seems Angelus has made a house call to Willow! She wasn't home, so he left her a message in the form of her exotic fishes strung up in an envelope.

She says, "I'm glad my parents never got me a puppy."

Speaking of puppies, Drusilla finds the most impossibly adorable puppy in the whole world and brings him to Spike!!!! Omg this puppy is so so cute. Luckily, Spike is indignant that Drusilla is trying to feed him like a little child, and the puppy is spared. Angelus finds this hilarious. The fissure between these two macho macho men grows. Drusilla seems unphased that Spike and Angel let out their anger with one another by constantly trying to claim the deed to her vagina--possibly because she's just had a vision of "someone" trying to disrupt their happy family.

It turns out this person is Jenny Calendar. She heads to the magic shop (keep this place in mind!) to retrieve some kind of fanciful orb. The shopkeeper helpfully tells the audience that the orb is useless without the ancient instruction manual. Then, because Jenny never answers when you yell questions at your TV, he asks, "What are you planning on conjuring with the orb?"

"A gift for a friend. A soul," she says.

Giles may have reconciled with Jenny, but Buffy wants her to feel the neverending pain and guilt that she deserves!!! It's hard to blame her, even though she's being irrational, but also you're just like, come on Buffy, be the bigger woman, let bygones be bygones, group hug :(

Angelus leaves another sketch for Buffy at Willow's--this time of sleeping Joyce. Cut to Joyce, oblivious as usual, pulling into her driveway where Angelus is waiting. He does a good impression of a psychotic, obsessively jealous boyfriend--I wonder how! "I haven't been able to sleep since the night we made love," he tells her. Awkward!! This scene is quite wonderful in that Joyce is being the protective mother guarding against the jealous boyfriend, but there's a dangerous undercurrent that is somewhat sexual and somewhat mystical and very very tense! Joyce spills her groceries. Joyce stumbles into the front door. And, surprise! Buffy is home, Willow reciting a magical protection locking spell in the background.

"Sorry, Angel. Changed the locks," she says.

Drusilla shows up at the magic shop to pump the shopkeeper for info. Meanwhile, Jenny Calendar is at Sunnydale High all by her lonesome using her computer skillz to translate the ancient instruction manual for her orb. Just when she thinks she's figured it out...Angelus shows up.


He smashes the orb, rips up the instructions, and sets the computer on fire. He's nothing if not thorough! Jenny runs for her life, but all of the exits have been barricaded. But surely Buffy is around and will show up to save the day, right? And then she and Jenny will finally be able to reconcile? And all will be well in Sunnydale. Right??

Wrong. Angel snaps her neck, saying, "This is where you get off."

If you are like me the first time I saw this, your jaw is on the floor. Her death is so gruesome, sexualized, and painful to watch--and still, somehow, the worst scene is the one that follows :(

Giles comes home and finds a red rose on his door, ostensibly from Jenny. Opera is playing somewhere in his apartment, and petals, wine, and candles greet him inside. He finds a note that says, "Upstairs." The look of joy on his face will seriously make you cry.

Of course, once he arrives in his bedroom, he sees Jenny's corpse splayed out by Angelus on his bed. The shot transitions from him standing in terror at his doorway to him, in the same position, being questioned by the police, as if he is paralyzed. I told you--things will never be the same :(

Angelus watches Buffy and Willow receiving the phone call that Jenny has died. Cue another Angelus voiceover on passion. It becomes all the more tragic that Buffy and Jenny never reconciled, and that Giles and Jenny did.

When the Scoobies arrive at Giles's apartment, they find him...not there. Buffy worries that he went to exact revenge on Angelus, which gets Xander all excited. He says, "I think I deserve something for not saying, 'I told you so!' before now." I think from here on out, I'll replace my exasperated musings on why everything Xander says is awful with the catch-all, "Shut UP Xander."

Giles brings his flamethrower to Spike and Dru's house. He smacks Angelus across the face with a flaming torch. He's not thinking with all his faculties intact, you see. But it still seems a little bit harsh when, after pulling him outside and to safety, he screams at Buffy and she punches him in the face. Then they collapse together in the alley, both sobbing. Okay everyone. This episode is better than Innocence. Best episode so far.

We opened with a voiceover from Angelus, and end on a somber voiceover from Buffy. She apologizes to Giles for not having killed Angel, but realizes she no longer has any choice. Tearful Willow introduces herself as the new computer science teacher in Jenny Calendar's absence. And while Voiceover Buffy explains that the only option is to kill Angel, Willow unknowingly knocks off the desk the floppy disk (lol) containing the spell that would restore Angel's soul. The end!

[The now-hidden floppy disk lol]

The first time I saw this episode, I was mostly shocked by Jenny's death, but the second time around, I can't believe how GOOD it is! Most of this review is just me quoting the dialogue directly, because it's so good it speaks for itself! Both the opening and ending are beautiful, and the plotting! Passion completely changes the group dynamic and creates the kill-or-be-killed strategy that Buffy could never muster up before. Giles' involvement with the Scoobies will never recover. I mentioned the essay on Jenny by Eleusis Walks--he said that Oz was supposed to be the character to die, but he was too popular with audiences! So it's maybe a stroke of luck on the writers part that the character who was ultimately sacrificed emphasized the twisted sexuality in the Angelus arc, and the unique, high-stakes involvement of each major character with her death. (A one true love for Giles, a mentor for Willow, a reminder of Buffy's "failure" and sexual relationship with Angel, and a hot chick for Xander idk.) Jenny, the only character capable of restoring Angel's soul and taking it away, is gone. Gamechanger!

Even the music is good, for once!


Favorite moment: Well that was an awfully serious episode and an awfully boring review! How about some levity? When the Scoobies talk strategy in the library, Jonathan (!!) and some other rando student walk in. Everyone is like, WTF, are these people hostile? Why are they in the library?

But it turns out they're looking for books.

1 comment:

  1. :( :(

    <3 the library people, though!!!

    Also, as I was watching the episode, I was all "Wtf. Why is Willow putting fish flakes in a tank that clearly has no fish in.... Ooooooo." :(