Tuesday, 18 January 2011
Buffy: 2.13 ‘Surprise’
This SO is not gonna end well.
Writer: Marti Noxon
Director: Michael Lange
What's the sitch?
It’s Buffy’s birthday. And that never ends well. For a start she’s having disturbing prophetic dreams of Angel’s death. And while her friends are planning a surprise party at The Bronze for the Slayer, reinvigorated vampire Drusilla is planning a party of her own at the old factory to celebrate her return to full strength as wheelchair-bound Spike looks on. Dru’s ultimate party piece will be the reassembling of a powerful ancient demon called The Judge. Un-killable by any weapon forged by man, The Judge was cut in to pieces aeons ago and sent to the four corners of the earth. Now being brought piece by piece to Sunnydale, the last of the Judge parts, however, gets intercepted by Buffy. Recognising the Judge’s body part for what it is, Angel (as suggested by devious Jenny) decides to take said part as far away from Sunnydale as possible, far across the world in fact. Tonight. This news shatters Buffy’s world as she and Angel are now extremely close and she can’t bear to lose him. But when they go to the docks where Angel plans to catch a freighter, Drusilla’s men ambush them and steal back the Judge’s body part. Regrouping, Buffy and Angel head to the factory for some recon to see how far Drusilla has got in reassembling The Judge. And they are shocked to see the demon is up and around and slowly regaining his devastating killing strength. A fight breaks out and the heroic pair only just manages to escape with their lives. Caught in the rain they head on back to Angel’s place to dry off and nurse their wounds. One thing leads to another and eventually they end up making love. And so, on the eve of her seventeenth birthday, Buffy loses her virginity to the man she loves. But Angel is about to lose something far greater…
What's the sitch beneath the sitch?
This is part one of a two-part story all about relationships, intimacy, betrayal and the hard lessons of growing up. It’s about the redefining of relationships with some people growing closer and others growing apart. Buffy and Angel are getting ever closer with the big ‘S’ starting to assert itself as the next logical step in their relationship. But there is fear and trepidation over taking that next step. Meanwhile Xander and Cordy are getting more and more passionate but are unable to move their relationship on to a proper footing, while Jenny and Giles are getting closer, though it turns out Jenny is keeping a very big secret from Rupert and the gang. And last but certainly not least Willow and Oz finally get together for a proper date…kinda. All too soon, though, events will throw some of these relationships in to utter turmoil.
Who's giving us the wiggins this week?
Newly revitalised Drusilla and the big blue meanie called The Judge.
Why it rocks
This is part one of one hell of a two-part story with writer Marti Noxon nicely setting up the chess pieces ready for Joss to come along in part 2 and gleefully, tragically knock the whole darn board over.
We bid a welcome return to Buffy’s often disturbing prophetic dreams.
Oz is such a great character. God bless Seth Green.
Juliet Landau as newly revitalised Drusilla is deliciously freaky, especially when she loses it over her roses.
The scene with Willow and Oz on the school bench where he asks her out is a highlight. It’s cleverly written and both actors are delightful.
Love the vampire party at the factory. Nicely goth with a great tune playing in the background – ‘Transylvanian Concubine’ by Rasputina.
The Jenny revelation is unexpected and adds a whole new aspect. Plus the late Vincent Schiavelli as her uncle makes a great addition to the cast.
The Judge looks pretty cool and the effect when he burns people up is shiny.
Sarah Michelle Gellar and David Boreanaz’s chemistry boils over. You can tell all the way through this episode that their relationship is building up to an inexorable…um…climax.
That cliffhanger. Oh crap!
Why it sucks
The Judge is pretty cool but is one of two potentially world ending uber-demons the vamps try to resurrect in this season. Plus he looks a bit too blue – a kind of Smurf on steroids.
It’s an excellent episode but it is essentially just set-up material for the big payoff of part 2.
Oz asking Willow out.
Dialogue to die for
Angel: Leave her alone.
Spike: Yeah, that'll work. Now say 'pretty please'.
Angel: Take me instead of her!
Spike: Uh, you're not clear on the concept, mate. There is no 'instead'. Just first and second.
Buffy (to Willow about Oz): You think he's too old 'cause he's a senior? Please. My boyfriend had a bicentennial.
Xander: Buffy, I feel a pre-birthday spanking coming on.
Willow: Carpe diem. You told me that once.
Buffy: Fish of the day?
And another thing
Brian Thompson, who played Luke in ‘Welcome to the Hellmouth’ and the X-Files’ alien bounty hunter amongst other hulking types plays the Judge.
This episode takes place on Buffy's seventeenth birthday, implying that Buffy was born in January 1981. This goes on to become canon with the original air date for this double bill of January 19th becoming our girl’s official birthday. She turns 30 this year (2011).
How many stakes?
A very pleasant surprise indeed. 4 (out of 5)