Sunday, 13 March 2011

Buffy: 3.10 ‘Amends’

Some of Christophe Beck’s lovely score for ‘Amends’.

Writer: Joss Whedon
Director: Joss Whedon

What's the sitch?

It’s Christmas Eve and victims from Angel’s evil past are haunting him, trying to convince him to give in to his true nature, to give in to his need for Buffy and ultimately to kill her. The vampire with a soul is slowly being driven insane by these ghosts of the past and by his guilt and his barely contained passion for Buffy. Meanwhile Buffy is doing her own guest spots in Angel’s nightmares and is scared that they are losing him again. In desperation, Angel turns to Giles for help. Giles discovers that what is actually persecuting Angel is The First, the first ever evil, the original being that all other evil then sprung from. And The First wants Angel evil again and the Slayer dead. Feeling unable to resist anymore, Angel decides there’s only one way out – to kill himself by waiting for the coming dawn. Buffy defeats The First’s minions who are doing the ghostly conjuring and then rushes to stop Angel from committing suicide in the Christmas Day sun.

What's the sitch beneath the sitch?

It’s pretty much in the title. This is all about guilt and making amends. It’s about taking the hard path to trying to put things right and not taking the easy way out, about living a better life. Joss is basically channelling Dickens here with a hefty dose of A Christmas Carol as ghosts arrive to terrify and taunt Angel showing him what a terrible life he has led. The Buffy twist being that, unlike Dickens, the ghosts here don’t want to make Angel a better man. No, they want him evil again. It falls to Buffy to try and convince him about taking the hard path to becoming more than he was, to being a good and worthwhile man.

Who's giving us the wiggins this week?

The First and it’s blind Bringers.

Why it rocks

It’s a Joss episode. Need more? Okay…

The tale is very Dickensian in theme, tone and style. This is helped enormously by the beautifully put together flashbacks of a snowy Dublin in the 1800’s. These must have cost a small fortune what with the many, many extras, snow machines, period costumes, horses and other props. But worth every penny.

The cast. Everyone of them is great but especially David Boreanaz who does a very good turn as a confused and tortured soul gradually coming apart. Shame though about his Oirish accent. Yikes!

The score. Christophe Beck provides a beautifully haunting score for this episode especially in the flashback sequences.

Evil Angel. The scene where evil Angel menaces and then murders a young housemaid in old Dublin as she pleads for her life and that of her child. Despite the silly wig and terrible tash on Boreanaz it is wonderfully chilling stuff.

Willow’s continual reminders to her friends that she is Jewish and doesn’t partake in Christmas.

Willow’s attempted seduction of Oz using the music of the late great Barry White.

Faith coming over to Buffy’s for Christmas Eve with her “crappy” presents.

The First Evil. In season 3 Joss already appears to be setting up the ultimate Big Bad for the final ever season of Buffy four years later. Great advance planning or just coincidence? Knowing Joss I go for the first (or First).

Robia LaMorte. She’s back as Jenny Calendar…kinda, and does sterling work.

The little Mutant Enemy guy wearing his Santa hat in the end credits logo.

Why it sucks

David Boreanaz should never, I repeat NEVER be allowed to do an Irish accent. Brrr.

Angel’s dodgy 1800’s wig and awful matching moustache. Oh Joss, what were you thinking?

Despite the numerous mentions of how hot it was, many characters are wearing coats and warm clothes.

The Angel/Buffy confrontation on the hillside as the sun is about to rise becomes a bit too overwrought for my tastes with some unusually ripe dialogue for a Joss script.

The snowfall over Sunnydale blocking out the sun is very, very cheesy and the actual snow in Sunnydale looks rubbish. Unlike in the Dublin flashbacks it looks like what it is – white foam sprayed on stuff.

It's Buftastic

The fantastic scene (one of the best of the whole season) of a guilty and nervous Willow trying to seduce Oz with candles and Barry White. It’s immensely sweet and very funny. Oz looks wonderfully uncomfortable and the two actors play the scene to perfection. If you didn’t love Oz before (and why not?) then you surely will after this.

Dialogue to die for

Buffy: "You're weak, everybody is. Everybody fails ... Angel, you have the power to do real good, to make amends. But if you die now, then all that you ever were was a monster."

Angel: “Um... I'm sorry to bother you.”
Giles: “Sorry. Coming from you that phrase strikes me as rather funny. 'Sorry to bother me.'”
Angel: “I need your help.”
Giles: “And the funny keeps on coming.”

Joyce: “So, angel’s on top again?”
Buffy (shocked, looks to her mom): “What?”
Joyce (holding up an angel and a star): “Angel or star for the tree?”

Xander: “Angel? Weird? What are the odds?”

And another thing

The weatherman, Mark Kriski, was the real weatherman for L.A.’s KTLA's morning news.

In the end credits logo, little Mutant Enemy guy wears a Santa cap, and there are bells jingling in the background.

Giles keeps a Christmas stocking in the library with his name on it. Maybe he knows the truth about Santa. I just hope it isn’t the ‘Rare Exports’ truth.

How many stakes?

Angel’s on top. 3.5 (out of 5)

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