The most immediately striking thing about "Passion" is the narration by David Boreanaz. On first viewing, as the episode began, I admit I rolled my eyes. It seemed a bit melodramatic, and not really in keeping with the tone one expects from Buffy. But by the end, the episode seems to have earned the narration, lived up to it even, as the most most dramatic and dark Buffy to date. There's little humor in the episode, and what's there is more to diffuse tension than to elicit a laugh. There's also not much action, and the brief conflict is saved for the end and feels a bit like the show is trying to fill a quota. Instead, the episode is filled with horror and grief.
"Without passion, we'd be truly dead."
Angel's attempts to provoke Buffy in this episode are some of the show's most frightening moments to date. And, in fact, ever. For a show with such strong roots in the fantasy horror genre, it's strange that Buffy's best horror moments to date owe more to the tradition of psychological thrillers. But the villain in this episode isn't Angel the vampire, it's Angel the stalker--just another reason he makes such an effective big bad. Slightly less effective, I think, is the dysfunctional vampire family of Spike, Angel, and Drusilla. I have to admit that as I re-watch these episodes, I'm remembering that the dynamic between these three really doesn't do much for me. I've become less enchanted with Spike and Drusilla since "What's My Line, Part 2". Rarely is the bickering between Angel and Spike over Drusilla at all interesting or memorable, and the emasculated Spike isn't particularly interesting to watch.
The episode does a really effective job of portraying the grief in the aftermath of Jenny's death, particularly on the part of Giles. At this point in Buffy, Giles is probably the show's most compelling character, for me anyhow. The mature perspective of Giles offers some standout moments (see "Never Kill a Boy on the First Date," "Lie to Me," and "Innocence") that help make this show more than just another teenage romantic relationship drama that happens to involve vampires and demons. It's appropriate that Giles bear the brunt of the grief from the show's first major character death, and his reaction continues to make his character more complex. In any case, the scene where he discovers Miss Calendar's body is extremely well done, so kudos to director Michael Gershman.
"The Harvest" was a threat to the audience, that anyone can die in Buffy, but this is the first time Joss and co. have made good on that threat.
You might expect that I'd say something here about Jenny Calendar as a character, and the kind of send-off she gets in this episode. And you'd be wrong. For the moment.