Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Buffy 3x10 - "Amends"

In this episode, Angel faces some demons from his past. Or rather, some people from his past, when he was a demon. It leads to a pretty interesting episode which does a lot to advance Angel's character arc. More after the jump.

"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."

- Buffy

In a lot of ways, this episode continues what was set up in "Becoming (Part 2)," with the groundwork being laid for Angel's own spin-off (and by this time I have to assume that Angel's development was already in full swing). Angel is continuing to grow beyond being simply a love interest for Buffy, and there are moments in this episode when it seems more like Buffy is a supporting character in Angel's drama than the other way around. Making amends for his past wrongdoings is the core of what motivates Angel, and it's now clear that his relationship with Buffy is only a part of that journey (albeit a very important part).

So while that makes a lot of sense and seems like a pretty logical place to take the character, what makes less sense is to cast Angel's struggle in this episode as a battle against the primordial First Evil. The questions that this raises are altogether too distracting in an episode that's ultimately about Angel and Buffy's own personal struggle with themselves and each other. It's not really necessary to drop the biggest conceivable Big Bad into this story just to play mind games with Buffy and Angel, especially when it isn't going to do much else. One might assume that this is a thread they intend to pick up on, but it's one that's left dangling for a very long time.

As for the schmaltzy "Christmas miracle" snow ending, well, it feels a bit out of place as well. But using a weather event to mark the outset of a new phase of development for a hero (in this case Angel) isn't too strange. I think overall, despite its problems, this episode holds together because of Joss Whedon's excellent writing and direction. The man does very well with surreal dream sequences, and this episode is a great example of this.

It's a bit of a shame that Jenny Calendar's return doesn't involve any kind of interaction with Giles, but her function in this episode, as an apparition of the First, is directly related to her death at Angel's hands, and there's enough going on in this episode without cramming that in there as well. Overall, the episode stands pretty well, and it serves as a fitting final send-off to the character, who is, as far as I can remember, rarely if ever mentioned again.


  1. I actually love this episode--and I must take issue with your notion that the storyline of The First is left dangling. True, It (He?) isn't mentioned again until season 7, but the story lays the groundwork for the idea of Angel being pivotal in the Apocalypse (or, perhaps "a Apocalypse")--and for the notion that there is definitively something beyond this realm, perhaps both good and evil, that is seeking either to save or to destroy him. Of course, we also later find out more about that miraculous snowfall

  2. This is one of the episodes I fell asleep during. You can imagine my confusion come season 7 when they're all like "Remember that time the First tried to get Angel to kill himself?"

    But seriously, I agree about The First being out of place here. I mean, by the way he/she/it is described, as the source of all the evil from whence all other villains of the show have sprung, he/she/it clearly has the makings of much more than a one-off villain. Yet, the characters treat him/her/it as such because the plot requires them to, and he/she/it is literally not mentioned again for almost 4 years. Seems irrational to me.