"You know how some people hate to say I told you so? Not me. I told you so. Angel's back in the really bad sense, and um, I told you so."
Keeping secrets from the characters can be a great way to gain additional mileage out of a single plot development. The writers employed this tactic earlier this season with Angel's return, first showing us his return, then Buffy's reaction upon learning of his return, then everyone else's reaction upon learning of his return (and learning that Buffy had been keeping things from them). In "Enemies," the same tactic is used again: even though we viewers already know that Faith is working with the mayor, revealing that fact later to the Scoobies gives the show the ability to continue milking that development for additional drama. And Seeing the development of Faith's relationship with the Mayor is a lot of fun. The sinister folksy charm that makes him such a unique and likable villain is really well-used in this new role as a sort of evil father figure.
The idea that the Scoobies would conspire to make it seem like Angel has lost his soul works on some levels but fails on others. it is a pretty clever plan, but it seems like a dirty trick in terms of the drama that it pretends to generate until we find out, very late in the game, that Angel was faking it and Buffy was in on it all along. That's a kind of obfuscation that can work on the right show (Lost, for example) but doesn't play very well on Buffy. Instead, it just seems to further cheapen the plot of season two, which is already somewhat cheapened by Angel's continued existence in the first place. It's frustrating in a way this show usually isn't, and it brings this episode way down, even if it is gratifying to see the plot move forward as it does.
- The notion that not all demons are evil has been in play for a while now, but I think this is the first time that Buffy has presented the slaying of a demon as an act of murder. It's pretty clear that's how we're meant to think of Faith's killing the demon who offers to sell the Books of Ascension.
- I've taken an interest in tracking the way the writers treat the relationship between Angel-with-a-soul and Angel-without-a-soul, or as it's sometimes framed, "Angel" and "Angelus." Dialogue in season two suggested that we should think of Angel as a single person who undergoes certain changes, not as two different people. This is the first episode which seems to suggest differently, with Angel (while pretending to have lost his soul) refers to himself as being back and having been gone, while other characters refer to last time he was around, and so on and so forth. He even states that Faith has "summoned him" by banishing Angel's soul. Also, this episode features the first time that Angel-without-a-soul is referred to as "Angelus" in contrast to Angel-with-a-soul being just "Angel."