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BtVS Top #5 (tie)-- "Surprise"/"Innocence"

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  • BtVS Top #5 (tie)-- "Surprise"/"Innocence"

    These are popular episodes, and "Innocence" in particular is already widely acclaimed. While I could talk (or write) for hours about it, most of what I could say is redundant. Still, I have a few favorite moments that seldom get mentioned.

    Is Drusilla's freak-out over the red roses an Easter egg? I know, I've mentioned this before, but I'm probably never going to be able to look at the scene again without wondering, so why would I not make you think about it again, too?

    What is Dru's "normal" level of insanity? While Drusilla's mental state has been poor since Angel turned her, it seemed to worsen in tandem with her physical health throughout the early part of the season. Yes, she made some random remarks in "School Hard," but she controlled them enough to avoid interfering with Spike's work. In fact, she pushed Spike to spend more time earning the cult's respect and keeping an eye on possible insurrections. By "What's My Line," she was interrupting Spike's work with a request to dance and whimpering at a harsh word. Here, she's still easily distressed, despite her physical prowess. However, this isn't a permanent situation. Although their living situation is awkward enough to drive the sanest person to panic, she continues to grow happier-seeming during the period that Angel lives with her and Spike.

    My personal headcanon is that Dru took longer to recover mentally and emotionally than she did physically after the spell in "What's My Line." Whatever the reason, she goes through a period of particular emotional vulnerability during season 2.

    I've seen the argument made that Spike only pretends to be happy to see soulless!Angel because he knows he's vulnerable, but I don't buy it. Later in the season, when he has even more reason to be displeased with Angel and it looks less likely that Drusilla would protect Spike from Angel, he can't keep from yow-yowing at Angel about everything from not taking care of their "brassed-off Slayer" to Angel's selection of nests for them. In the short term, at least, Spike has some confidence that Angel won't just start offing members of his own line, and that Angel won't turn Dru against him. The jealousy that Spike exhibited in "What's My Line" takes a backseat to a strengthened alliance and a misguided sense of camaraderie? for now.

    If the Judge kills all the humans, what are the vampires going to eat? Humans in the Acathla dimension that Angel tries to open later in the season might still exist, albeit in a tortured state, so it might be a good place for some vampires, provided they weren't too into human hobbies. By contrast, the Judge wants to eliminate the staple food of all vampires, some of whom he also wants to kill for containing "humanity."

    Which leads me to think that something else is going on. Drusilla may claim that they're "going to destroy the world," but I think she's playing a different game. Destroying the world as we know it, maybe, rather than obliterating everything with humanity in it. Do she and Spike have a way to pull the Judge's strings? After all, when Spike taps his chest and tells him that he and Dru resurrected him, the Judge backs down. It's even possible that Dru foresaw that putting the Judge together would set in motion the restoration of Angel's soul, and anything else the Judge accomplished would just be a side bonus.

    I'm never sure why people think that Buffy and the Scoobies should not hate Jenny Calendar when they find out about the curse. Yes, Jenny has already begun to question the morality of her mission in Sunnydale, and she'll go on to prove her redemption seeking the lost ensoulment spell. That doesn't mean she isn't bad at this point in the show. She could've told Buffy about the "perfect happiness" clause. She didn't. I believe that Jenny's repentance is sincere, but a lot of damage has already been done, and I don't think her victims are obligated to forgive her for? well, everything her willful negligence lets Angel do between "Surprise" and "Becoming, Part 2." They're certainly not obligated to trust her again.

    So one of my all-time favorite Giles scenes is when he backs up Buffy on this one: She doesn't have to make Jenny feel better while preparing to kill her lover. If she wants Jenny to get out, then it's Jenny's job to GTFO. I also like the fact that Giles says it with calm finality, rather than fury, because he's decided that this is about Buffy, not about him and Jenny. As he says later, "All you will have from me is my respect. And my support."

    I sometimes wonder if there was a point at which Giles's drift away from Buffy's side could have been stopped. Was there one big thing, or just a whole bunch of little ones? Their relationship is never the same after her resurrection in "Bargaining, Part 1," but I think that's in large part because Giles was almost as relieved for Buffy's life to be over as she was, and he wasn't ready to be the emotional stability in his Slayer's life again. Maybe he didn't feel the reconnecting vibes at the end of season 4, or maybe, without his place in the Watchers' Council, he just felt too unmoored himself to support Buffy. Regardless, what we see of him in this episode is beautiful, and it's painful to know, in hindsight, that it'll all slip away.

  • #2
    Originally posted by ghoststar View Post
    I’m never sure why people think that Buffy and the Scoobies should not hate Jenny Calendar when they find out about the curse.[/B] Yes, Jenny has already begun to question the morality of her mission in Sunnydale, and she’ll go on to prove her redemption seeking the lost ensoulment spell. That doesn’t mean she isn’t bad at this point in the show. She could’ve told Buffy about the “perfect happiness” clause. She didn’t. I believe that Jenny’s repentance is sincere, but a lot of damage has already been done, and I don’t think her victims are obligated to forgive her for… well, everything her willful negligence lets Angel do between “Surprise” and “Becoming, Part 2.” They’re certainly not obligated to trust her again.

    So one of my all-time favorite Giles scenes is when he backs up Buffy on this one: She doesn’t have to make Jenny feel better while preparing to kill her lover. If she wants Jenny to get out, then it’s Jenny’s job to GTFO. I also like the fact that Giles says it with calm finality, rather than fury, because he’s decided that this is about Buffy, not about him and Jenny. As he says later, “All you will have from me is my respect. And my support.”
    Buffy does come to keep a TON of secrets from the gang- Angel's return, she runs away for three months without bothering to phone home, that Angel was re-ensouled in Becoming, the Enemies plot, the fact that Dawn is the Key even as she expects the gang to protect the Key, etc. I can't accuse Buffy of hypocrisy to Jenny because she hasn't done any of that stuff yet. (Although, she had been keeping that she was the Slayer from her parents- discounting the Normal Again retcon which I do.) However, it's something to consider when saying that Jenny deserved to be bodyslammed on her desk, broken up with, and cast out because she followed the secret-keeping orders of her family instead of sharing these long-held secrets with Buffy.

    Now, I can accuse Giles of hypocrisy. Giles has been so dishonest about his past that he made a show of pretending he was casting his first spell in Witch. He's the one who's been manipulating Buffy into not telling her parents that she's the Slayer and then, he committed Xander/Willow to secrecy from their friends/family as well. He personally and closely knew Ethan Rayne and knew that he was behind the Halloween spell that almost got Buffy killed but he said nothing and actively shooed Willow out of the Magic Box to keep his secrets as the crisis was happening. Then when Ethan's magic was actually killing people in The Dark Age, he continued to be a locked box refusing to key Buffy in on anything to solve these crimes and actually abused his authority as Watcher by telling her to butt out of a classic slayer-necessary investigation of paranormal murders. I think pretty much any of these things alone is worse than what Jenny did but in combination, woah.

    Now, I think Giles mostly rejected and broke up with Jenny because Buffy was so angry and in such pain. Giles didn't want to carry on any relationship that would hurt Buffy's feelings at such fragile and desperate time in Buffy's life. Generally, I don't think the Scoobies were that angry at Jenny over the deception. Xander and Willow looked very sympathetic to Jenny in BB&B. Willow was thrilled to have a friendly conversation with her mentor in Passion- and then, defended herself when Buffy gave her the stink-eye for it. Giles got together with Jenny the second that Buffy indicated that she was fine with it. I think most of the anger came from Buffy and the Scoobies kind of just fell into line to be supportive of Buffy. Now, I think there's a generosity and nobility for Giles to break up with the romantic interest that he loves to be there for the slayer/daughter that he loves. However, I do think it's counter-balanced by the hypocrisy described above.
    Last edited by Dipstick; 18-12-18, 08:06 PM.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Dipstick View Post
      Buffy does come to keep a TON of secrets from the gang- Angel's return, she runs away for three months without bothering to phone home, that Angel was re-ensouled in Becoming, the Enemies plot, the fact that Dawn is the Key even as she expects the gang to protect the Key, etc. I can't accuse Buffy of hypocrisy to Jenny because she hasn't done any of that stuff yet. (Although, she had been keeping that she was the Slayer from her parents- discounting the Normal Again retcon which I do.) However, it's something to consider when saying that Jenny deserved to be bodyslammed on her desk, broken up with, and cast out because she followed the secret-keeping orders of her family instead of sharing these long-held secrets with Buffy.

      Now, I can accuse Giles of hypocrisy. Giles has been so dishonest about his past that he made a show of pretending he was casting his first spell in Witch. He's the one who's been manipulating Buffy into not telling her parents that she's the Slayer and then, he committed Xander/Willow to secrecy from their friends/family as well. He personally and closely knew Ethan Rayne and knew that he was behind the Halloween spell that almost got Buffy killed but he said nothing and actively shooed Willow out of the Magic Box to keep his secrets as the crisis was happening. Then when Ethan's magic was actually killing people in The Dark Age, he continued to be a locked box refusing to key Buffy in on anything to solve these crimes and actually abused his authority as Watcher by telling her to butt out of a classic slayer-necessary investigation of paranormal murders. I think pretty much any of these things alone is worse than what Jenny did but in combination, woah.

      Now, I think Giles mostly rejected and broke up with Jenny because Buffy was so angry and in such pain. Giles didn't want to carry on any relationship that would hurt Buffy's feelings at such fragile and desperate time in Buffy's life. Generally, I don't think the Scoobies were that angry at Jenny over the deception. Xander and Willow looked very sympathetic to Jenny in BB&B. Willow was thrilled to have a friendly conversation with her mentor in Passion- and then, defended herself when Buffy gave her the stink-eye for it. Giles got together with Jenny the second that Buffy indicated that she was fine with it. I think most of the anger came from Buffy and the Scoobies kind of just fell into line to be supportive of Buffy. Now, I think there's a generosity and nobility for Giles to break up with the romantic interest that he loves to be there for the slayer/daughter that he loves. However, I do think it's counter-balanced by the hypocrisy described above.
      Giles is lying about a lot of stuff, but not about his reason for being in Buffy's life. He's honest with Buffy about the fact that his mission is to train and supervise Buffy in fighting the forces of darkness, likely until it gets her killed. In "Halloween," Buffy's AWOL and mind-wiped, and Willow can't yet work magic, meaning they can't help him with Ethan anyway, so I don't blame him for shooing Willow out of the building. He should've come clean faster in "The Dark Age," though.

      Jenny, though, was posing as a teacher who just happened to befriend them, when she was actually spying on the Scoobies on behalf of a cult hellbent, not on protecting anyone from evil, but on revenge against Buffy's lover. Even after Angel turns, Jenny doesn't volunteer her knowledge of the curse-- Buffy has to find out from a dream that Jenny's involved. That's pretty low in my book.

      As I said, I think that Jenny does atone over the rest of a season, and she dies a much better person than she lived until shortly before that point. Is she unforgivable to the audience? Not necessarily. Does that mean that the people she conned are morally obliged to forgive her? Nope. Especially before Jenny puts in the work on restoring Angel's soul, there's no reason why Buffy should do anything to make Jenny feel better about having betrayed her.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by ghoststar View Post
        Giles is lying about a lot of stuff, but not about his reason for being in Buffy's life. He's honest with Buffy about the fact that his mission is to train and supervise Buffy in fighting the forces of darkness, likely until it gets her killed. In "Halloween," Buffy's AWOL and mind-wiped, and Willow can't yet work magic, meaning they can't help him with Ethan anyway, so I don't blame him for shooing Willow out of the building. He should've come clean faster in "The Dark Age," though.

        Jenny, though, was posing as a teacher who just happened to befriend them, when she was actually spying on the Scoobies on behalf of a cult hellbent, not on protecting anyone from evil, but on revenge against Buffy's lover. Even after Angel turns, Jenny doesn't volunteer her knowledge of the curse-- Buffy has to find out from a dream that Jenny's involved. That's pretty low in my book.

        As I said, I think that Jenny does atone over the rest of a season, and she dies a much better person than she lived until shortly before that point. Is she unforgivable to the audience? Not necessarily. Does that mean that the people she conned are morally obliged to forgive her? Nope. Especially before Jenny puts in the work on restoring Angel's soul, there's no reason why Buffy should do anything to make Jenny feel better about having betrayed her.
        In Halloween, Ethan left an implicit threat. "Be seeing you." That was cause enough that Buffy should have been informed. Just because Willow can't work magic doesn't mean that she should be shooed away from the detective/town saving mission that she started on and alerted Giles too. The series constantly states that non-powered people have a purpose too in this fight. She could have helped Giles with the ritual under his guidance, she could have done detective work, heck she could have tag-teamed Giles with violence (as the two tag team in What's My Line against a vamp).

        First, I disagree that Jenny befriended the Scoobies to spy on them. Jenny wasn't working very hard on her Angel-spying mission which was why Enyos came over to yell at her. She didn't appear to take it seriously, which is why she didn't try to stop Bangel from happening until after Enyos made a special trip to scold her. Rather, Jenny was drawn into the Scoobies pretty naturally with no apparent manipulation on her part. She had a school-wide project to scan the library books. Then, she had to help banish the demon from the Internet. She noticed many signs of an encroaching apocalypse in Prophecy Girl and asked Giles about that, and then, Giles decided to give her assignments and recruit her into the Scooby gang. Then, Giles was the one to ask her out in Some Assembly Required. In practice, Jenny wasn't really posing as a teacher or Scooby gang member or Giles's girlfriend. Those were the identities that she enthusiastically took on. If anything, she was posing to her family as Angel's spy so that she gets to stay in California living independently which is why she was so lackadaisical about her project to the point that Enyos had to came all the way to California to yell at her.

        Second, I don't see much nobility in lying about a bunch of pivotal issues including ongoing cases and your magical skills when enlisting others in a nascent mission against paranormal threats vs. lying about your identity. I think it's worse to lie about active threats i.e. Ethan's active mischief in Halloween/The Dark Age than to lie about some "Write if Angel's still broody!" mission. Now, I agree that Jenny should have said something that night when Angel turned. However, I do give her some credit. She rushed to the school immediately and played her part in saving Willow's life when Enyos told Jenny that Angel turned. She doesn't say something in that short intense Scooby-meeting after Angel came to the school to kill everyone- but she didn't get a lot of time to come clean. Buffy got her dream that night and then, exposed Jenny early the next morning.

        Well, Buffy was point-blank wrong to body-slam Jenny on the desk with slayer-strength. As for the forgiveness issue, Buffy or Giles don't actually *anger* me because I can forgive that dealing with Angelus was such a huge, heart-rending, ongoing problem for Buffy that she saw red in terms of Jenny's small part in allowing this to happen. However, I do think that Jenny was punished for this offense WAY out of proportion to how other Scooby gang members were punished for far worse offenses. As far as betrayals go, this one wasn't so bad as Scooby-betrayals go but the ultimate effect was that Jenny was shut away from her purpose and her love until she died because Buffy couldn't bring herself to kill Angel. That hurts a lot as a Jenny-fan.
        Last edited by Dipstick; 18-12-18, 09:36 PM.

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        • #5
          I thought Jenny didn't even know about the happiness clause of the curse? That was something that had to be explained to her (and us) after Angel lost his soul. Or am I remembering things wrongly?

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Skippcomet View Post
            I thought Jenny didn't even know about the happiness clause of the curse? That was something that had to be explained to her (and us) after Angel lost his soul. Or am I remembering things wrongly?
            It's not clear. I think Jenny knew about the happiness clause. From Surprise:

            Jenny: Nothing has changed. The curse still holds.

            Enyos: The elder woman is never wrong. She says his pain is lessening.
            She can feel it.

            Jenny: (looks down) There is...

            Enyos: There is what?

            Jenny: (looks up) A girl.

            Enyos: (exhales in disgust) What? How could you let this happen?

            Jenny: I promise you. Angel still suffers. And he makes amends for his
            evil. He even saved my life.

            Enyos: So you just forget that he destroyed the most beloved daughter
            of your tribe?! That he *killed* every man, woman and child that touched
            her life?! Vengeance demands that his pain be eternal as ours is! If
            this, this girl gives him one *minute* of happiness, it is one minute
            too much!

            Jenny: I'm sorry. I thought...

            Enyos: You thought what?! You thought you are Jenny Calendar now?! You
            are still Janna, of the Kalderash people! A Gypsy.

            Jenny: I know... Uncle. I know.

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