AKA:  I can be your Angel… or I can be your devil

The Rule of Three

We begin not with Angel, but with the underground crew. The Anointed One, aka Colin, is throwing stones into a puddle as The Master recounts how many vampires (“his family”) The Slayer has killed.  Darla volunteers to solve this problem, while Colin simply suggests annihilation.  The Master decides to go with The Three.  He sure likes referring to folks with a “the.”

Meanwhile, the Scoobies are at something horrifyingly referred to as The Bronze’s Fumigation Party. It’s one last hurrah before it shuts down temporarily for some much-needed cockroach decimation.  Buffy is upset about her singleness.  She claims not to be bothered by this most of the time, but I feel like we just covered this concern a couple episodes ago.  After Willow expresses similar dreariness and Xander has a verbal sparring with Cordelia, Buffy’s decided she has caused enough melancholy in her friend group and heads home.

On her way home, she senses she’s being followed.  Indeed she is – by three vampires.  Perhaps The Three?  We won’t know for at least a few minutes, because it’s off to the theme song.

Slumber Party

Angel appears and starts throwing punches after attempting a quip about good dogs.  Perhaps projection of his desire to be a good boy himself?  They run to Buffy’s house and she lets him in to take cover.  He reminds her and the audience of that wonderful vampire lore:  they cannot come in without being invited.

She has him take off his shirt so she can tend to his wounds and oggle his tattoo (among other things).  Unfortunately Joyce comes in at that moment, and Buffy does everything in her power to keep her from seeing the hunky half naked man in the kitchen.  She tells her mom they bumped into each other on the street; she apparently invited him in because he’s her tutor.

Once Joyce goes to bed Buffy pretends to let Angel out the front door while actually sneaking him to her room.  Keep the eyebrow waggling to yourself, because they work out some very chaste sleeping arrangements, and Angel even turns away while Buffy changes – without peeking at her in the mirror, Xander.  They chat a bit, mostly about Buffy’s chosen one status and Angel’s dead family.  Ah, the meet-cute.

The next day, Xander is incensed at the recounting of the sleepover while Willow is enchanted.  Giles steers everyone back on track to the topic of The Three, who were indeed the three vampires hunting Buffy (and, incidentally, Angel).  Giles assures them that they will be offering their lives in penance for their failure.

Fight or Flight

We see The Master lecturing The Anointed One about the seriousness of taking a life.  Colin asks if they will be spared, which Darla answers with a resounding, dusty “no.”

Buffy and Giles are in weapons training.  She wants to play with the crossbow but her Watcher insists on working with the basics first.  She knocks him down down to the ground rather swiftly, which he deems as rounds to move on up to the crossbow.  Not that Buffy isn’t a proficient fighter or anything, but knocking Giles down is a pretty low bar, even as early as episode seven.

That night Buffy brings Angel some food and erroneously accuses him of reading her diary/Buffy-Angel fanfic.  Angel says he can’t be around her because he wants to kiss her when they’re together.  This is bad, because he’s older than her.  When she asks how much older he responds by… kissing her.  It’s a totally adorable and heartwarming smoochfest, until Angel gets a nasty case of vamp-face and jumps out the window.

Buffy recounts the incident the next day, asking if a vampire can ever be a good person.  Giles reminds her – and us – that a vampire is not a person at all, just a demon.  Xander admonishes her for being in love with a vampire just as Cordelia walks by, but she is too distracted about another girl wearing the same dress as her to hear Xander’s urging to slay Angel.

Time to stop living in the past

Angel enters a crypt to find Darla.  They apparently go way back.  She is not amused by his human-like antics or recent Slayer entanglement.  He melodramatically points out that he may not be human, but he isn’t exactly vampire anymore either.

It’s research time in the library, and Giles is actually reading some diaries – Watcher diaries to be exact.  Angelus was turned in Ireland roughly 240 years ago.  He wreaked havoc in Europe before arriving in America nearly 80 years ago.  Suddenly he was no longer killing.

Darla proposes to The Master that she convince Angel to kill Buffy and bring him back into the fold.  She figures if it’s a life-or-death situation he will do what it takes to protect himself.  The Master says he loves his happy family and how they work together.

In the library, Willow is tutoring Buffy.  But Buffy is more interested in talking about Angel (which gives Willow the opportunity to talk about Xander).  Willow is too nervous to talk to Xander about her crush, and Buffy is determined to avoid picturing anything with Angel.

Darla, meanwhile, has arrived at the Summers household.  She tells Joyce that she is helping Buffy study the War of Independence after Willow helps her with the Civil War.  Joyce fully believes her daughter needs three tutors amd invites her in to wait.  She offers her a snack, but probably doesn’t have the same thing in mind as Darla.

Bloodlust

Luckily, Angel is walking by the Simmerd house and hears the scream.  He bursts in to see a passed out Joyce.  Darla has only had a taste and encourages Angel to finish her up.  Unluckily, Buffy walks in on a vamped-out Angel holding her bleeding and unconscious mother.

Buffy throws him out through a window and threatens to kill him if he comes near them again.  She then calls an ambulance, saying her mom cut herself and lost a lot of blood. 

Xander, Willow, and Giles are in Joyce’s room, the latter much to the confusion of our patient (“The teachers at the school really do care!”).  The official story is she slipped and stabbed herself with a barbecue fork while making Buffy’s “friend” a snack.

Buffy blames herself for inviting Angel into her home.  She is mad that emotion trumped reason, so she prepares to retaliate… with death.  Giles says he is powerful and will require more than a stake.  Enter Chekov’s crossbow.

Darla is in Angel’s face egging him on.  She reiterates how much he must be missing his vampire bloodlust.  He breaks down and says he just wants this finished.

Giles and Joyce have a heart-to-heart about Buffy.  Joyce is concerned that Buffy is studying with Willow and Darla and still struggling with history.  Giles clocks the name and bids adieu.

Hot and Cold

Buffy shows up to her showdown with Angel.  He snarls that he’s just an animal, to which Buffy replies that no, she actually likes animals.  He goads her on while she asks why he would attack her this way.  This is where he details his trail of death over the years.  It only stopped after he killed a young Romani girl.  The elders of her group restored his soul as punishment.  Vampires don’t typically have a soul, and therefore have no conscience.  To have his soul restored meant remorse and guilt for every heinous act he had committed.  This is where he finally reveals he was not the one who attacked Joyce.

Darla appears.  She is upset that Angel has chosen not to come home to the family – especially as his sire and former lover.  She pulls out a couple of handguns and starts shooting.  The first shot hits Angel (who cannot be killed by bullet, just wounded) and starts in on Buffy.  Giles, Willow, and Xander appear and attempt to help.  After Buffy’s shot woth the crossbow misses Darla’s heart, Angel sneaks up and stakes her.  She has just enough time to see it was him before she turns to dust.

The Master is screaming and breaking things.  Darla was his favorite, and Angelus was meant to be his right-hand man.  Colin promises to bring him the Slayer and says to forget Darla and Angelus.

The Bronze has a Post-Fumigation Party, too, apparently.  Angel appears, and he and Buffy agree they would be an ill-fated couple.  That didn’t stop them before, and it sure isn’t stopping them this time:  it’s time to return to smoochfest.

What did we think?

“Half the episode is providing background on an old dude accompanied by his romance with a high schooler, the other half is bring your kid to work day.” – Trav’s one sentence review of this episode.

I am coming to this episode as a long-time fan of the show. However, I also come to this episode as a new audience member of the spinoff series Angel. I will fully own up to the fact that this biases me, because in the past I found Angel to be a tedious character. Now I fully get it. 4.5 out of 5 stars (4.5 / 5)

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