Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Catching Up With Season 3 of Buffy: Amends

Regular readers know that I'm approaching the Buffyverse completely backwards, having seen all of the episodes of Angel last year and catching Buffy the Vampire Slayer on a hit or miss basis this year. I've seen all of Season 3 now of Buffy, three episodes of Season 2, and one episode from Season 4.

As I mentioned in my last post, I was heartbroken to have missed Season 3's "Amends" the first time around when MTV was briefly broadcasting Buffy episodes earlier this year. As I watch Buffy, my primary focus is to key in on elements that may give me a better understanding of what happened in Angel. So far I don't think I've had any huge "Eureka" moments, but at least I'm confirming that I did a fairly decent job of putting two and two together when I was trying to figure out the storylines in Angel.

For me, the big attraction for "Amends" was the implication that the yet-unnamed Powers That Be had performed a miracle and saved Angel's life by preventing him from immolating himself when the sun rose up on Christmas Day. (Angel was continuously being urged to kill Buffy and others through hallucinations that were conjured up by The First Evil, and Angel was afraid he wouldn't be able to resist much longer.) As you may remember, it snowed that day in Sunnydale, California for the first time time since who-knows-when, which prevented the sun from coming out at dawn and burning Angel to a crisp. Another attraction for me was how I wanted to see yet one more example of how writer, director and renowned humanist Joss Whedon approached the subject of Christian symbolism. Far from being a complete religion-basher, Whedon regularly embraced elements of Christianity and other religions and included them into his shows.

Joss Whedon routinely wrote those wonderful episodes for both Buffy and Angel that can make me melt into a sentimental puddle of water. "Amends" was one of his best efforts. I can technically see that some people might be put off by all of the weepiness between Tragic Lovers Buffy and Angel, but I adored every moment of those encounters. Sarah Michelle Gellar and David Boreanaz were sensational together, and I hope to some day put together a list of their Top 5 or 10 Favorite Romantic Scenes. The scene where she exhorted him to keep up the faith while he was waiting for the sun to rise was one of their best.

I also appreciated all of the other nice touches in this episode that, put together, made "Amends" start to look a lot like a heartwarming Christmas special. I saw how Willow and Oz got back together after he saw her smooching with Xander in a prior episode. I also adored the scene where Willow tried to seduce Oz (and therefore lose her virginity) in order to prove her love for him, only to have him reassure her that "I want it to be because we both need it to for the same reason. You don't have to prove anything to me." Awwww! How sweet!!!!!

Other life-affirming scenes I enjoyed were: Faith pretending to have other plans for Christmas, only to put aside her pride and show up to celebrate a nice-old fashioned Christmas with Buffy and Joyce; Giles deciding (off-screen) to put aside his differences with Angel (who, as Angelus, had killed Giles' girlfriend Jenny) and help him out; and the Scoobies surprising Buffy by showing up at the school library on Christmas Eve to help Giles and Buffy with their research on what was happening to Angel.

Closing Thoughts. I never considered myself to be overly-sentimental, but the Buffyverse seems to draw my hidden marshmallowness out into the open. There's something to be said about the right mixtures of the dramatic highs and the lows in a series to really heighten our emotions. Each change of pace within Buffy and Angel seemed to make everything more extreme, and increased the effectiveness of these individual episodes and scenes tremendously.

I'm always trying to figure out the scope of influence and the limitations of The Powers That Be. I thought maybe Buffy was hinting that perhaps the yet- unnamed Powers That Be were the ones who delivered Angel from Hell when she said, "Some great evil takes credit for bringing you back and you buy it? You just give up?" But I don't think she was really serious. Instead, I think Buffy was just doing everything she could to convince Angel to stay in the game.

If elements of this particular episode had taken place in Angel, there would have been some interesting power plays going on between Wolfram & Hart and The Powers That Be. Angel and his crew might have been convinced that Angel had been rescued by The Powers That Be, but it could have been revealed later on that Wolfram & Hart had retrieved Angel because he was a necessary figure for their Apocalypse.

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