Episode title: Lie To Me
Original air date: November 3, 1997
“Things used to be pretty simple. A hundred years, just hanging out, feeling guilty. I really honed by brooding skills. Then she comes along.” – Angel
Another underrated episode this week as Buffy’s duties as a slayer once again attract the wrong kind of attention, this time from her friend Ford who has recently transferred from L.A. to Sunnydale. Little does she know that Ford is also a member of group of vampire fantasists with Ford soon making a deal with Spike to hand him Buffy in exchange for Spike turning him into a vampire.
Opening with possibly one of the creepiest scenes to date with a young boy sitting on a climbing frame waiting for his mum, who seemingly has forgotten to collect him, which is only made the more worrying by the fact it’s completely pitch black. It’s at this moment that we also see Drusilla, who is strangely minus Spike, yet with a shark like air to her proceeds to try and steal the boy away only to be stopped at the last moment by the appearance of Angel. While this scene could have burst into some fun vamp vs vamp kung fu action, what we get instead is a subtle and tension filled moment as he attempts to persuade her and Spike to leave Sunnydale while hinting at a deeper connection between them and one which we learn more about later in the episode. The fact that the exchange is witnessed by Buffy from a rooftop, who assumes that something else is happening between them adding only further to what is already a great opening.
So with Buffy assuming that Angel is playing away and worse still with the enemy, the timing is of course almost too perfect for her old crush and friend Ford to make a sudden reappearance. However before we get into Ford’s hidden motives its worth highlighting a few things about Buffy and Angel’s relationship which have only become more obvious on this recent rewatch as in this episode they really step up their relationship by openly admitting their love for each other, which seems kind of fast seeing how only a couple of episodes back it was unclear if they were even in a relationship as Angel ummed and err’d about asking Buffy to go for a cup of coffee, so to have this scene seemed kind of strange much like how little fuss is made over this moment.
This episode really helps to build upon what was started in “School Hard” as we find out more about Drusilla’s past, especially when Angel was the one to sire her we discover here, as he too reveals part of his dark past prior to him being given a soul, with his reveal of how he sired Drusilla being an especially dark piece of this puzzle.
With Joss Wheldon on both writing and directing duties, this episode is a lot heavier on the quotable dialogue content, while he also takes the moment to further tinker with the rules his vampires operate under in this universe, having already changed the meaning of “Sire” to a mentor vampire rather than the vampire who created them. Here his subtle tinkering explore the change from human to vampire further with Buffy explaining that when you turn you die and a demon takes over your body with full access to your memories and feelings. Wheldon in one swift move wiping out any romantic notions of eternal life as he highlights that you won’t be the one living on despite the surface appearance!
Its unclear if Wheldon was using this episode to take a dig at the romantised ideas about vampires by having the group Ford belongs to feeling that vampires are misunderstood creatures, rather than the aggressive and dangerous killers we all know by this point that they are. Equally interesting is the real reason for Ford’s interest in becoming a vampire due to having terminal brain cancer, something which seemed to have been pulled out of nowhere the first time I watched this episode, but upon this rewatch there are numerous scenes in which he can be seen taking anti-nausia meds. This makes an interesting change from the usual reasons that we have previously seen characters wanting to be turned, though it remains to be seen if vampirism would have stopped the effects of his illness or not.
While perhaps not the most standout of episodes, it still has some great lines and an interesting plot while subtly managing to fill in some more of the background information on both Drusilla and Angel. This is an overlooked episode worth giving a revisit.
Next Episode: The Dark Age