Episode Title: Amends
Original Air Date: December 15, 1998
“Alright, I get it, you’re evil. Do we have to chat about it all day?” – Buffy
This week we pay an untimely festive visit to Sunnydale and while Buffy and the Scoobies are preparing for Christmas, Angel meanwhile finds himself being haunted by dreams of the people he has murdered over the years. However when Buffy finds herself being drawn into these nightmares, she soon begins to suspect that something else might be at play.
I will start by saying that this far from my favourite episode of this season, let alone any of four three episodes I have covered before this one, so of course there was the urge to use the excuse that because it’s a Christmas episode and we are in March that I could skip it, but then that’s not how we roll here at Channel Superhero.
Despite the fact that it’s Christmas in Sunnydale its far from the happiest of times for any of the group at this point with Willow still trying to reconnect with Oz, while Cordellia still wants nothing to do with either Xander or any of the Scoobies and Xander meanwhile has the prospect of sleeping out in the yard on Christmas Eve.
One of the main focuses of this episode is to start filling us in on Angel’s backstory as we get flashbacks to 1838 Ireland and London while he was still evil with the victims of this period aswell as his more recent turn to the dark side all coming back to haunt him, with the ghost of Jenny Calender in particular urging him to kill Buffy to release him from his pain. Of course Angel is unable to bring himself to do such a thing and instead plots to kill himself by waiting for the sun to come up, while also seeking to make amends with Giles for killing Jenny. These scenes between Giles and Angel are one of the scattering of few good moments that this episode has, with Giles pulling a surprise crossbow on him while truly keeping the audience on edge as he somehow manages to keep a calm and cool demeanour throughout this exchange.
This episode also marks the first appearance of “The First Evil” who despite the cool look they sport here with flesh over their eyes, are ultimately kind of a naff villain as would only be further reaffirmed when they showed up as the big evil in season 7. We also on a more subtle note get to see the influence of “The Powers That Be” who save Angel at the finale by making it snow and inturn blocking out the sun. There interference isn’t referenced in the episode but it certainly ties into the Buffy / Angel verse with all the fan guys seemingly agreeing that this is the reason for such a random occurrence.
So outside of Angel being all angsty and tormented the focus here is largely on Buffy, Willow and Xander as they all deal with their various issues, with Xander’s plotline here giving us the first hint of his troubled family life, as he chooses to spend Christmas Eve sleeping in the yard to avoid hearing his family fighting. Willow meanwhile is busy trying to lose her virginity with Oz as a way to reconnect with him, but while we get a lot of teasing clumsy seduction scenes between Willow and Oz with a healthy dose of Barry White thrown in for good measure, even if there is no payoff to these scenes other than them getting back together.
Ultimately a real misfire of an episode outside of the occastional subtle joke such as Joyce’s hasty reasoning for not inviting Giles to spend Christmas with them, still clearly remembering what they got up to back in “Band Candy” while Faith showing up after initially making her excuses to get out of it felt like such a timelife movie moment, though seeing how dark her journey is going to get we should appreciate these lighter moments with her.
Next Episode: Gingerbread