This is part of a bi-weekly series concerning the characterization of Buffyverse characters. The first installment in this series can be found here. Arguably the best place to begin reading this series is at the beginning, but that is up to each reader. As a reminder this column will cover major and some minor characters from the shows Buffy The Vampire Slayer (1997-2003) and Angel (1999-2004). Other Buffyverse media, such as the graphic novel Spike: Into The Light (2014) are not pertinent to this series. Also, there will be no referencing real world events in this bi-weekly series.
A celebration turns disastrous for a love affair. Meanwhile, the slayer must stop a gift from reaching its recipient.
(Warning of spoilers from this point on!)
Buffy Summers (Sarah Michelle Gellar) gets a new trait — she’s a bad driver — via a conversation between her and Joyce Summers (Kristine Sutherland). Buffy can be a heavy sleeper, as the end of this episode shows. We also learn her prophetic slayer dreams are apparently not a common occurrence from a conversation with Giles. This helps provide logic regarding Buffy’s difficulty interpreting these dreams. As for Buffy’s choice to sleep with Angel (David Boreanaz), it seems like feelings of fear and desperation are the motivating factors. These feelings come from almost losing their lives and the dreams she has.
Angel comes off as an irresponsible, hormonal teenager at the beginning of the episode. In my opinion, this is odd considering how stoic and secretive he acts up to this point in the show. As for new developments, he displays some knowledge about legendary demonic beings. Although, like most of the characters in this episode, he does not act in a logical way; he and the others are subject to the plot, at least to one extent or another
Rupert Giles (Anthony Stewart Head) shows a bit of hubris with his casual acceptance of the frequent evil happenings. Though, to be fair, he is also acting like a father figure to Buffy. Thus, he shows more concern for her happiness versus a suggestive dream. Other than this, we really don’t see much character development from him in this episode. This is rather odd considering the developments to Jenny Calender’s (Robia Scott as Robia LaMorte) characterization.
She comes off as rather weak at manipulating others. Specifically, she is rather obvious at picking Angel to take the arm out of Sunnydale. Also, she feels a bit at the mercy of the plot since she does not use magic to do one of the following things: simply wipe Angel and Buffy’s attraction to each other away, teleports him away, or strengthen the curse. Then again, it is rather foolish to put such an obscure, yet specific, escape clause in the curse to begin with.
Xander Harris (Nicholas Brendon) shows some maturity when he suggests progressing his and Cordelia Chase’s (Charisma Carpenter) romance. Unfortunately, he also shows great immaturity when he suggests a birthday spanking to Buffy. Not only is this inappropriate behavior, but he only doubles back on the comment due to Jenny’s reprimand. We also get a terrible character moment we he describes his fantasy of the future. The fantasy is deeply misogynistic and displays some of the worst of Xander’s personality.
Cordelia, Joyce, Willow Rosenberg (Alyson Hannigan), and Oz (Seth Green) all fail to get any major character development. Yes, Oz and Willow become a couple. And yes, Oz gets to learn about the supernatural. Cordelia, meanwhile, simply comes off as a ditz at the party; and negatively vocalizes her thoughts on a relationship with Xander. Yet, none of these developments really impact who the characters are as people. As for Joyce, she merely informs us of Buffy’s past failures at driving.
Uncle Enyos (Vincent Schiavelli), Dalton (Eric Saiet) and The Judge (Brian Thompson) are all plot device characters. Enyos, for example, provides the reveal that Jenny is a guardian of Angel’s curse. Enyos also has a mischaracterization by using an ethnic slur to refer to himself, Jenny, and their tribe. At the same time, his potential to affect this season, and the core characters, does not reach its potential fullness. He does not try to end Angel before the Angelus turn, and, like Dalton, he dies too soon (at least from my perspective). As for Dalton and the Judge, they really only serve to help create tension in this episode.
Spike (James Marsters) shows his protective nature by wheeling up to the Judge when he threatens Spike and Drusilla. There is also the way Spike forestalls Dalton’s fate by appealing to Drusilla (Juliet Landau). This shows Spike is a somewhat smarter villain than most antagonists of the decade since he does not kill good minions on a whim. Although, he also goes against his later characterization in Season 2, Episode 22, ‘Becoming: Part 2’. Yet, this is not a total inconsistency due to his devotion to his love (in this case Drusilla) being his motivation.
Drusilla displays actual menace when she threatens Dalton. She also displays how much she is captive to the whims of her madness. This occurs with her carefree attitude toward the Judge and with how she picks up Dalton’s spectacles and pats him on the head. There is one very interesting development regarding how she talks about dreaming about Buffy, meaning that fan fiction author touchstoneaf might be right in thinking Drusilla is either a former potential or a former slayer.
In conclusion this episode seems to rush some developments in. Sadly, a lot of them don’t get full exploration later.