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1997-2003 · episode guide

Buffy and Angel
The Slayer and the Vampire

Sometimes, greatness is hidden or isn't that obvious; both because of our traditions, our preferences, our prejudices. We construct our little world around us and rarely allow anything else to enter it except what we choose. In theory. When I first heard of a show called Buffy the Vampire slayer I wouldn't have dreamt of watching it. A high school girl called Buffy slaying vampires. Great, just what I needed. But then I came to watch some episodes out of mere analytical interest. And you know what? I fell in love with this show.

I started with some episodes of the second season. At first, the show seemed to be sort of a lighter X-Files version, but then the episodes 2.13 'Surprise' and 2.15 'Innocence' indicated and started something really much deeper, an emotional intensity which otherwise is rarely seen on tv. Somewhat light-hearted moments within other moments then seemed to be just a small distraction from the focus on Buffy and Angel, coming to a climax in episodes 2.17 'Passion' and the beautiful 2.19 'I Only Have Eyes For You'. And then, the tearful and katharsis-loaden finale of season two, 'Becoming', is just plainly and simply amongst the very best ever emerging from television.

Season Three still draws from the previous conflict between Buffy and Angel (3.08 'Lover's Walk', 3.10 'Amends', 3.17 'Enemies'), while at the same time introducing Faith, who later becomes a rogue slayer, a conflict which finds its well deserved finale in Buffy's Season Four, and Angel's Season One. Season Four, all in all, falls a bit aback, though it contains some of the best episodes of the series, both from a dramatic and a comedic standpoint, meaning episodes like 4.08 'Pangs', 4.09 'Something Blue', 4.10 'Hush' and 4.22 'Restless'.

Even if you, like myself, don't really believe in the existence of vampires, werewolves and the likes of them, this show has a strange appeal, unexplainable somehow, but on the other hand the explanation may lie in its above cited intensity, as well as in acting, dialog (a treasure chest for linguistics and cultural studies) and just this insane and sublime mixture of tragedy and humor, played out in a truly post-modern and self-ironic way. This world of horror, comedy, romance and tragedy is definitely worth watching.

May 25th, 1999 / May 20th, 2001


1999-... · episode guide

As a spin-off starting in a parallel time-frame relative to Buffy's Season Four, Angel immediately sets a darker tone, though it doesn't cut back the humor in any way. The mixture is basically the same as in its mother series, yet its conflicts are somewhat more complicated, larger in scope, uglier and - strangely - in a way more close to "real life", whatever that may be.

The main corrective for too dark a tone is Cordelia, that's for sure, but even she manages to grow up finally. After an initial shock, Wesley, as a rogue demon hunter, is an ideal choice for Angel's partner, providing even more continuity with the original series, and thus completing a cast of utmost diverse characters.

The killer with the angelic face, Angel, is explored in his deepest and darkest levels of pain and suffering. The series' mythology is extended and deepened, higher levels of authority are added, explaining Angel's destiny and the course of the series. The season comes to great heights in episodes like 1.08 'I Will Remember You', 1.11 'Somnambulist', 1.17 'Eternity' and the Faith-finale 1.18 'Five by Five' and 1.19 'Sanctuary'. This may be the finest first season in the history of television.

Angel is to Buffy what Millennium is to The X-Files, in that it is able to go into even greater depths, refining a concept which in itself has already been perfect. Yet there is one crucial difference: Buffy and Angel aren't really two different shows, it's more like the two protagonists of the original series have now gotten a perspective of their own to show. Neither of them is complete without the other, both depend on each other, fuel each other, complete each other. And when they meet, which happens time and again, it's not for the sake of completion, but because it's a natural thing to do.

If this show doesn't die a premature and undeserved death like Millennium and Crusade, there are no limits as to what can be achieved. Angel is amongst the very best television has to offer.

May 20th, 2001

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