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SURPRISE (ep #2.13)

(a.k.a. Why Not to Celebrate Buffy's Birthday, Part 1)

Written by: Marti Noxon
Directed by: Michael Lange
Starring: Sarah Michelle Gellar as Buffy Summers
Nicholas Brendon as Xander Harris
Alyson Hannigan as Willow Rosenberg
Charisma Carpenter as Cordelia Chase
David Boreanaz as Angel
Anthony Stewart Head as Rupert Giles
Guest Starring: Seth Green as Oz
Kristine Sutherland as Joyce Summers
Robia LaMorte as Jenny Calendar
Brian Thompson as The Judge
Eric Saiet as Dalton
Vincent Schiavelli as Uncle Enyos (Special Guest Star)
James Marsters as Spike
Juliet Landau as Drusilla

Plot Summary

Drusilla and Spike's plans to reassemble the Judge interfered with plans to celebrate Buffy's 17th birthday.

Plot Details

The show opened with a dream sequence. Buffy woke up and steped into the Bronze, followed by Drusilla. In French, Willow told a monkey that the hippo stole the monkey's pants. Buffy's mother then asked if Buffy really thought that she was ready. Before Buffy could answer, Joyce dropped a saucer. Buffy smiled when she saw Angel, but looked horrified when she saw Drusilla stake him. He turned to dust before she could touch him.

That morning, a very anxious Buffy went to see a conveniently topless Angel. Angel reassured her that he was still alive (actually undead) and that Drusilla was not. A bit of kissing interrupted any more Buffy anxieties. Neither Buffy nor Angel seemed eager for Buffy to go to school.

At school, Buffy and Willow discussed Buffy's feelings for Angel. Buffy was wondering whether she should have sex with Angel (without actually saying "sex"). With Willow's encouragement, Buffy decided that she might. She then encouraged Willow to approach Oz, which Willow did reluctantly. Willow and Oz had a conversation that was only semi-awkward. It ended with Willow deciding to bring Oz to Buffy's surprise party as a date. She was very proud that she said "date."

Meanwhile, Xander thought that it would be a good idea if he and Cordelia went to Buffy's party together. Cordelia disagreed. She did not want to admit that their closet groping constituted a relationship, especially one that she would want to become public. Xander did not take this too well.

Giles took Buffy's dream a little more seriously than Buffy did. He recognized that the possibility that Drusilla was alive was not good. Buffy admitted that the fact that Angel died in her dream was making her more anxious.

Drusilla and Spike (currently in a wheelchair) were planning a party to celebrate Drusilla's return to health. The party involved gifts that the audience was not allowed to see yet. I have a feeling that they will be part of an important plot point in an act or two.

At home, Buffy hinted to her mother that she would like to get a drivers license. Joyce was uncertain and asked if Buffy really thought that she was ready. Joyce then dropped the plate she was holding.

A strange man with an overblown accent startled Jenny in her classroom. He told a very intimidated Jenny that Angel's curse was weakening. She responded by saying that Angel was atoning for his sins. The man would hear none of that. It appeared that her name is really "Janna" and that they belonged to the gypsy clan that cursed Angel. He demanded that she end Angel's relationship with Buffy.

In the library, an enthusiastic Willow and Xander found Buffy less than enthusiastic. She was even more unnerved now that part of her dream came true. When she left, Xander and Willow concluded that the party would be cancelled, but Giles insisted that it will go forward.

When Buffy arrived that evening, Jenny found her and said that Giles wanted to meet at his home. Jenny offered to drive her there. On the way, Buffy noticed some vampire activity outside the Bronze and decided to intervene. She found Dalton and two other vampires trying to load something onto a truck. She managed to stake one in the truck and dragged the other into the Bronze where she staked him with a drumstick (the real kind, not a chicken leg) without noticing Willow, Xander, Giles, Angel, Oz, and Cordelia crouching and ready to shout surprise. Most of them simply watched, but Cordelia decided to shout "surprise" anyway.

Most of the characters have seen this before, but this was the first time that Oz saw a staking. Fortunately, he seemed to accept what he saw with only a brief explanation from Xander.

Jenny thought to recover the package that Dalton was trying to steal. It contained an arm that tried to choke Buffy. Angel managed to pry it off her and put it back into the box. Angel speculated that Drusilla was trying to reassemble The Judge, a demon created to destroy all traces of humanity. Cordelia wanted cake, but Giles wanted to discuss getting the arm out of town. Jenny volunteered Angel.

Drusilla was not happy with Dalton. She wanted to poke his eyes out, but Spike suggested giving him another chance.

At the docks, Angel gave Buffy a Claddah ring, which symbolized their bond. They shared a tender moment that Dalton and a couple of other vampires interrupted. Unlike typical vampires, these seem to have a strategy. At any given time, two of them tried to occupy Angel and Buffy while the third tried to run off with the box. Eventually, one vampire tossed Buffy into the ocean. Angel followed, leaving the box to the vampires.

Giles did more research on the Judge. Apparently only true evil can survive an encounter with the Judge, and no weapon forged can stop him. The group concluded that they needed an all-night study session.

Giles, Willow, Xander, Jenny, and Angel all researched while Buffy took a nap. This gave her the opportunity to have another dream. In this one, she wandered around Drusilla and Spike's lair where she saw Drusilla about to slit Angel's throat.

The party started in the lair. Boxes were assembled and out popped a large blue thing, the Judge. He was concerned that Spike and Drusilla were too human in that they felt love and jealousy. Spike reminded him that they put him together, so the Judge had to satisfy himself with zapping Dalton instead, much to Drusilla's pleasure.

Buffy woke with a plan. She and Angel were going to the factory to see if the Judge has been assembled while the others staked out transportation hubs to intercept any more boxes that might be coming in.

Angel and Buffy were alarmed to find that the Judge was fully assembled and walking around the room. They were even more alarmed when two vampires were able to capture them without much of a fight. They escaped just as the Judge was about to zap Buffy.

Buffy and Angel return to his home. An examination of a cut on Buffy's back led to romantic music and culminated in a fade to white as Buffy and Angel made the beast with two backs (as Shakespeare would say). While sleeping together, Angel woke, ran into the rain in an alley (putting on his clothes between cuts), and screamed Buffy's name.

The Good

Spoilers are evil. I decided that each of these reviews would be spoiler free (except for the questions at the bottom) and would even warn users of potential spoilers in the DVD extras. Most of the time, I have no problem doing so. However, it is very difficult to review this episode without showing how it affects the rest of the season and even the rest of the show.

I will say that I took a break from writing these reviews so I could work on the an update of the Phi Phenomenon. I made a point of working through episode #24 ("Bad Eggs") so I could have this episode and the ones to follow to look forward to.

The Bad

The primary job of this episode is to set up the next episode, so little is resolved.

Overall Rank: 22

Action: 3

Buffy staked two vampires at the Bronze.

Vampires interrupted Buffy and Angel's romantic moment on the docks and tossed her into the water.

Comedy: 0

Other than a few amusing lines, there was little comedy in this episode.

Drama: 8

Buffy's first dream caused a great amount of anxiety that carried over for most of the episode.

Romance: 7

A round of kissing interrupted Buffy's anxious description of her dream.

Oz agreed to go to Buffy's party as Willow's date, whereas Cordelia refused to go as Xander's date.

Buffy and Angel had a tender moment on the docks when they were saying goodbye.

It is tempting to place the final interaction between Angel and Buffy in "Action," but it really belongs here.

Character Development: 4

Oz learned that vampires are real. He did not find this news to be particularly surprising.

Jenny is a member of the gypsy clan that originally cursed Angel. She was supposed to observe his suffering and report back to her clan. Apparently, she had been slacking off on those duties lately. She thinks of herself as "Jenny Calendar, Computer Teacher," but still feels a duty to her clan.

Drusilla appears to still hold a grudge against Angel. She would rather have him suffer by watching Buffy die than have Buffy suffer by watching Angel die. She also seems to have a more balanced relationship with Spike now that she is healed.

Importance: 8

For reasons that will be discussed in the analysis of "Innocence," these two episodes mark a turning point for the show.

Other minor reasons for the importance of this episode include the advancement of the Willow / Oz relationship and background information on Jenny Calendar.

Most Valuable Player: Drusilla

Being a set-up episode, there are no good candidates for this honor. Dalton did recover the arm, but only after losing it to Jenny in the first place. In any case, the reassembling of the Judge did not bode well for Dalton. Oz gets some consideration for maneuvering Willow into asking him for a date and making her think that it was her idea. However, Drusilla gets the MVP for successfully assembling the Judge.

Sherlock Holmes Award: Angel

Angel figured out that Drusilla was attempting to put the Judge back together again. Giles gets a bit of credit for discovering a bit more information about the Judge from his books.

Goat of the Week: Angel

There are several candidates. Dalton not only failed to transport the arm without attracting Buffy's attention, but he neglected to recover it when Buffy was busy fighting the other two vamps. Furthermore, his endeavor simply led to the creation of the demon that eventually killed him. Buffy also deserves consideration for reasons that will become clear in the next episode. Jenny failed to separate Buffy and Angel. Even Uncle Enyos deserves consideration for failing to disclose something that he should have.

However, Angel is the goat of this episode. When Buffy fell into the ocean, he abandoned the arm to leap in even though there was no evidence that Buffy was in peril. I do not want to get into how much damage this decision will cause for the rest of this season and beyond.

Random Commentary

It is very unlikely that a person who fits that ethnic category would use the word "Gypsy." "Romany" (or analternate spelling of such) is more widely used.

DVD Extras

Interview with Joss Whedon Joss Whedon discussed his discomfort in shooting the Buffy and Angel love scene as well as Sarah Michelle Gellar's and David Boreanaz's lack of discomfort. He also discussed the last minute decision to make Jenny Calendar a Gypsy. There are spoilers for the next episode.

Memorable Dialogue

"I dreamt that Giles and I opened an office-supply warehouse in Vegas." Buffy

"I like his hands." Willow
"A fixation on insignificant detail is a definite crush sign." Buffy
"Well, I don't know, though. I mean, he is a senior." Willow
"You think he's too old 'cause he's a senior? Please, my boyfriend had a bicentennial." Buffy

"Our band's kinda moving towards this new sound where we suck." Oz

"I'm gonna ask you to go out with me tomorrow night, and I'm kinda nervous about it, actually. It's interesting." Oz
"Well, if it helps at all, I'm gonna say yes." Willow
"Yeah, it helps. It creates a comfort zone. Do you wanna go out with me tomorrow night?" Oz
"Oh, I can't!" Willow
"I like that you're unpredictable." Oz

"I said 'date.'" Willow

"I should keep my slayer cool, but it's Angel, which automatically equals maxi-wig." Buffy

"I woke up feeling more responsible, mature, and level-headed."
"Really, that's uncanny." Joyce
"I now possess the qualities one looks for in a licensed driver." Buffy

"You dreamt that the Master had risen, but you stopped it from happening." Giles
"You ground his bones to make your bread." Xander
"That's true, except for the bread part." Buffy

"Looks like Mr. Caution Man, but the sound he makes is funny." Xander
"Buffy's surprise party will go ahead as we planned, except I won't be wearing a little hat." Giles
"But Buffy and Angel..." Willow
"... May well be in danger as they have before, and, I imagine, will be again. One thing I've learned here in my tenure on the Hellmouth is that there is no good time to relax. Buffy's turning 17 just this once, and she deserves a party." Giles
"And anyway, Angel's coming, so she'll be able to protect him and have cake." Willow

"Hey, did everybody just see that guy turn to dust." Oz
"Well, sort of." Willow
"Yep, vampires are real. A lot of them live in Sunnydale. Willow will fill you in." Xander

"Let's look at the upside for a moment. What kind of future would she have really had with him? She's got two jobs: Denny's waitress by day, slayer by night. Angel's always in front of the TV with a big blood belly, and he's dreaming of the glory days when Buffy still thought this whole creature of the night routine was a big turn on." Xander
"You've thought way too much about this." Willow
"Nah, that's just the beginning. Have I told you the part where I fly into town in my private jet and take Buffy out for prime rib." Xander

"A true creature of evil can survive the process. No human ever has." Giles
"What's the problem? We send Cordy to fight this guy, and we go for pizza." Xander

"You're not clear on the concept, pal. There is no instead, just first and second." Spike

Characters in Peril


Evil Escaped

Departed Characters Remembered

Buffy and the Law

Spoiler Questions

Highlight the space after each question to find the answer. It is strongly recommended that you do not do so if you have not seen episodes through the episode indicated.

This page was last modified on November 7, 2012