January 29th, 2021


Vampires of Affection

Many shows have holiday episodes but I think Buffy the Vampire Slayer is the only one to have two Valentine's Day episodes in a row. February 1998 brought "Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered" followed by "Passion". The first is a funny episode about Xander accidentally casting a love spell on every girl in town and the second is a strong dramatic episode about Angel.

What does it mean when a character goes evil on a show? We could talk about metaphors for how people change but I prefer to see it as what it is on the surface--a guy's soul suddenly being confiscated. Boy, is he ever sadistic in this episode, too, making good on his promise not to just kill people but to make them psychologically suffer.

Of course, this episode is famous for featuring the death of a major character, Jenny (Robia LaMorte). It is nice that the show was able to keep the stakes high though, to be honest, I tend to forget about Jenny if I haven't watched the show in a while. Which is ironic since a famous piece of the episode's background score is called "Remembering Jenny".

It's a nice piece of music and apparently Ed Sheeran thinks so, too, because he sampled it for his song "Afire Love" in 2014.

I like how the episode begins and ends with Angel (David Boreanaz) discussing the nature of passion. It's a little cheesy at first but by the end it's kind of fascinating that he actually seems a bit insightful even as he is clearly a complete psychopath.

The episode was directed by series cinematographer Michael Gershman who does a decent job except I don't think he knew how to direct actors. When Buffy (Sarah Michelle Gellar) finds an envelope on her pillow when she wakes up, I really think she should start to look disturbed before she opens it and sees Angel sketched her while she slept. Instead she looks like she's wondering if she coughed the thing up during the night.

The death of Jenny does work very well dramatically. The effect on Giles (Anthony Stewart Head) is very strong but I feel like Willow's (Alyson Hannigan) is even stronger. A connexion between the two is underlined when Jenny asks Willow to substitute for her and Willow gets really excited by the opportunity. It's brief but it does clearly convey how Willow looked up to Jenny and was gratified to be given such an opportunity. When Willow breaks down on hearing about Jenny's death, it does feel earned.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer is available in a lousy cropped format on Amazon Prime.