Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Season 3 Episode 10


Aired Tuesday 8:00 PM Dec 15, 1998 on The WB

Episode Fan Reviews (33)

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  • It's Christmas at the Hellmouth, and an incoporeal evil presence from beyond the dawn of time is trying to manipulate Angel is his dreams. A welcome return for Jenny Calendar, not so much for Angel's Irish accent.

    I love Season Three. It's got the best villains, the highest average episode quality, a unique shortage of utter stinkers, and Willow's cutest haircut. But one thing about Season Three is jarring enough to push it out of the pole position in the race for best "Buffy" season, at least in my estimation: Angel. Angel doesn't fit in season three. In the episodes that don't focus on him, his appearances seem forced and contrived. In the episodes that do, all of the emoting being done on his part and on Buffy's seems a dim reflection of the untoppable catharsis of Season Two's finale. The writers and David Boreanaz are clearly just making time until "Angel" can get off the ground, and it's a disservice to a great character whose time on a great show had simply passed.

    "Amends" is by far the weakest of the "Buffy" episodes that Joss Whedon personally wrote and directed. There are a lot of internal problems that contribute to this. Among other things, there's a poorly conceived and badly explained bad guy. The First Evil isn't very interesting or very scary, and its ability to shapeshift is one of those concepts that just works better on the page than it does in practice. The First's lack of a single face and voice we can attach it to in our minds is a fatal mistake on a show that relies to such a large extent on the personality of its characters, villainous and otherwise. I still have no clue why Joss and company thought bringing back The First for the whole of Season Seven was a workable idea. In the case of "Amends," since The First is essentially unkillable, the episode has an uncomfortable and indefinite ending, compounded by the confused religious imagery that also crops up here seemingly more out of desperation than anything else. It's also a concern that the real cause of Angel's return from the hell dimension to which he was banished in "Becoming" isn't explained here. In fact, it's never been explained to my satisfaction on either "Buffy" or "Angel." Why didn't they just do an episode where God appears in the form of a network executive and preaches the gospel of maximizing revenue streams?

    "Amends" is well-directed, to be sure, and it's nice to see the enchanting Robia LaMorte back for one last hurrah as the ghost of Jenny Calendar. The more you consider the ramifications of the episode, however, the more uncomfortable you become. Buffy is ultimately a show about accepting individual responsibility, but in "Amends" the day is saved when...Baby Jesus makes it snow? What the hell? The episode's best scenes are those between Oz and Willow, but stylistically and thematically they're a million miles away from the Angel/Buffy/First stuff. While Oz and Willow are growing up and realizing that relationships have to be built around trust and full disclosure, Angel and Buffy continue on in deep denial about the untenability of their own romance. Whedon expertly uses smart casting, tight direction, and sharp dialogue to make us care about the fairly run-of-the-mill haunting storyline, but then he completely falters at the ending, where The First just gives up and goes away because...well, no reason and Angel ends up not killing himself because...it snows. This is stupid. We expect better from "Buffy." We especially expect better from Whedon. The less time spent dwelling on this bad apple in Season Three's tasty orchard, the better.