Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Season 2 Episode 13

Surprise (1)

Aired Tuesday 8:00 PM Jan 19, 1998 on The WB
out of 10
User Rating
732 votes

By TV.com Users

Episode Summary

Buffy's seventeenth birthday arrives, and the Scoobies prepare a surprise birthday party for her. But when the gang discovers that Spike and Drusilla are planning their own party, Angel may have to leave Sunnydale to keep Dru's party guest, the Judge, from painting the town red.

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  • Surprise (1)

    A powerful and compelling two part romantic tragedy that will go down in history as a classic. These episodes also completely change the tone and the scope of what this series is going to do from now on. BtVS has just went from a fun show with a handful of standout episodes to groundbreaking and spellbinding television. This is superb material with a masterful setup and a grand slam finale. Where "What's My Line? Pt. 1" (2x09) and "What's My Line? Pt. 2" (2x10) failed, these episdoes succeed. It is exhilarating to watch them each and every time! I have a few minor complaints that rob it from being a 100, but by and large this and "Innocence" (2x14) are absolutely perfect.

    It begins with BtVS's creepiest scene yet. Buffy is dreaming that she is walking down the hallway outside her bedroom. While she is walking Drusilla starts walking right behind her in that black outfit she was wearing at the end of "What's My Line? Pt. 2" (2x10), with blood dripping down her mouth. This scene always gives me the goosebumps. Buffy proceeds to open a door which leads into The Bronze where a somewhat surreal song is playing in the background. She walks by Willow who is sitting at a table with a monkey (remember, all monkeys are French!), and then Buffy spots Angel and smiles. They exchange some romantic glances when Drusilla appears out of nowhere behind Angel and stakes him. There's a beautiful shot here where Buffy and Angel's hands are trying to touch each other as Angel's hand then body slowly disintegrates away. Buffy is in shock and Drusilla says, "Happy birthday Buffy." She then wakes up in panic. What a haunting introduction dream! I love it!

    The Buffy and Angel romance is propelled into full heat mode now. They even have a theme song for their love which I think is perfect. Buffy heads to Angel's place first thing in the morning after waking up from her nightmare to see if he's alright. Angel tries to sweetly reassure her that there isn't a problem. They kiss a bunch and the scene ends with Buffy saying "I like seeing you at bedtime" out of context. This stirs up some heat, though, and gets the hormones running a little wild. So Buffy finally heads to school and tells Willow everything that happened. Willow's all cute and wide-eyed saying "woah" over and over again after hearing Buffy admit that she thinks Angel and her are going to sleep together soon. All of this stuff is setting up the fact that Buffy is preparing herself to give up her virginity to Angel, and is handled very well by SMG.

    While Buffy and Angel are in hormone land, Oz and Willow are beginning to bud into a couple which is accomplished through the wonderfully cute scene outside. This relationship really begins, though, in the next episode. I complained in the last review that if the Xander and Cordelia relationship didn't move beyond groping in broom closets I'd grow tired of it. Well, fortunately Xander steps up and tries to convince Cordelia to go to Buffy's surprise birthday party as a 'couple.' Cordelia unfortunately shuts him down, but at least Xander is trying to mature this relationship.

    Also getting a surprising amount of development is Jenny Calendar. We find out that she's not just a Computer Science teacher, but also a member of the same gypsy tribe that originally cursed Angel. It turns out she was sent to Sunnydale to make sure Angel keeps suffering. This revelation is handled perfectly. At first it looks like Jenny's going to turn completely against the group just because her uncle showed up, but I'm happy to say this show isn't stupid, so that doesn't happen. Instead we get a person torn between her obligation to her people and her obligation to her friends. She does what she can to separate Buffy from Angel by taking advantage of the opportunity to send Angel away with The Judge's arm, but Angel would have been the likely person to do this task even if Jenny hadn't suggested it right away. Aside from this, though, she really doesn't want to hurt Buffy nor does she know what will happen if Buffy gives Angel a moment of true happiness.

    The surprise birthday party at The Bronze was fun. The gang is trying so hard to give Buffy a nice and normal party but the vampires outside ruin the whole atmosphere. Then The Judge's arm really solidifies her failed party. This leads to the romantic moment on the docks, which seemed overly sappy, but once you've seen "Innocence" (2x14) you realize that all this love talk makes what happens next so devastating. The ring Angel gives to Buffy, though, is genuinely romantic.

    All of this quickly leads to their encounter with The Judge, which they barely escape from. They flee to Angel's place all wet. Things quickly get closer as Angel asks to look at a cut on her back. I love how Buffy is not sure whether or not to cover up her chest. After some tender touches the actors do the best they can exchanging lines like "I love you. I try not not but I can't stop" and "Me, me, too. I can't either." This whole scene is handled very well and comes across as both tender and pretty romantic. They both then bend down onto the bed and then the screen flashes. We see them sleeping happily in bed together when abruptly Angel gets up and runs outside screaming in pain. "To be continued." Quite the cliffhanger (though not if you have the DVDs)!

    I do have a couple small complaints about this episode, though, first of which is Buffy saying "we never saw a body" while discussing Drusilla, who would be dust if she was dead. My only other problem is with The Judge. First of all, he looks dumb even though I'm very pleased Whedon makes fun of this in the next episode. Secondly, he respresents yet another dumb armageddon plot. They really overdo these in these first couple seasons. Luckily they make fun of them more in S3 and S4. Overall, though, this is quite a fantastic setup for the amazing "Innocence" (2x14).moreless
  • Season 2 become golden


    The Good;

    Everything! Buffy's opening dream is superb. The fight, the Judge, Dru and Spike and THAT ending! Also the clever way you think Jenny is leading Buffy astray but is actually just leading her to the party. Love Oz's reaction to discovering the truth about Sunnydale

    The Bad;

    Are you crazy, this is Buffy at it's best!

    Best line;

    Dru; (after the Judge burns Dalton) "Do it again! Do it again!"

    Questions and observations;

    Xander mentions giving Buffy a 'pre-birthday spanking', a display of kinkiness that will become apparent in all the Scoobies to a greater and lesser degree over the course of the series. Jenny back in the gang but with her true self revealed, all the Scoobies keeping secrets over the years. Buffy loses her virginity, as the age of consent in California is 18 this is technically statuatory rape. Oz refers to past groupies although he doesn't have any now

    Spike in a wheelchair, he seems reluctant to release the Judge, again showing his more human side. The Judge senses it, commenting that Spike and Dru share jealousy and affection (love Spike's confrontation with him "Yeah, what of it mate!?" as though the judge has spilled his pint or something). Dalton also seems to have retained some humanity (enough for the Judge to burn him), perhaps because he was sired by Dru or Spike? The fact that reading is considered sufficently un-demon like behaviour to warrant a fiery death speaks volumes as to why humanity rules the Earth and demons don't any more ('fire, TV and opposable thumbs'). Dru hates the flowers, I thought roses were supposed to repel vamps anyway? Brian Thompson back again and the wonderful Vincent Schavelli.

    Why not just sink the Judge's arm into the Pacific? Why does Dalton still need his glasses, surely as a vamp his eyes would have healed up like Darla's heart condition and Spike's mum's tuberculosis? Maybe they're just for effect? Small point that Xander says "Hello mom" on the phone and then still needs to say "It's Xander". Does he have siblings or is she just too drunk to understand what he said?

    10/10 and more!

  • One of the best plot twists in the series.

    When I say I'm a Buffy and Angel fan, that is putting it mildly. I love these shows and I think I will continue to do so until the end of time. "Surprise" is a great episode. From start to finish it delivers. It's Buffy's seventeenth birthday but nothing goes as planned. I love all the character's interactions in this episode. And of course it's a personal fave because Buffy and Angel have sex. I love the parrallels in this episode too. It helps to show young people that there are risks involved in being sexually active. Granted most people after sex don't become murdering psychopaths but you get the picture. Angel's transoformation was both brutal and unexpected. I was very excited to see what else was in store for us as viewers.moreless
  • Surprise

    Surprise was the 1st of a midseason double episode special and it was Perfect Buffy! I really enjoyed watching this awesome episode from the begining in Buffy's Dream World with lots of interesting sights to be seen. I thought that the main story was excellent, and engaging to viewers challenging them a bit. I thought Druscilla was superb in her crazy plots and behaviors. I think that Druscilla and Spike are very interesting villians, and I hope they stick around a while. I also couldn't believe the ending of this episode, it was quite surprising and I find myself on the edge of my seat to find out what happens next!!!moreless
  • Season 2, Episode 13.

    It is finally Buffy's 17th birthday. She is having dreams about Drusilla killing Angel, and different parts of the dream begin coming true. Meanwhile, Angel may need to leave town for several months to prevent Spike and Drusilla from forming The Judge.

    This episode was so good! Angel was naked so much! I loved it! But this was also a tragic love story about characters I already love, so it was dramatic, and a little intense and sad. Anyway, this is a good episode. That's a lot for anyone to go through, including the vampire slayer on her birthday, or at all. Excellent episode.moreless
Brian Thompson

Brian Thompson

The Judge

Guest Star

Eric Saiet

Eric Saiet


Guest Star

Vincent Schiavelli

Vincent Schiavelli


Guest Star

Mercedes McNab

Mercedes McNab


Recurring Role

Seth Green (I)

Seth Green (I)


Recurring Role

Kristine Sutherland

Kristine Sutherland

Joyce Summers

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (6)

    • This episode marks the beginning of a series tradition of Buffy's birthdays going awry.

    • The license plate on Jenny's car reads 2FAN321.

    • Nitpick: After Buffy and Angel crash through the factory floor, they escape up a ladder. Considering the short distance they go, the ladder should lead them back up into the factory. When they come out the manhole cover, not only are they not in the factory, they are nowhere near it.

    • Goof: In one shot where the Judge is burning the red-shirt clad vampire, Spike is holding Drusilla's arm, but in the next he is holding her hand.

    • Goof: After Buffy and Angel make love and Angel awakes in pain, Buffy's arm is down by her leg then in the next frame, her arm is up by her head, then back down to her leg again and back up.

    • Nitpick: Buffy tells Angel that Drusilla may still be alive because they never found her body. But vampires turn to dust when they die - there would not be a body if she were dead.

  • QUOTES (13)

    • Buffy: You almost went away today.
      Angel: We both did.
      Buffy: Angel, I feel like I lost you. You're right though, we can't be sure of anything.
      Angel: Shh... I...
      Buffy: You what?
      Angel: I love you. I try not to, but I can't stop.
      Buffy: Me too. I can't either. (they start to kiss)
      Angel: Buffy, maybe we shouldn't.
      Buffy: Don't. Just kiss me.

    • Willow: Do you guys, uh... have a gig tonight?
      Oz: Oh, no. Practice. See, our band's kinda moving towards this new sound where... we suck, so... practice.

    • The Judge: (to Spike and Dru) You two stink of humanity. You share affection and jealousy.
      Spike: Yeah. What of it? Do I have to remind you that we're the ones who brought you here?

    • Giles: His touch can literally burn the humanity out of you. A true creature of evil can survive the process. No human ever has.
      Xander: What's the problem? We send Cordy to fight this guy, and we go for pizza.

    • Giles: Dreams aren't prophecies, Buffy. You dreamt that the Master had risen, but you stopped it from happening.
      Xander: You ground his bones to make your bread.
      Buffy: That's true. Except for the bread part.

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

    • Willow: Carpe diem. You told me that once.
      Buffy: Fish of the day?
      Willow: Not carp, carpe. It means "seize the day."
      Buffy: Right. I think we're going to. Seize it. Once you get to a certain point, then seizing is sort of inevitable.
      Willow: Wow.
      Buffy: Yeah.
      Willow: Wow.
      Buffy: Ooh.
      Willow: Wow.

    • Buffy: This is nice. I like seeing you first thing in the morning.
      Angel: It's bedtime for me.
      Buffy: Well, then, I like seeing you at bedtime. Uh, eh... You know what I mean.
      Angel: I think so. What do you mean?
      Buffy: I like seeing you.

    • Drusilla: These flowers... are wrong. They're all... wrong! I can't abide them!
      Spike: Let's try something different with the flowers then.

    • Oz: Uh, did anyone else just see that guy turn to dust?
      Willow: Well uh, sort of...
      Xander: Yeah, vampires are real, lot of them live in Sunnydale, Willow'll fill you in.
      Willow: Now, I know that it's hard to accept at first.
      Oz: Actually, it explains a lot.

    • Angel: It's a legend, way before my time. Of a demon brought forth to rid the Earth of the plague of humanity. To separate the righteous from the wicked, and to burn the righteous down. They called him The Judge.

    • Angel: Leave her alone.
      Spike: Yeah, that'll work. Now say "pretty please."
      Angel: Take me instead of her!
      Spike: Uh, you're not clear on the concept, pal. There is no 'instead'. Just first and second.

    • Buffy: Sorry. Sacred duty, yadda yadda yadda.

  • NOTES (6)


    • Xander: You ground his bones to make your bread.
      This is what the Giant planned to do to Jack in the classic fairytale Jack and the Beanstalk. The full line is "Fee, Fi, Fo, Fum, I smell the blood of an Englishman. Be he alive or be he dead, I'll grind his bones to make my bread."

    • Xander: What the vamps version of "snakes in a can?"

      Xander refers to the old gag where a fake can of peanut brittle contains spring "snakes" which pop out when it is opened.

    • Giles: Discretion is the better part of valor.
      From Shakespeare's King Henry IV, Part 1 Act V Scene 4 "The better part of valour is discretion." This, in turn, was based on a far earlier quote by Cicero: "Rashness is the characteristic of youth, prudence that of mellowed age, and discretion the better part of valor."