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Monday, January 16, 2012


[Updated April 29, 2013]

And so, at last, we reach the end of Innocence. In his DVD commentary, Joss describes Innocence as the “mission statement episode” of the show and says, with the benefit of 3 years hindsight, “This episode in a sense is and probably always will be the most important episode of Buffy that we did.” He has rated it his favorite episode of the whole series. It’s certainly a transcendent episode, one regularly appearing on fans’ Top 10 lists. Buffy’s life will never be the same again, and neither will the show.

All of S2 after WSWB has been building to this point. (In case you’re wondering, WSWB sets up different themes which we’ll see later on in S2.) I’ll start by summarizing how Innocence weaves together the various strands of those episodes.
Sex has been an important theme of most episodes: Daryl’s need for a mate in SAR; Spike and Dru’s sexual charge in School Hard; Ampata ready to suck the life out of Xander; the anvilicious metaphor of Reptile Boy; the sexual overtones of Halloween; Giles’ and Jenny’s budding relationship, including Eyghon’s sexual insults to Giles; Xander and Cordy’s relationship; and pretty much all of Bad Eggs.
There’s a reason why sex has been emphasized so often. I’ve been holding off discussing the metaphor of Spike and Dru until this point, so now I’ll make it clear: I suggested in my post on SAR that Chris, Daryl and their mother formed a trio representing ego, id, and superego, and that the whole theme of S2 was that an out-of-control id would lead to disaster. School Hard, the very next episode, introduced us to what I interpret as Buffy’s metaphorical id (Dru) and ego (Spike).
The id is the source of our desires and the ego is what the id uses to find ways to satisfy those desires. Buffy desires Angel. That’s the story which the early episodes have developed in metaphor, and it’s why there’s been so much emphasis on sex. Let’s see just how this played out.

Spike is nothing if not egotistical. He brags, he’s arrogant, he believes he’s in charge (like Captain, only to find that the real power was Tennille). In fact that dialogue from Ted pretty accurately describes the Freudian understanding of ego and id, in which the ego thinks it’s in charge but is actually just the method used by the id to obtain its desires:
“Willow:  Xander, he was obviously in charge.
Xander:  He was a puppet! She was using him!
Willow:  He didn't seem like the type of guy who would let himself be used.
Xander:  Well, that was her genius! He didn't even know he was playing second fiddle.”

Spike’s also obsessed with Buffy and her sexual side. Spike was the one to destroy the Anointed One because the ego believes that it has put childhood behind even when Buffy’s still in the transitional stage of being a teenager, a fact emphasized in School Hard itself when Xander went through Buffy's purse.
Dru serves as the metaphor for Buffy’s desire, her id. We see this in part by noticing her similarities to Buffy which are emphasized in Surprise: Buffy’s birthday is Dru’s “coming out” party, meaning Dru is reborn; Dru is wearing Buffy’s dress from Prophecy Girl in Buffy’s second dream, the same dress Buffy is wearing in that dream, the dress which represented Buffy’s virginal innocence in Prophecy Girl; they have prophetic dreams. Buffy’s dream to open Surprise is one such prophetic dream, though in metaphor: Dru is the one to kill Angel because, by allowing her id to take control, Buffy will destroy the human being she loves most.
Dru, we learned in Lie to Me, was created by Angelus, which makes perfect sense because it’s Angel who is the object of Buffy’s desires. It’s more than that, though – Dru will die if Angel does, just as Buffy’s desire would die without Angel: “Spike:  Oh! Right. Right, you almost got me! Aren't you a 'throw himself to the lions' sort of sap these days. Well, the lions are on to you, baby. See, if I kill you now you go quick, and Dru hasn't got a chance. And if Dru dies your little Rebecca of Sunnyhell Farm and all her mates are spared her coming-out party.”
At the beginning of the season Dru was weak and controlled, just as Buffy’s desire for Angel was. The basic purpose of the ego in Freudian theory is to find ways to satisfy the id’s desires. Freud expressed it very pithily: "Where the Id was, there shall the Ego be" (h/t executrix). Spike’s goal for the season, announced in School Hard, was to “restore Dru to health”, that is, metaphorically, to bring the id to full strength. That’s what he did in WML. During the “restoration spell” Angel’s essence – that which had created Dru in the first place – poured into her, bringing her to full strength.
The ego is also supposed to remain in at least partial control of the id. Because Spike was disabled in the fight, Buffy’s id was now unrestrained except by her superego (see below). Bad Eggs demonstrated this in metaphor, with Joyce (superego) harping on Buffy’s “irresponsibility” while hormones were on parade by Buffy/Angel and Xander/Cordy.  Buffy herself put her desire in plain English just after the teaser to Surprise when she told Willow she was going to sleep with Angel.
I promised to talk about Kendra, and I think she fits into the metaphor as well. Kendra I see as Buffy’s virginal conscience. Remember Kendra’s stammering shyness around Xander in WML:
“Buffy:  I'm guessing dating isn't big with your Watcher either.
Kendra:  I'm not permitted to speak with boys.”

And the fact that her parents gave her to her watcher when she was young, where she was then isolated, almost like being given to a convent:
“Kendra:  De tings you do and have, I was taught, distract from my calling. Friends, school... even family.
Buffy:  Even family?
Kendra:  My parents, dey sent me to my Watcher when I was very young.
Buffy:  How young?
Kendra:  I don't remember dem, actually. I've seen pictures. But, uh, dat's how seriously de calling is taken by my people. My modder and fadder gave me to my Watcher because dey believed dat dey were doing de right ting for me, and for de world.”

Kendra’s goal was to prevent the rise of “a very dark power”, i.e., Drusilla: “our priority is to stop Drusilla!” If Drusilla represents the id, then it makes sense that Kendra would be the one who wanted most of all to stop her.
Most important of all is her nagging warning about Angelus, whom Buffy was overlooking in favor of Angel:

“Kendra:  Angel? You mean Angelus? I've read about him. He is a monster.”

By giving into her desire, Buffy lost herself in Angel similar to the way Giles lost himself in Eyghon. She (unintentionally) unleashed a monster on the world, just as Daryl tried to do in SAR. Like Ted, Angel appeared to be human but was a conscience-less killer underneath, in each case revealed after Buffy killed the human. Buffy even signaled this similarity between Ted and vampires in her rant in the graveyard in Ted by running vampires together with Ted: “I mean, people are perfectly happy getting along, and then vampires come, and they run around and they kill people, and they take over your whole house, they start making these stupid little mini pizzas, and everyone's like, 'I like your mini pizzas,'….”
In essence, Buffy achieved without intending it the very result which she prevented Ampata from accomplishing deliberately: she sucked the life out of her beloved to satisfy her own desire. The Guardian we now understand was the superego which kept the id (Ampata) under control. Ampata became free only when she destroyed her guardian.
The way this played out in Innocence was that the Judge metaphorically disabled Buffy’s superego. In the real world, a judge separates the innocent from the guilty. In Freudian theory, the superego acts like a judge because it punishes misbehavior with feelings of guilt. In the twisted demon world, the Judge performs the opposite function: he is “a demon brought forth to... separate the righteous from the wicked... and to burn the righteous down.” The Judge operates by burning the souls – in the Buffyverse, the metaphorical conscience (Joss’s word) or superego (my gloss) – of human beings. When Buffy made contact with the Judge despite Angel’s shouted warning not to touch him, “it was like a sudden fever”. That disabled her superego just enough to allow her id to take control in the emotion of their escape. And one moment of happiness separated the righteous from the wicked.
With this all as background, let’s consider now the nature of Buffy’s relationship with Angel both in text and in metaphor. How should we evaluate her decision to have sex with Angel? The title of the episode gives us one possible answer: she was (and still is) innocent. Joss says of the title, “Buffy is still an innocent … she hasn’t lost anything of herself.” Giles, being the best dad ever, reinforces this at the end:
“Buffy:  You must be so disappointed in me.
Giles:  No. (she looks at him) No, no, I'm not.
Buffy:  But this is all my fault.
Giles:  No. I don't believe it is. Do you want me to wag my finger at you and tell you that you acted rashly? You did. A-and I can. I know that you loved him. And... he... has proven more than once that he loved you. You couldn't have known what would happen. The coming months a-are gonna, are gonna be hard... I, I suspect on all of us, but... if it's guilt you're looking for, Buffy, I'm, I'm not your man. All you will get from me is, is my support. And my respect.”

The other side of the argument can be found in my reading of the season to this point. Joss says that Angel was designed to be Buffy’s “star-crossed lover” (Shakespeare!) and is “exactly the wrong guy for her”. In my view, every episode has been warning Buffy of the consequences of giving in to her id and telling her, in metaphor, that sex with Angel was a very bad idea. We saw this in SAR, in Inca Mummy Girl, in Reptile Boy, in Ted, and in Bad Eggs. Lie to Me prefigured Buffy’s dilemma now. There she had to kill her former crush because he’d become a vampire, and that’s where she is now with Angel. “Give me time.”
This reading is reinforced by the parallel Xander/Cordy relationship. It’s wrong, every which way it’s wrong. Their first kiss was in the basement of Buffy’s house, the site of her metaphorical subconscious, home of her id; there had never been a scene in the basement before that, and they built the set for that episode. Every time Xander and Cordy talk about their relationship they say how wrong it is. Bad Eggs could hardly have made it any clearer that they were letting hormones get the better of them. Willow sums up X/C here in Innocence: “It’s against all laws of God and man.” Note that this perfectly describes a relationship between a Slayer and a vampire.
I obviously lean strongly to the view that Buffy made the wrong decision, romantic though her relationship with Angel may have seemed. In my read of the show, Buffy’s destiny is to grow up. The whole season has built off the theme briefly explored in Angel, namely that Buffy’s relationship is a diversion from her destiny. She’s not ready, as DreamJoyce suggests in Surprise, and the effect is that her destiny has become secondary:
Angel:  So you don't think about the future?
Buffy:  No.
Angel:  Never?
Buffy:  No.
Angel:  (swallows) You really don't care what happens a year from now? Five years from now?
Buffy:  Angel, when I look into the future, a-a... all I see is you! All I want is you. (Reptile Boy Bad Eggs h/t anonymous.)

Some people were emotionally attached to the Buffy/Angel relationship and disappointed at the turn of events in Innocence. The psychology of the plot, though, is very well thought out. Adam Smith laid it out 250 years ago in his book The Theory of Moral Sentiments, which I quoted in my analysis of Angel. Smith notes that we never empathize with lovers entirely because we never have the desire to form the same attachment they do. We form our own attachments, of course, but not with the same person as others do. Though their love will seem perfectly reasonable to them, it can never appear in the same light to us because we aren’t in love with the same person. Smith goes on:

“But though we feel no proper [empathy] with an attachment of this kind, though we never approach even in imagination towards conceiving a passion for that particular person, yet … we readily enter into those high hopes of happiness which are proposed from its gratification, as well as into that exquisite distress which is feared from its disappointment. It interests us not as a passion, but as a situation that gives occasion to other passions which interest us: to hope, to fear, and to distress of every kind. …
Hence it is that, in some modern tragedies and romances, this passion appears so wonderfully interesting. It is not so much the love … which attaches us …, as the distress which that love occasions. The author who should introduce two lovers in a scene of perfect security, expressing their mutual fondness for one another, would excite laughter, and not sympathy.  If a scene of this kind is ever admitted into a tragedy, it is always, in some measure, improper, and is endured not from any sympathy with the passion that is expressed in it, but from concern for the dangers and difficulties with which the audience foresee that its gratification is likely to be attended.” [Slightly edited for readability; my emphasis.]

In short, it’s the anticipation of a relationship, or concern about its ending, which is the proper subject of drama. A quiet, uneventful relationship is of no interest. Joss Whedon understands that: he says in the DVD commentary that he knew Buffy and Angel would get together, and that once they did people would become bored with them unless he did something else. Plus, of course, we should always remember the ending of I Robot, You Jane:
“Buffy: Let's face it: none of us are ever gonna have a happy, normal relationship.
Xander: We're doomed!
Willow: Yeah!
They all laugh. Their laughter quickly becomes nervous and stops. Only the fountain can be heard as they each consider their plight.”

Buffy’s emotions still have a strong hold on her at the end when she’s unable to dust Angelus. The consequences of her decision will obviously be an issue going forward, so I’ll talk about that as we go along from here.
There are lots of other interesting issues as well. Since I’ve mentioned Willow’s criticism of X/C, we should take a look at her reaction in more detail. I obviously think Willow correctly identified the relationship as wrong, and Joss agrees: “The idea that Cordelia would end up falling for Xander … that would be a perfect romance because they are so very wrong for each other.” That doesn’t mean Willow was right to call Xander out on it. Her unrequited love for Xander causes her to overlook the fact that it may be a wrong decision, but it’s his decision to make, not hers. He didn’t owe her anything, and she seems to have forgotten her own statement in Angel that “If you care about somebody you care about them.”
Attempting to use Oz as a form of revenge was thoughtless on her part, but you gotta love Oz’s reaction. As Joss says in the commentary, you can see Willow fall in love with him in that moment. And AH’s smile … well, it doesn’t get any better than that.
Buffy’s dream about Jenny at the graveyard showed Angel standing in the sun. I see this as meaning it was Angel’s human side, now separate from the vampire. It was Angel, therefore, who gave her the clue about Jenny.
What about Jenny? It’s not at all clear that she did any harm in concealing her role – she had no way to know that Angel’s curse could be lifted – but spying on people isn’t the best way to get them to trust you. Buffy’s reaction is probably too harsh, though I excuse her under the circumstances. Giles is more interesting. He’s willing to sacrifice Jenny and his own feelings in order to keep his Slayer focused in an extreme emergency. That was essential under the circumstances, and it’s a character trait Giles will demonstrate repeatedly.
There’s so much greatness in these two episodes that I can’t really list it all. “Wow.” Angelus exhaling the smoke, post-coital both literally and metaphorically (Vampire bite? Prostitute? I mean, really.). DB’s marvelous portrayal of Angelus. The devastating scene in Angel’s apartment. Willow getting it first: “No, I don't think you can.” “I knew it! Well, not 'knew it' in the sense of having the slightest idea….” “Wear something trashy ... er.” Oz and Willow in the van. Possibly my favorite comedic line in the whole series: “I’m seventeen years old. Looking at linoleum makes me think about having sex.” “That was then. This is now.”
One reason I rate S2 so highly is that, with all respect to Joss, I’m not at all sure that Innocence is even the best episode of the season.
Trivia notes: (1) The lyrics we hear as Surprise opens in Buffy’s dream are from the song “Anything”: "Take me over, I'm lying down / I'm giving in to you." (2) The monkey next to Willow in Buffy’s dream is speaking French. The words translate as “The hippo stole his pants.”, which references back to Willow’s conversation with Oz in WML in which he told her that all monkeys are French and that the hippo wanted the monkey’s pants. Buffy wasn’t present for this conversation, so it’s a signal to the audience that the dream really is prophetic. (3) The monkey is a visual pun: it’s a capuchin monkey and Willow is drinking a cappuccino. (4) Willow tells Buffy “carpe diem” which means “seize the day”. Buffy told Willow to “seize the moment” in WTTH. That worked out poorly then, just as it does here when Willow quotes it back to her. (5) Giles told the gang, “Discretion is the better part of valor”. That’s a cliché these days, but is from Henry IV Part 1, Act V, sc. iv. (6) Xander said that Buffy ground the Master’s bones to make her bread. “Grind his bones to make my bread” is from “Jack and the Beanstalk”. (7) The song which plays at Dru’s party is called “Transylvanian Concubine”. Well, yes. (8) Cordelia in Some Assembly Required: “Angel saved me from an arm.” Here he saves Buffy from one. (9) The heavy breathing in the scene of Angel and Buffy making love was dubbed later by Joss and the sound editor. (10) The movie Buffy and Joyce watch at the end is called Stowaway and starred Alice Faye and Robert Young. (11) Brian Thompson, who played the Judge, was Luke in WTTH and The Harvest. (12) Surprise was the third episode written by Marti Noxon on her own (she collaborated writing WML 1; h/t anonymous). Marti would go on to become the co-showrunner with Joss.


  1. I really don't have anything to add to that excellent analysis except to say "Innocence" is the first time I ever noticed what a great actor David Boreanez is. To switch from the brooding but essentially nice guy to the cold calculating villain like that is impressive. And to go from brooding vampire to uptight FBI family man isn't too shabby either.

    SPOILERS for Angel

    I like to think Angel survived "Not Fade Away", regained his humanity, and wanted to keep fighting the bad guys, so he switched to law enforcement. Hence "Bones."

  2. I had the same reaction to DB. Frankly, I didn't think too highly of his acting in S1 (which was, to be fair, his first job). He had improved in S2, but he was just terrific as Angelus.

  3. Very nice analysis. Well done.

    One of the things I find interesting about Buffy and Angel's relationship (and somewhat contrary to your reading) is - when he's Angel - how good they can be for each other. That might not seem obvious at first. If the early seasons of Buffy are meant, to a certain extent, to represent a metaphor of high school as "hell," then these two episodes, I guess, depict the way guys will often screw over young women after they "get what they want." So Buffy gives in to Angel and he disses her right away. Typical guy.

    The twist in Buffy is that they guy she goes to bed with is not the same guy who wakes up next to her.


    Once Angel comes back in S03, I think there's a lot of really insightful stuff about the way they negotiate their relationship in S03-05. Without going into too many details, it seems to me that Buffy's relationship with Angel in the first two seasons might, as you say, be a distraction from growing up. But her relationship with him in later seasons actually becomes part of her process of growing up.

  4. Thanks.

    I think it's easier to respond if I don't worry about spoilers, so


    The relationship in S1 is interesting. It isn't really a relationship so much as a crush. Buffy digs Angel; he's gorgeous if you have eyes. Angel, as we find out in Becoming, fell for her on first sight. But they never once socialize or date, and their interaction is mostly the delivery of messages by Angel. In fact, after the episode Angel, he makes no appearance until OOM,OOS and then briefly.

    So the actual relationship develops in S2, but it's gradual. She turns to him in WSWB; he saves Cordy from an arm in SAR; he gives cryptic advice about Spike in School Hard; he's barely there otherwise. Only in Reptile Boy does he become central again. The demonstration he gives there of his affection for Buffy is important enough for them to have a date in Halloween, and even though that misfires (unscheduled slayage), they end the episode kissing. That was their first kiss since Angel.

    So, while the crush is certainly there all the time, any relationship is much less visible on screen. It's more a given than something we actually see.

    When we actually see them together in The Dark Age through Bad Eggs, they do seem to be good with each other. For example, his advice to Buffy about her mother's needs in Ted was insightful even if wrong. And she actually needs someone like him, not because she needs a monster in her man, but because he, like she, is different.

    That's kind of a long way of saying that I agree they're good together -- and let's face it, they have to be or there'd be no story -- but I think that's more limited than we realize if we just think of it broadly.

    I agree that Buffy learning how to deal with Angel in a non-sexual way is a very important part of growing up in S3 and later.

  5. On thinking about it more, I decided my comment might not be as clear as I wanted. I'm not disagreeing with aaron about S1 and S2, but I am saying that I think the time frame is more compressed than those 2 seasons.

  6. Two nitpicks:

    - The dialogue about future is from Bad Eggs, not Reptile Boy.

    - Surprise was the 3rd episode where Marti Noxon was credited as a sole writer. The first two were What's My Line part 2 (she shared the writing credits with Howard Gordon only in part 1) and Bad Eggs.

    "One reason I rate S2 so highly is that, with all respect to Joss, I’m not at all sure that Innocence is even the best episode of the season."

    It's one of the best, but I'd probably pick Passion or Becoming II. My personal favorite I Only Have Eyes For You is also there. It's hard to judge which one was better than the other. Although one thing that annoys me in Innocence (carried over from Surprise) is the stereotypical portrayal of the Gypsies.

  7. Good catch on both points; I fixed them. And I agree about Passion or Becoming. IOHEFY is also great, though I personally put it just a shade below those (similar to Lie to Me on my own list).

  8. Mark, you're certainly right about the relationship being mainly a crush in S01, although it is a pretty well-developed burning crush (when Angel shows up) - the kiss at the end of "Angel" is almost enough to cover the whole season! But I guess one of the things S01 does so well is lay the groundwork for the relationship's development in S02. Now that the fireworks have kicked off and the "relationship" is (in a way) on the backburner, I'll be interested to see what you make of it come S03.

    As to S02's best eps, for me it would have to be "Passion" (followed closely by Becoming Pt 2). "Passion" just does so much right on so many levels, not least of which is taking the show as a whole to a place I wasn't prepared for it to go. For me, really, "Passion" is when Buffy becomes a great show. More, I guess, when we get there. Oh, and Anonymous, I also love "I Only Have Eyes . . ." Excellent, underrated episode.

  9. IOHEFY is one of my favorites, and I think it puts to rest any questions about whether DB can act. He and SMG sell that drama for all its worth.

    Given the ability he demonstrated later when acting, and the extreme dislike people had of his first season portrayal, I wonder if he was written that way. So when this happened, we could all pull a Xander and say "I never liked him anyway".

    I know some people who were squicked out by the age difference, much like they later would be with Bella/Edward. But I always looked at it this way, is that yes Angel has the life experiences of a couple hundred years, but he has truly only been living with a soul for a few years(even with how the show Angel fleshed out what he was doing between being cursed and eating rats, I still feel it was careful to establish that Angel wasn't really living during all of that, he had to be coerced into action, he didn't develop real connections with people...) So it makes sense to me, that the first time he fell in love while having a soul, it would be expressed in a clumsy fashion, much like an actual teenager's would.


    I think part of the "squick" reaction came from the scene in Becoming where Angel first saw Buffy. Very Lolita.

  11. Sure, I just had an easier time overlooking it, because in relative terms Angel was a teenager too.

  12. Ah, I still saw Angel as older, early 20s perhaps. But Joss messed up the chronology so much that either view is reasonable.

  13. Well, I was a 16 year old with a 20 year old boyfriend, so maybe I'm skewed.

  14. Nah, I personally don't have a problem with it (and I have 2 daughters). But Buffy was possibly as young as 15 when Angel first saw her and he could have been as "old" as 22. That's a big maturity gap at that age, so I can understand the issue. But in the right case I certainly wouldn't condemn anyone for it.

  15. I wonder about a reference to the gospels when Angel describes the Judge: "To separate the wicked from the righteous, and to burn the righteous down." It seems like Whedon is describing the judge as a kind of antichrist, who, instead of separating the wicked from the righteous and burning the wicked, thus bringing about the kingdom of heaven among/within us, brings about hell among/within us. Among Christ's main teachings is, Don't judge, so you won't be judged. I wonder if Buffy is at risk of judging herself so harshly that she burns the humanity out of herself. When Buffy asks Giles, "You must be so disappointed in me", she expects that he is because she is disappointed in herself. There's a tremendous mindless cruelty that we are capable of inflicting on ourselves when we feel like we have acted wrongly, and especially when we are also emotionally hurt or embarrassed by our actions. This internal judge looks at the innocent part ourselves and concludes that because it made a mistake, it must be "wrong". If this is the case, Buffy is in danger of losing her innocence not through sex, but through this judge that masquerades as conscience. If Buffy denies her own humanity/innocence, she denies it for everyone else, too. This is the Judge's power to kill at a distance. I sometimes walk done the street and have the most horribly judgmental thoughts about others. It transfigures them instantly from human beings to worthless objects that I don't have to worry about or fear. I wonder if Buffy isn't at risk of this as well.

    SPOILERS through S7
    This sets up further plot points in IOHEFY, where Buffy needs to learn to forgive herself, even though her internal judge has decided that she doesn't deserve it. Further on down, we have the knights of byzantium, who represent a religious order that has no relationship with the teachings of Jesus, which condemns Dawn, Buffy's innocence/humanity. Also, judging yourself and judging others go hand in hand. I wonder if Whedon didn't have The Fall in the back of his mind, as he takes this aspect of Buffy's arc further. For example, in Conversations With Dead People when she admits that she feels superior to her friends, and when she is rebuked for this by Anya in "Empty Places", her superiority/inferiority complex reminds me of Clamence explaining why did good things for old ladies crossing the stree even though he secretly hated them, although in his case, he has an inferiority complex with a superiority complex about it, which is why he is unable or unwilling to have Buffy's epiphany and act on it. In any case, I think it's interesting to see a seed planted here that will grow tremendously as the show goes on.

    1. I definitely get a Biblical vibe to the Judge. I like the suggestion that he's a twisted version of conscience, whose touch causes guilt so severe that the person burns up from the inside. Or, in Buffy's case, since the touch was so brief, suffers intensely. The only thing holding me back is the causal arrow: Buffy touched the Judge BEFORE she had sex with Angel (her later source of guilt). I'd have to work out the mechanics of that.

    2. "The only thing holding me back is the causal arrow: Buffy touched the Judge BEFORE she had sex with Angel (her later source of guilt). I'd have to work out the mechanics of that."
      Buffy had basically already decided to have sex with Angel. Her conversation with Willow makes that clear, with the inevitable seizing and all that. But it is also clear that she feels guilty about it too. "To act on want can be wrong." Yes, it can, and in this case it was clearly a bad idea. So Buffy is being tortured by the Judge because she knows that what she wants to do is probably a mistake, but she's decided to do it anyway. Of course, she goes to far with the flogging and punishing, and has to learn how to forgive herself (IOHEFY and Becoming). The Judge being twisted conscience also fits with one interpretation of the soul in BtVS, that of it being a conscience. A conscience is usually thought of as a good thing, but guilt in the way that Buffy experiences it is not healthy. One could argue that that's true of Angel too. His guilty brooding doesn't really do anyone any good, and gives him an excuse not to participate in the world. He feels so good as Angelus now because the humanity, and the guilt that results from having human feelings, that which the Judge would use to burn him, is gone. It also fits nicely with the episode's title. Buffy has lost her innocence in the silly cultural sense of "she's no longer a virgin," and she thinks that she has lost her innocence in the sense of she thinks she is some kind of horrible person. Her mind sets her straight, telling her that she made a mistake, but that she hasn't lost herself.

    3. Ok, that definitely works. Thanks.

  16. Hey there, Tanya May here having a Christmas rewatch. I’ve been commenting, but my comments don’t show up!

    I’m loving the experience of watching again, and reading your thoughts. And particularly enjoy this post! My brain isn’t quite up to speed on it all yet, but I’m trying!

    I’m wondering on your take on the symbolism of smoking in the show. There’s so many anti-smoking campaign posters (very obvious “smoking kills” in the boiler room in “Nightmares”), which may just stick out to me as we didn’t have that in the UK when I was growing up. But then the second angel loses his soul he smokes (which is amazing imagery, but is there anything more to it?), and as soon as spike and dru find out, he smokes. It seems like the show has a message that ‘only bad people smoke’? But is there more to it?

    I’m also wondering if there’s anything deeper to be said of the use of water? It seems like just too many instances to mean nothing? Buffy and angel fight at the docks, fall/dive into water, and get soaked. Then they get caught in the rain, get soaked, and have sex. Then they get soaked by the sprinklers in the mall, and fight. I guess it works as interesting bookends, but is there anything more to it?

    On a side note, the scene in innocence where angel says “love you too” affected me so deeply that 20 years later it’s still all I can think of if someone says that exact phrase to me. Loved ones be in trouble if they miss out the “I”!!

    1. Hm. I don't know why there's an issue with comments showing up. This one did. If you have any more problems, let me know at Thanks.

      The smoking thing was standard TV policy back then: only bad people were shown smoking. All vampires could smoke, but nobody else unless they're about to die.

      I don't think there's more to the water in these episodes than just water. I mean, in PG it's clearly a baptism of sorts, and in future episodes there'll be other uses. Overall, I think it's an episode-by-episode interpretation.

      Hope you're loving the re-watch. That's kind of perfect for the holidays (there being not much else on TV).