Willow: So he is a good vampire. I mean, on a scale of one to ten.
Since Alisa has declared her own bias, I'll declare mine.
The first time I watched Buffy season one I hated the Buffy/Angel bits, for two reasons.
1) Any time a show has two leads who are *obviously* going to get together, I don't want them to.
2) Angel is a bit of a romantic lead cliche. "Oh, I'm so dark and mysterious, dangerous with a past, older than you, and I have a terrible secret, and did I mention I work out? And oh man, now my shirt's chafing me, mind if I take it off?"
Yawn. Excuse me while I fetch my barf bag. Why not just rope Tori Spelling in as a romantic interest for Xander and we can flush the whole series down the toilet?
Of course, having seen the rest of the series, I now know that Whedon has more interesting things in mind for Buffy and Angel, and this episode is a lot more interesting when you know some of the things that are being set up here.
This isn't a bad episode. The romantic storyline is set up early and pretty quickly undercut by the revelation of Angel's vampireliness. Gellar gets some good chances to play hurt and she does it well. After Buffy's recent troubles with boys, this one comes as a kick in the teeth, and Buffy's mixed feelings are complex and believable. "What it a joke? To make me feel for you?"
We get some nice interplay from the scoobies, with Xander demonstrating confusion and jealousy and Willow slipping into confidante mode. There are, as Alisa has already listed, some snappy one-liners between the four leads.
This is also the first sense we get of the danger that Buffy's mum is placed in through her lifestyle.
We actually get some nice stuff with the Master, for the first time, really. His place as villain of the season is starting to emerge. Darla is a great character here, serving as the embodiment of Angel's dark past. She's also probably the most threatening vampire we've encountered so far, and helps to give a sense that Buffy's job is going to be tougher than thrust and move on.
I got a bit annoyed with the coincidences; Buffy walking in on Angel holding Joyce, the misunderstanding when Joyce talks about Buffy's "friends". It all got a bit English farce for me at one point.
Despite my Buffy/Angel reservations, the scene where Buffy and Angel confront one another is quite poignant, with their acceptance of life's complexities, chiefly because Sarah Michelle Gellar acts it so strongly.
And the ending is quite nice. So all up, a better episode than I remembered it. Not one of my favourites, but a good arc-building ep with some nice moments.
I give it three tortured souls.