Mr Chase söker gottgörelse:
This was an extremely uneven episode, from tear-inducing to downright silly. And in the end nothing has been explained and nothing has really been accompliced. For a Joss piece this is pretty darn disappointing and shows how wrong you can go if try too hard to bring the audience a special holiday treat. It worked in "Halloween" but to bring more or less warm and fuzzy feelings to the Buffyverse at this juncture was doomed to fail.
This is the Whedon take on Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" but instead of the ghosts trying to save uncle Scrooge from damnation we here have ghosts trying to send Angel into damnation. But their reasons for doing so are never satisfactory explained. They can either settle for Angel reversing to his demonic persona by killing Buffy or for him killing himself. But why?
After this episode we still don't know what brought Angel back from hell, and Angel himself don't . This is plaguing him and he easily falls prey to the ghosts made manifest by the First, which is supposed to be the original Evil with a capital E. A truly unimaginative name if ever there was one (and I so got to think of the First Ones in Babylon 5). The resouled Angel can't for the un-life of him understand why he isn't experiencing eternal torture in hell, and by the way so can't Giles, considering everything that he has done as a vampire. The First tells him they brought him back so he could kill Buffy, but the might be lying (they're Evil, remember). Or was it some previously unknown Good that did it so he could make amends, as the title says?
I think it was positively horrendous to have one ghost manifest itself in the shape of Jenny Calendar. It brought back some painful memories and I realized just how much I miss the techno-pagan teacher. But that's the second fake Jenny we see and we really don't need it. Either bring her back period, or just forget about it!
The Angel we get to see here is actually proof of what especially Xander have been saying all along -- that he can't be trusted. Even with a soul he can be tempted to take the easy way out and succumb to the dark side. He still has to keep the demon in him in check and is obviously doing a poor job at it since he believes that the only way for him to avoid it is to go outside and await the sunrise.
Buffy tries in vain to convince Angel to stay alive and this was really of tear-inducing stuff. He means so much to her and doesn't want to lose him again. She tells him to keep fighting.
Buffy: "Strong is fighting. It's hard and it's painful and it's everyday. It's what we have to do, and we can do it together, but if you're too much of a coward for that, then burn. If I can't convince you that you belong in this world, then I don't know what can."
The thing that thoroughly bugged me about this episode is that right after this powerful interaction between Buffy and Angel on the hilltop, we get cheated. And not just us but Angel as well, for he doesn't get a chance to make up his own mind on whether Buffy's plea was convincing enough. No, we get the snowy ex machina intervention and Angel can catch the Christmas spirit by happily walking the streets with Buffy during the day. It makes no sense.
Okay, this might have been the first time that some more transcendent forces of good have intervened and there might be a reason for that, except we don't learn of it. God knows that evil has shown its ugly face quite often and it has only (with the possible exception of Whistler) been the very earthly slayers and watchers that has taken it upon themselves to fight it.
Still, the episode didn't resolve anything. Angel doesn't know why he lives and his decision was taken away from him. He still has to deal with the issues that brought him to the brink of suicide (if that's the correct term for someone unliving). It was just a little holiday flight from reality.
Buffy: "Angel, you have the power to do real good, to make amends. But if you die now, then all that you ever were was a monster."
It may be that Angel's true destiny lies in what he can do as the world's only (well, as far as we know) vampire with a soul. He sure didn't have a lot of good impact in his brief tenure as the human Liam, the "drunken, whoring layabout".
As predicted Oz quickly comes crawling back to Willow, willing to patch things up again. He certainly loses a lot of coolness points here, and this is Oz we're talking about. Has he no pride? I must say I'm disappointed, though not all that surprised. But for it to happen *that* quick after what happened in "Lovers Walk". Sheesh! He's a whipped pup even without Barry White's "Can't Get Enough of Your Love, Babe". But at least he was sensible enough not to fall directly for Willow's, ehum, invitation despite the sexy little red thing she wore.
Cordelia is a much tougher nut to crack. She still has my sympathies but I didn't like that she was reduced to walk-on bitching. Her comments about Xander's dysfunctional family, which she most certainly learned in confidence when they were together, was cruel. If she's going to keep revelling in her grudge against Xander it will be too painful to watch. From what we've learned about her, watching her slipping back in season one mode is not uplifting for anyone, least of all not her, no matter how much hurt she feels. If they don't look out the audience is going to lose all the hard-earned sympathy they've developed for her.
The snide about Xander's parents "drunken fighting" is revealing though. We've all expected that there are serious troubles in the Harris household. His mom and dad doesn't seem to care about their son, which explains how easily he could stay out all night as a Slayerette. In fact, from what we know or suspect about the Chase household, this was something of a common bond between Xander and Cordelia. Her rich parents don't seem to care much about their daughter too, instead showering her with expensive gifts and vacations instead of real love.
Another character I feel for here is Faith. Her little Christmas lights in her motel room were touching yet pathetic, as was her original decline to attend the Summers residence for Christmas with the lamest excuse of a non-existent party ever made up. She came to her senses though, but is that enough for her to open up. Don't bet on it.
Rupert Giles: "I'll be back in the Middle Ages."
Miss Calendar: "Did you ever leave?"