Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Innocence

Angel: "She made me feel like a human being. That's not the kind of thing you just forgive."

Anyone who's ever been stalked by an ex or has slept with someone and had them change on them can identify with this episode, supernatural elements or not. We were all so accustomed to Angel being a warm and cuddly crime-fighting vampire, always so sweet and protective and romantic; having him change the way he did, so completely, was such a shock. When he first turned, having him bite that woman and then blow out her cigarette smoke was wild. "The pain is gone. I feel just fine." And having the Judge confirm it later was excellent writing; we know for sure that he's turned completely, and there's no going back.

David Boreanaz is much more impressive as Angelus than as Angel. I noticed mostly how he goes for a much lighter, more whimsical tone; good Angel is usually grim and haunted, but Angelus is playful, enthusiastic, and smiles all the time. Okay, smirks. Whatever -- it works. What really makes this change give me the shudders is that even though he has changed completely, he's still obsessed with Buffy. That incredible and vicious scene in Angel's room where he deliberately lets her think that her inexperience disappointed him is just exceptional.

The resolution of the Judge subplot using Xander's "military experience" was very well done. The mall scenes at the end were great ("what's that do?"), and it was satisfying and appropriate to have Buffy hit Angel where it would hurt the most.

"Surprise" and "Innocence" together are outstanding, and mark a major turning point in the series. When I saw this episode for the first time, I was stunned by the enormity of the plot twist, and the chances that the writers were taking. I have since heard many other fans say that these two episodes were what hooked them on the show.

Bits and pieces:

-- Angelus, Drusilla and Spike make a fascinating and unique love triangle; there is already a lot of tension here between Angelus and Spike.

-- Giles shows his extreme loyalty to Buffy by almost immediately rejecting Jenny. He also shows remarkable sensitivity toward Buffy in the car.

-- "The we-hate-Cordelia club of which you are the treasurer." Willow gets her heart broken, too, seeing Xander kiss Cordelia. At least she is finally getting somewhere with Oz. "Willow kissage."

-- Loved Angel kissing Spike on the forehead.

-- Angel's sheets are red, which seems to be every vamp's favorite color.

-- Obligatory dog reference: Spike to Angel: "It made me sick to my stomach seeing you as the Slayer's lap dog."

-- Note from later: I can't remember where, but Joss Whedon says at some point that "you gotta have a rocket launcher". Every time I see a rocket launcher in a movie or TV show now, I think about that and about Buffy with the rocket launcher in this episode.

Quotes:

Drusilla: "I'm naming all the stars."
Spike: "You can't see the stars, love. That's the ceiling. Also, it's day."

Xander: "Sorry I snapped at you before."
Cordelia: "Well, I'm reeling from that new experience."

Xander: "Whoa. Whoa! I... I think I'm having a thought. Yeah, yeah, yeah, that's a thought. Now I'm having a plan. (The lights go out.) Now I'm having a wiggins."

Cordelia: "So, does looking at guns really make girls wanna have sex? That's scary."
Xander: "Yeah, I guess."
Cordelia: "Well, does looking at guns make you wanna have sex?"
Xander: "I'm seventeen. Looking at linoleum makes me wanna have sex."

Oz: "So, do you guys steal weapons from the Army a lot?"
Willow: "Well, we don't have cable, so we have to make our own fun."

Oz: "Sometimes when I'm sitting in class... You know, I'm not thinking about class, 'cause that would never happen. I think about kissing you. And it's like everything stops. It's like, it's like freeze frame. Willow kissage."

Five out of four stakes. One of the best episodes in the series, as far as I'm concerned,

Billie
---
Billie Doux reviewed all of Buffy and Angel, so she knows the plural of apocalypse.

28 comments:

Gus Brunetti said...

David Boreanaz really shines as Angelus. He can be funny and scary at the same time, being so cruel. I remember this episode was when I really thought his acting skills were more remarkable than his looks. Because, let's face it, Angel is a great character, but until this point he was just eye candy with an impressive backstory.

Mark Greig said...

You always know you're in for something special when Joss is both writing and directing and 'Innocence' does not disappoint. Were it not for 'Passion' this would be my favourite episode of season two.

Boreanaz really knocks it out of the park as Angelus. Of all the Big Bads I think he's the best simply because all he wanted to do was make Buffy suffer.

Sooze said...

I have (finally!) started watching Buffy after reading this site for years (since Alias). These last 2 episodes (Surprise and Innocence) along with "Passion" are what finally got me hooked. I watched Season 1 here and there when I had the time...but now I find myself wasting (? depends on your perspective) a day away watching episode after episode. Knowing (very generally speaking) what is to come with Buffy and Spike - I had no idea how the character (Spike) started on the show. Now that I am seeing it, I can't wait to find out how it all develops. And (unfortunately because I already have too much on my plate) I definitely have to add an Angel watch after I am done with this!
Although now that I have seen SMG in Buffy, I am not so interested in Ringer anymore - honestly it is not doing her justice.

Billie Doux said...

Welcome to Buffy, Sooze!

ChrisB said...

For someone as vehemently feminist as Joss Whedon, I was shocked the first time I saw this episode and its message -- if you have sex as a young woman, your boyfriend is going to turn into (literally, in this case) a monster. Yes, it happens, but not always. That aspect of this episode has always really, really bothered me.

But, when I get over myself and take off my own feminist cap, I love it. David Boreanaz is phenomenal as Angelus and the scene with Buffy in house is so cold (vicious is a good word, Billie), it makes me shiver.

There are so many good moments aside from this main story as well. Willow's face when Oz tells her that he won't kiss her until she is ready to kiss him? Well done Alyson Hannigan -- you can see Willow fall in love with the guy. And, I love Xander's constant readiness to jump into danger for those he loves. What a good guy!

But, the part that always gets me is the end. Giles being so lovely and sweet to Buffy in the car followed up by the wonderful scene with Joyce. That final moment, when Buffy tells her mother that she "grew up," but then puts her head on her mother's chest makes me cry every time I watch it. I'm welling up typing this...

Agree that it's not the best of the second season, but it is certainly in the top ten of all time.

shruti said...

This is the episode after which I started the Buffy marathon during my first watch. Until now it was max one episode a day... Its just so... heartbreaking.

Couple of quotes:

SPIKE: What's Big Blue up to anyway? He just sits there.
JUDGE:I am preparing.
SPIKE:Yeah. It's interesting to me that 'preparing' looks a great bit like sitting on your ass. When do we destroy the world already?

WILLOW:My God, you people are all... Well, I'm upset, and I can't think of a mean word right now, but that's what you are, and we're going to the factory!

How cute are Oz and Willow!!!

Billie Doux said...

BUFFY RE-WATCH comments begin here! Remember, no spoilers for future episodes. Want to talk spoilers and foreshadowing? Post them here.

If you have a moment, please click the Twitter/Facebook buttons at the bottom of the review!

a.m. said...

Yeah! The Scoobies have a van:)

I know, a lot more momentous things happened in this episode, but I got so excited when Willow said, "Oz has a van."

I knew that Buffy wasn't actually going to slay Angel (although I don't know if I would have been so confident if I was watching this back when it originally aired) but I'm glad she kicked his ass anyway! I haven't pitied Buffy before, but that conversation in Angel's apartment was beyond dreadful. I'm glad Jenny told her that what caused him to lose his soul was having one moment of pure happiness. I hope she gets some solace from that...eventually, after the pain goes away.

I hated that uncle whatshisname died, though. He was so frightening! I was looking forward to him showing up again...

I loved all the Angel/Dru/Spike scenes but the scene with Spike listening in from behind the pillar was really interesting...I don't know why it stood out to me, but there seemed to be some foreshadowing in it. Plus, I bet he was really wishing that Buffy would kill Angel. Dru's freak out when the Judge exploded was awesome! I love how damaged she is, but it does make me a little nervous that Angel's goal is to again kill all of the loved ones/friends of the girl he's obsessed with...I almost screamed at the TV when Willow was walking towards him.

Well Joss's hooks are definitely in and I'm struggling to maintain my tenuous hold on the brakes...but I love the interaction of the rewatch, so I'm holding...for now:)

ChrisB said...

I wrote this as I was watching the episode and I repeat some of what I said before, so apologies in advance. I guess the things I say twice I really mean!

The title of this episode is perfect. Each of the Scoobies loses some degree of innocence and each of them grows up a bit. I’ve never much liked the lesson that Joss was teaching in this episode, but I understand that it works for the story. Over time, I have moved beyond my irritation.

Obviously, this episode is about Buffy losing her virginity, but it is also her emotional innocence that is taken from her. The scene with Buffy and Angel in his apartment always upsets me. To have the man with whom she has finally had sex turn, and turn so harshly, is a hard lesson to learn. Their fight in the mall is epic and I love the moment when she kicks him.

Willow grows up a bit as well. By catching Xander and Cordelia, Willow now must finally face the fact that Xander does not love her and, most likely, never will. She must accept that the boy on whom she has had a crush for years is not going to feel the same way and she must move on to someone who will love her.

Luckily, a great guy is just waiting for her to discover that he is there. I love the scene in the van. Willow, feeling rejected and sad, wants Oz to kiss her, but he sees through her. In one of the most wonderful moments in all of this show, we watch as Willow realizes how great this guy is and basically falls in love with him in front of our eyes.

The fact is that Xander does love Willow, very much, just not romantically. He doesn’t hesitate to step up and save her from Angel and he knows that taking Cordelia to the depot will upset his friend. We see him grow up a bit as well. He does what has to be done and handles it in a very emotionally adult way.

Even Giles, who is mature to the point of stuffiness, loses some of his illusions. I understand that it is never easy for a father to accept the fact that his daughter has become sexually active. Giles not only has to accept that his slayer is growing up, he must do so at the same time that he realizes how badly Jenny has betrayed them all. It is to his credit that he never wavers from his support of Buffy and he never “wags his finger” at her.

I love the two scenes at the end with Buffy and her “parents” and they always make me cry. Giles is simply wonderful with her. And Joyce, who on some level knows that something is very wrong, lets it go and just simply hugs her daughter. It doesn’t get much better than that.

Some other random thoughts. I agree completely that Boreanaz comes into his own as Angelus. While I love Angel and think he adds a lot to the show. Angelus is much more fun to watch and, I would guess, probably more fun to act. Finally, Buffy with a rocket launcher. Fantastic!!!

Suzanne said...

When I finished watching this episode this time, I really thought it might be the best one of the series. There are so many great ones, but this one really has it all. The bad guys are awesome, and they are also so three dimensional (except the Judge). It is fascinating to see the conflict that is beginning to arise between Angel and Spike over Dru. You even get the sense it goes back further between them.

The moment when Angel breaks Buffy's heart is well written and gut wrenching. I didn't take it as a warning to all girls that this will happen when you lose your virginity, but as an example of how it sometimes happens. Anyone who has had a partner act like Angel does after intimacy, even if it isn't after the first time, knows how awful a moment like that can be. Joss captured it perfectly.

Of course, Buffy's reaction is the best. At first, she acts as we would expect, but my favorite part is when Giles says, "He is trying to make it hard for you." And Buffy replies, "He is only making it easier." I loved how strong she was here and then later with her bazooka and her incredible kick to the groin.

It is so great that in an episode with such a strong Buffy/ Angel story, Joss still included such great stories for Willow, Xander, and Giles. Willow's heartbreak was almost as powerful as Buffy's, but then she ended up with the sweetest, most wonderful guy ever. Can you tell how much I adore Oz for Willow? Their scene in the van is the best.

Xander's suspicion of Angel finally pays off when he turns around in the hall and comes back. He shows a lot of courage in this episode and even his scenes with Cordy seem to have become more serious, less played for laughs.

Giles turning on Jenny and talking to Buffy in the car were such great moments. I love the kind of father figure he has become for her. The ending scene with Joyce was also very touching.

This episode is amazing in every way. It hits all the right notes!

sunbunny said...

In which we meet Angelus and his leather pants. Angel, now afflicted with sexually transmitted soullessness, has reverted to Angelus. And omg, I forgot how much I love him.

Honestly, I hadn't seen this episode in so long, I forgot how perfect it is. It seems so much longer than a typical episode. It's amazing how much there was time for; every character gets at least a moment to shine. Xander senses Angel's change first (logical, as he never liked Angel) and gets to be the badass and save Willow. Willow figures out Buffy's secret first and actually tells Giles to shut up. Giles was the perfect sorta daddy to his little girl. And Buffy with the rocket launcher?! I think that's one of everyone's favorite BtVS moments, yes?

celticmarc said...

OMG.

Another one written and directed by Joss, huh. SMG shines again, and even MORE than the previous ep. Wow.

(imdb : OK, she won a few awards for her portrayal in this show; she deserves them, good)

Well, the main theme of the day is "broken hearts".

I'll continue later on; I haven't read your review yet, nor the comments. 2/3 and 3/3 of the fun.

celticmarc said...

I totally agree with you Billie. The changed Angel is terrifying. (Gee whiz, kudos now for Mister Boreanaz !)

Also, as you said, these 2 episodes were the turning point for a lot of people. If my love for these characters is already here today, as you already know, well, now, it is going to a new level.

Every time a crazy wit comes from Xander's mouth, I just want to hug Nicholas Brendon ! So far, most of the best lines comes from his character. Buffian bliss.

I was also very taken by...Willow's being upset at Xander. OH ! oh ! Giles' clock on the wall: the seconds hand is NOT moving. Love these details.

"Ya baby; I'm back !" "Giles ! shut up !" "...wear something trashy...er." "I got older..." (this one is simple AND brilliant) (and I can relate personally and it's not my birthday...)

And the hooker (with a good heart?) and the gypsy uncle are other proofs that smoking is bad.....

You gave it a 5; I rest my case too. Brilliant.

celticmarc said...

ChrisB, excellent comment.

On the theme on the rocket launcher, a different kind of classic :

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N7vCww3j2-w

celticmarc said...

"sexually transmitted soullessness"

Joss should spend some time on this site....

Jane said...

This was an even better follow-up to Surprise than I had hoped for.

Angel's transformation made me wince for Buffy, but it really does things for the story possibilities. Plus - leather pants!

I think the thing that is really starting to please me to watch is this great way Buffy and Willow seem to be on two very different journeys but they are really following the same path. Buffy has this larger-than-life life with mortal danger and stunning heartbreak. Willow is experiencing the same hopes and hurts as Buffy and it give me this kind of reciprocal appreciation for each of them. It makes super strong Buffy more relatable and everyday girl Willow more epic. Very cool.

a.m. said...

STS really is a tragic disease. Unfortunately it's more damaging to those who haven't contracted it...

drnanamom said...

Great episode, great comments. I felt awful for Buffy and think that Joss has perfectly captured the abusive boyfriend who wants to destroy what he "loves" from the inside out. I love that Buffy doesn't crumble even though she is in pain.

Josie Kafka said...

Wow. I'd completely forgotten how sad I get watching this episode. I got all weepy three different times.

ChrisB, as I rewatched this I noticed that Joss contrasts Angel's behavior with really exemplary behavior from the other men: Xander is honest with Cordelia about sex (even though he's been running a long, sad con on Willow--but that's complicated), Oz is the most stand-up awesome guy in the world, and Giles says the perfect thing.

In other words, I think Joss is aware that he might be taking the "monsters-as-metaphor" thing a bit too far, and he counters the evil-boyfriend bit with lots of great examples of men acting with honor and bravery. Even Xander taking the cross from Jenny, preparing to fight Angelus, was noble. (And showed how ambivalent Jenny is about "the kids," as she calls them.)

In other observations: I love Drusilla swimming in the air as she jumps away from the Judge.

rebecca_s921 said...

This episode is so amazing, it made me forget the minor quibble that it seemed way too easy for Xander to steal a rocket launcher from an army base. Beside, the visual of Buffy firing said rocket launcher at the Judge was simply too cool and entirely appropriate for the story to make me mind it too much.

"It's not justice we serve, it is vengeance."

By ripping Angel's soul away when he experiences happiness, it'd create carnage as Angelus will immediately go after those he love the most. I think the gypsy probably planned to curse him again after he's wreaked additional havoc to add to his suffering and guilt. If that's the case, it made the gypsies very cold blooded, with no regard to others' lives. Unfortunately the ensouling ritual is lost.

"Lay low for a night. I guarantee you by the time you go public she won't be anything resembling a threat."

I'm glad no scoobies were seriously injured or harmed during the making of this episode. But when Angelus said that, I immediately thought how wrong he was, as I thought Buffy is way stronger than that. The murder of uncle Enyos only built her resolve. I also started thinking about all the big bads in the series that'd underestimated our plucky heroine. It's part of the reason I love this character and the series so much.

"Come on, Buffy. It's not like I've never been there before."

The first time I watched this exchange, it's meaning flew over my head. Chalk it up to a sheltered upbringing. It's on repeat viewing that I realized its malice. That kick to the groin is so very well deserved.

"I might die from you. Does that get me any points?"

I really didn't like Xander here. I enjoy the comedy of him and Cordelia together, but when Willow caught them kissing, he immediately protested that he was "just kissing, it doesn't mean that much." Willow is so right that he has "gross emotional problems." Then he saved Willow from Angelus and made me like him again.

Miss Courtney said...

The fam is out of town and I was so distracted by re-watch I forgot to feed the cat. Having major guilt now.

I clapped when Angelus fed off the smoker and exhaled. Brilliant! The dark tone is tempered with humor in the perfect proportion. The men steal the show with great dialogue from Angel, Oz and especially Giles. Although my favorite is "In my fantasy YOU are kissing Me." It only gets better from here. Standing ovation.

pucklady said...

Newbie report:

There was a lot to like in this episode.

Awesome Xander was awesome. But I think he needs more self-confidence. "I think I'm having an idea. I know I'm having an idea. I think I'm having a plan." He reminds me of the Cowardly Lion. The Wizard said something like "men no braver than you do heroic things. The only thing they have that you don't is a medal." Xander needs to find a Wizard of Oz. Wait! We have one! What would our Wizard give Xander for self-confidence?

I liked that when Angelus bit the streetwalker, he didn't come up with his mouth dripping blood, but blew out a breath of smoke. Yay, a vampire with table manners! And the smoke was much more effective anyway.

In the theater, when The Judge link-zapped everyone there, as soon as he got hit with the arrow, everyone was fine? That confused me. I would think they'd at least drop to the floor.

I loved it when Buffy raised up the rocket launcher and Angel and Dru beat feet to get out of the way. And yay for David for doing his own stunts.

Vamps don't seem to feel pain, but they don't have dead nuts? Weird.

And, since you asked so nicely ...

The Judge was the Biggest Bad yet
As big as a Bad oughta get
It took a bazooka
To waste that palooka
And Buffy not breaking a sweat

ChrisB said...

Josie -- that is an excellent point about the other guys in the episode. They all really do shine.

pucklady -- that is your best yet! LOL

sunbunny said...

pucklady - I hope this doesn't count as a spoiler, but Xander devaluing himself/being devalued by others is a recurring theme in the series. It's addressed directly several times. Don't want to say more due to the risk of spoilage...

Oh and DB does a lot of his own stunts. :)

Annie said...

I agree with everyone that this is an excellent episode and overall one of the best.
DB is excellent as Angelus and so much more interesting than Angel (although I have to say that I think DB is excellent as Angel too, only Angel is not as interesting to watch)

There are so many stand out scenes in the episode as demonstrated by all the comments. My favourite is the end scene with Buffy and Joyce, it really shows the impact the events have had on Buffy, her coming of age as a women went from magical to ,literally, soul destroying, she's so forlorn, all Joyce can do is be there. Its very touching.

celticmarc said...

Oh my, picture this :

Buffy as Dorothy
Xander as the tin man
Oz as a little (they all are) flying monkey with a red outfit (first bonus)
Willow as the scarecrow
Giles as the Wizard
Jenny as the W W of the W (ouch, sorry, but you hair fits the character)
Cordelia as a porcelain doll (second bonus)

celticmarc said...

And I completely forgot the darn lion !

Dru ? Spike ? Angel ? I'm out of inspiration, sorry.

Lamounier said...

pucklady, vampires do feel pain, they just have more tolerance for it.

Biologically speaking, though, nothing about the dead/alive thing makes sense. Joss addressed the issue once, answering a question about how vampires shouldn’t be able to have sex. And I recall the show making a joke on vampire's lack of blood circulation (hope that doesn’t count as spoiler).