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Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Amends

Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Amends

By Frances Taylor • December 13th, 2012
Static Mass Rating: 5/5
WB / UPN / 20th Century Fox Home Ent.

Original air date: December 15th, 1998
Episode running time: 43 minutes

Creator: Joss Whedon

Cast: Sarah Michelle Gellar, Nicholas Brendon, Alyson Hannigan, Charisma Carpenter, Anthony Head, David Boreanaz, Seth Green, Eliza Dushku, Kristine Sutherland

Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 3

First things first, I’m not hugely into the Holiday Season. The music is jingly, the inflatable reindeer gaudy, the expectation crushing. Call me a Humbug, and roll me onto January 1st, but if there’s a Christmas TV show for me anywhere, it’s gotta be in Sunnydale… Replace Santa Claus with an ancient evil from an alternate dimension, give me a library with old books over shopping any day, and not least, I want to be rescued from my holiday blues, preferably by someone handsome.

Season 3 Episode 10, titled Amends begins with a flashback to 19th Century Dublin. Angel (David Boreanaz) is running rampage as a vampire, killing for cruelty and kicks. He awakens in the present, tormented by his actions. On a late-night stroll around town, he’s literally haunted by the ghosts of the people he’s killed like a brooding, immortal Scrooge. Meanwhile, Buffy (Sarah Michelle Gellar) just wants a quiet vacation, but her mother Joyce (Kristine Sutherland) insists that they invite Faith (Eliza Dushku) over for dinner. Willow (Alyson Hannigan) wants to get back together with Oz (Seth Green) after being caught kissing Xander (Nicholas Brendon), and Giles (Anthony Head) is still grieving over the murder of his girlfriend.

Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 3

When Buffy and Angel begin to appear in each other’s dreams, and they get a little gruesome and she realises that something bigger is going on, and everyone must face up to a new ‘big bad’, including the demons. In Sunnydale, Whedon gives us a highly personal Christmas, or Hannukah in Willow’s case. The holidays are a time for heightened emotions, where sadness is palpable, loneliness seems absolute and something beautiful can be overwhelmed by poignancy as regular activities take on added significance. Christmas is also the perfect foil to go out on a limb, especially emotionally. It’s affords the opportunity for Willow to get dressed up (or down…) and proposition Oz, for Angel to really face his past and his future and for Buffy to blow off reality until the new term begins and throw her heart and soul into something she still truly believes in.

Signature to many of the episodes both written and directed by Whedon, Amends is heavy in the show’s mythology, bridging story arcs, filling in the gaps, and answering some of the bigger questions. Yet it also stands up as a Christmas episode. The themes of the episode are undoubtedly festive, and traditionally so, with honesty, forgiveness, redemption, and helping others at the heart of the group effort. The episode is entitled Amends, and Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 3this is what the characters can do; reach out to others in an attempt to make things better, to make things right. Whether they’re worshipping Jesus, Santa, or the shopping mall, Christmas is the day that puts the characters’ lives into sharp relief and shows them, and us, what’s important.

The climax shows Angel on a hill overlooking the town, waiting for sunrise. In ending his own life, he feels he’s doing everyone a favour, saving Buffy’s life, and thwarting the First Evil. Despite her convictions in previous episodes, Buffy delivers a powerful, emotional speech, “You’re weak, everybody is. Everybody fails… Angel, you have the power to do real good, to make amends,” convincing him he still has a reason to live, that even if he doesn’t want to be in Sunnydale anymore, that she wants him to be, and that has to count for something.

It may be schlocky, but the freak snowstorm that follows, blocking out the sun so Angel can walk in daylight hours, gives rise to a tender walk home in the grey morning. This distils the Christmas spirit for me. It strips back the lights, the jingles, the tacky forgettable gifts, and presents two lovers walking hand in hand. They may not have defeated the First Evil, or figured out how they’ll make the relationship work, and merely got things back to the old equilibrium, but that grim reality can wait because they have each other, and that’s all that matters.

At Christmas, we can put all of the bad stuff on pause, focus on what’s really important, realise what we need the most from our family and friends, and thank them for it. Amends celebrates Christmas as a vital plaster to everyday life, and shows that we have so much more to be hopeful for in the coming New Year.

Frances Taylor

Frances Taylor

Frances likes words and pictures, regardless of media. She finds great comfort and escape in film, and is attracted to anything character-driven with a strong story. Through these stories, she will find meaning in the world. Three movies that Frances thinks are really good for this are You and Me and Everyone We Know (Miranda July), I’m A Cyborg, But That’s OK (Chan-Wook Park), and How I Ended This Summer (Alexei Popogrebsky).

When Frances grows up, she would like to write words and make pictures and have cool people recognise her on the street and tell her that they really enjoy her work.

She can be found overreacting and over-caffeinated on Twitter @penny_face, a childhood moniker from her grandmother owing to her gloriously round face.

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