Cultural Catchup Project: “Pangs”/”I Will Remember You” (Buffy and Angel)

“Pangs”/”I Will Remember You”

June 28th, 2010

You can follow along with the Cultural Catchup Project by following me on Twitter (@Memles), by subscribing to the category’s feed, or by bookmarking the Cultural Catchup Project page where I’ll be posting a link to each installment.

I noted in my review of the episodes of Angel which led up to “I Will Remember You” that Angel, as a character, wasn’t really the focus of the episodes in question. As pointed out in the comments, this is quite logical: Doyle is the new character who needs to be introduced properly for the series to succeed, and Cordelia best bridges the gap between Angel’s business and the kind of person he tends to help (the helpless). However, since “Bachelor Party” closed with Angel running off to rescue Buffy from peril, I sort of presumed that the latest crossover between the two series would help rectify this particular issue.

“Pangs” and “I Will Remember You” do, in fact, bring Angel back to the forefront of his own series, but I find it interesting how imbalanced the episodes are in his favour: while Buffy may appear in “I Will Remember You,” the episode’s narrative devalues the crossover from Buffy’s perspective to the point where these episodes don’t actually impact Buffy’s character in any substantial fashion. Buffy is a series currently juggling a large number of storylines, while Angel is by comparison fairly open-ended: as a result, while Buffy and Angel’s relationship completely takes over in “I Will Remember You,” “Pangs” remains grounded by Buffy’s ongoing arc to the point where the episode actually feels fairly uneventful (if still functional).

However, the value of the crossover is found in “I Will Remember You,” which is an incredibly important episode if we consider Angel as its own standalone series. To this point left in abstraction for viewers to fill in either through watching Buffy or learning about it from someone who watched the earlier series, Angel’s relationship with Buffy invades the spinoff in its nascent stages, a decision which is especially dangerous considering the narrative arc created in the episode. There’s every chance that this crossover, merging the two worlds together, will make it so viewers will wonder why they were ever split apart in the first place, and lead to resentment over the fact that they won’t truly be reconciling.

I’d argue, though, that a heavy dose of character-appropriate tragedy leads “I Will Remember You” away from nostalgic desires towards further building Angel as a protagonist in his own right, an important step for the spinoff series.

I think there is value to watching these two episodes together, but that value is primarily for Angel as opposed to Buffy. “Pangs” is not a bad episode of television, including some very funny moments from the season’s newest additions (Spike and Anya), but the central threat of Native American spirits looking to wipe out the human race is a wee bit hokey for me. There’s some interesting thematic stuff going on with Buffy demanding to hold Thanksgiving dinner, cementing the image of the group as a dysfunctional family (made all that more dysfunctional by the de-fanged Spike tied up at the dinner table), but the spirits seem like a distraction which keeps the episode from delving into what it means for Buffy to be emphasizing family togetherness within her College experience. Actually, I take that back: as Noel Murray elaborates in his own (excellent) review of this episode, there are a number of ways in which the spirits as an abstract idea raises questions about malevolence which ties nicely into Spike/Anya/Angel as similar figures within this particular family. However, I felt like the spirits were too one-dimensional in their actions, their malevolence played out through some on-the-nose arguments between Giles and Willow as opposed to through the Chumash tribe’s actions or words. I think that could have all been integrated more cleanly, although to Jane Espenson’s credit there were a lot of moving pieces in the episode so some shortcuts aren’t too surprising.

Angel doesn’t play a large role in “Pangs,” lurking in the shadows as he is wont to do, but his role in the episode is some compelling setup for the episode of Angel to follow. It’s great to see Angel and Giles discussing their roles in Buffy’s life, and we like that he gets another charming scene with Willow (“Who is that?”), and that he gets to meet Anya for the first time (“large and glowery” indeed), but his presence is largely so that we can understand Buffy’s frustration at the start of “I Will Remember You.” And, even then, Buffy kind of explains it quite succinctly in that opening scene: Angel went to Sunnydale, didn’t speak to Buffy in any way, and she’s not happy about it, so if you were to go from “Bachelor Party” to “I Will Remember You,” you really wouldn’t miss much of anything in terms of plot. However, I think there’s something important in seeing Angel watching Buffy, and seeing Angel struggle to deal with Doyle’s vision and his sense of responsibility. Buffy and Angel talk it out in “I Will Remember You,” but some of those conversations and scenes of Angel watching wistfully were pretty meaningful, and they help inform Angel’s side of the conversation (which is important in an episode so focused on that side of the relationship).

As for that episode, it’s a fairly clever bit of traginarrative for Angel as a character, adding yet another burden to his relationship with Buffy. I can see why some viewers may have felt cheated by the episode, given a glimpse of what life could be like for Angel and Buffy together but then seeing it all disappear when Angel gives up his mortality in order to better protect her, but I think that’s what the character has always been about. Buffy became his purpose in life when he was pulled out of the gutter by Whistler, and so part of the challenge of making a spin-off series is that his purpose in life needs to change. The idea of putting Angel in a position where he and Buffy can be together in true happiness, only to reveal to Angel that in that state of happiness he could no longer protect Buffy, is a strong way to resolve some of the tension left over in Angel’s departure. Angel is quite literally cursed to be unable to be with Buffy, and while that curse is a burden it is one that we’ve seen has actually made Angel the person he is: it has forced him to be pragmatic, and allowed him to develop into someone willing to help beyond his love for Buffy. In other words, for better or for worse, Angel’s curse defines him, and so to lose his immortality and his strength is to lose the part of himself which he has learned to live with and come to rely upon.

Forcing Angel to live with the memories of true happiness with Buffy, of chocolate, peanut butter and ice cream in bed, is a new layer of tragedy for the character where he gets to keep those memories while knowing that he is responsible for having made that an impossibility and erasing those moments from Buffy’s mind. It’s yet another burden he has to bear, which may seem like overkill to long-term Buffy viewers but is necessary to really bring Angel and Buffy’s relationship into the spinoff’s standalone narrative. While similar moments (like “Surprise”/”Innocence,” for example) have shown Buffy and Angel coming close to happiness only for it to end in tragedy, Angel as a series has yet to really see their relationship come together, and so the episode is necessary in order to simultaneously bring together and pull apart the two series. On the one hand, it reinforces the connection that Buffy and Angel share and its importance to both character, but on the other hand it recognizes the impossibility of their shared happiness and acknowledges that their paths lie apart. The crossover allows them to do this in a very direct fashion, dropping Buffy into Angel’s world and bringing to light the issues which spawned the spinoff in the first place (in terms of Angel’s decision to leave Sunnydale).

It’s a unique position for Angel as a series to be in, offering a litmus test of its success to this point: does Angel appearing on Buffy and Buffy appearing on Angel make us nostalgic for when the two characters shared the same series, or does it prove that Angel’s premise (defined largely independent of his connection with Buffy) is capable of standing on its own? I don’t think that there’s a definitive answer to this question (especially since there’s no standalone case of any real value integrated into “I Will Remember You” to directly contrast the two series), and I also don’t necessarily feel like Whedon and Co. know the answer (especially since, at this point, they’re likely still hedging their bets should Angel be canceled prematurely). There’s an experimental quality to Angel that makes an episode like this one that much more intriguing, as the series has been loosely defined enough that, if I had no knowledge of Buffy and its ongoing storylines which would have to be abandoned, there is every chance that Angel becomes mortal and the series goes in an entirely different direction. So while “Pangs” feels beholden to the series’ arc (which is only logical) and ends up too beholden to its somewhat clunky standalone storyline, “I Will Remember You” is a high concept, open-ended story which could be considered cheap but is philosophically complex enough to serve as a meaningful extension of Angel’s personal tragedies as opposed to a manipulation of viewers’ interests.

Cultural Observations

  • Seriously, I suggest you read Noel’s review of “Pangs” – as he was focusing more on Buffy, he delves further into the episode’s impact on that series and its growing stories. For the sake of the project, I was more interested in the crossover relationship, so I was very glad to see Noel went deeper into the Buffy side of things.
  • The one major look towards the future in “I Will Remember You” is the introduction of the Oracles, who are yet another level of bureaucracy between Angel and the people who send the visions that guide him. I thought the whole setup was more than a bit hokey visually speaking (the outfits, the cheap-looking set), but the dialogue/story of it all is a solid first glimpse at the mystery surrounding Angel’s world. It’s not quite serialization or even world-building, but it’s a move in that direction, which is always a good thing.
  • Loved the little detail of Doyle asking Angel what time it was to reinforce that he was forced to give up his watch – I presume it’s there so that we can draw a connection between hell, where time passes far more slowly than on Earth, and the location of the Oracles.
  • Anyone else immediately think “Shooby Dah-Boo-Dah-Boo-Dah” when reading the title of this Angel episode?
  • I’m willing to forgive Buffy a lot at this point, but it was dangerously close to earning an aggressive eyeroll for Buffy wrestling a live bear for as long as she did.
  • Loved Anya’s view of Thanksgiving as a ritual sacrifice – the character is so clearly on a different wavelength than anyone else that it’s a great but meaningful source of comedy this season.
  • I presume that there was some research done on the Chumash tribe ahead of the episode, but I think that this is one of those issues where demonizing a story of this nature doesn’t really help bring it to any sort of conclusion, especially when you consider that the ethical quandries of the conclusion are ultimately washed away in favour of murdering them in order to save their own lives.
  • Note that “Warrior” becomes important in both stories, in a more subtle bit of crossover: Angel is termed as a “warrior for the cause” in “I Will Remember You,” while Buffy is targeted by the Chumash as a result of her status as a warrior within her own culture.
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43 Comments

Filed under Cultural Catchup Project

43 responses to “Cultural Catchup Project: “Pangs”/”I Will Remember You” (Buffy and Angel)

  1. Thanks Myles! I was hoping we’d get another post from you soon. I personally disagree with you on most of what you’ve said on these two episodes, but that’s what makes it fun!

    Well, “disagree” is too strong of a word. Yes, the premise of Pangs is clunky and unwieldy and doesn’t really go anywhere. Yes, IWRY is a great way to connect AtS with BtVS, while simultaneously showing how the shows are, and must be, on separate paths.

    But I can’t STAND IWRY. Sure, the fun, giggly scenes eating in bed are sweet. But by this point in The Story Of Buffy, I’ve had about as much tearful, self-sacrificing Buffy/Angel melodrama as I can take. The actors do a good job, but it’s all about as meaningful to me as the melodrama Xander interrupts in The Zeppo.

    Conversely, I LOVE Pangs. (It is a tradition at my house to watch Pangs and the Four-Thanksgivings episode of Gilmore Girls while making Thanksgiving dinner.) I know that the plot is stupid, but I think it’s one of the funniest episodes in the whole show. I can’t defend it academically, I suppose (although the dysfunctional scooby family is pretty great) — I just connect with it on a pure-enjoyment level.

    And I happen to think that your head is the one that things roll off of! — This is the crack team that foiled all my plans? — We’ll mash them with forks, just as the pilgrims must have. — You made a bear! You made a bear! — It’s a yam sham! — He didn’t say, I came, I conquered, I feel really bad about it!

    And, of course: Imaginary Xander is quite the machine.

    • I don’t want the above to suggest that I didn’t enjoy “Pangs,” or those numerous humorous lines: I laughed a lot in the episode. This piece was just more about the relationship between the episodes than about my response to “Pangs.”

      I expect “Pangs” is an episode that will actually play better outside of the realm of the project, both because it seems so less consequential than its crossover partner and because you know in advance that parts will be a bit silly and can sort of just sit back and enjoy the ride.

      • Fair enough 🙂 I know that you’re doing something a bit more than “OMG LOLZ you guys!!!”

        Slightly off topic — Whedonesque posted to a new podcast today, where one fan and three newbies discuss Buffy. Their first ep is up, and they’re only talking about “Welcome to the Hellmouth,” but I think it’s hilarious, because it’s full of lines like, “And then I went, ‘Wait, that’s the wife from Dexter!’ ” It’s hard to look at these episodes and actors objectively when it’s almost fifteen years ago.

        • Eldritch

          Yeah, things change. I don’t know how old you are, but the older you get, the more people there are who haven’t lived long enough to know what seem like basic things. They don’t think she’s Darla, but Dexter’s wife. I run into people who don’t know what index cards are, what carbon paper is, or even that there are people still alive today who once could operate a typewriter.

          Funny how people with shorter memories look at things differently.

  2. Nicole

    Yes, I do agree with what the above commenter said. I love Pangs just because it’s so much *fun*. Angel/Buffy in IWRY was too much melodrama, and honestly, I’m glad they’re on their own separate shows. This just gives Angel more reason to be all angsty, as if he wasn’t already. Though the last scene with her crying and all that was pretty emotional and since I’m not a Bangel shipper I’ve got to say that the actors are brilliant, because they made me choke up a bit.

  3. Amy

    For pure enjoyment’s sake, I *have* to mention the comedic joy of…
    Spike: *panics* “You made a bear!”
    Buffy: “I didn’t mean to!”
    Spike: *hops, tied up in his chair* “Undo it! Undo it!”

    When I introduced this series to my boyfriend, this was the one moment when he almost died from laughter (and made me rewind and re-watch the scene at least 5 times in a row before we could proceed with the rest of the episode).

    Unfortunately, I have yet to convince him that Angel is worth a watch, as well.

    • Amy

      (Also, I just have to say that there are few pleasures in life quite as delightful as watching someone you love so thoroughly enjoy and be so thoroughly entertained by something as my boyfriend was that day.)

      🙂

  4. New thought, so new comment — Myles, I’m going to be really, really interested to hear your take on the crossovers after finishing these seasons. IWRY is, I think, considered to be one of the most important crossovers — and yet, as you point out, it has absolutely no effect on B4, and Buffy gives a nice little exposition in case you weren’t watching her show.

  5. Aeryl

    IWRY is a powerful episode, and I think it brings a nice conclusion to the Buffy/Angel story. It’s such a powerful episode, I rarely watch it.

    I’m not particularly invested in any of Buffy’s relationships, beyond what they mean to her life and the lessons they teach her.

    Plus the show wouldn’t be half as fun to watch if the characters were happy. ;D

    • Hmm…. I kind of like the idea of IWRY as a “conclusion.” Perhaps I’d find it less annoying if I viewed it as one-last-hurrah for the couple.

      Happy? What is this “happy” you speak of? No one in the Whedonverse gets to be happy!

  6. First, a tiny note: the Chumash spirits were not trying kill off the human race. Just the people that killed them… of which who are all dead now, which is one of the points of discussion in the episode.

    I have to agree with just about everyone above me so far: “Pangs” is probably the funniest episode of both shows for me. It’s just a nonstop laugh riot: “Undo it! Undo it!” and “You didn’t bring rolls?” and “It’s a ritual sacrifice. With pie.” Line-for-line I think this has the most comedy in it in any episode. Although I think you glossed over what the episode was getting at (as you pointed out), I do agree that the plot was pretty silly in its execution. But that is largely made up for by pure hilarity. I watch this every Thanksgiving with my family too. 😀

    “I Will Remember You” gives us one last moment of romantic sparks between Buffy and Angel. I think it’s an important moment for Angel as a character and a show, and also one that I can’t help but be affected by. That ending scene where Buffy finds out she only has a minute left is *heart-breaking*. The actors — especially Gellar — pull at my emotions so much and make me completely buy into the moment. I’m actually a little surprised that this scene wasn’t mentioned by you Myles. I know you’re looking at these shows from a particular perspective, but let’s see some emotion out of you too! 😉

    A fun thought about “I Will Remember You” — the official end of any remaining hope of a romantic future for the two of them — is in its connection to the episode “Angel” — the episode that really kicks off their relationship — in S1 of Buffy. At the end of that Buffy episode the song that is playing when they kiss (and the cross is burned into Angel’s chest) is called “I’ll Remember You.” The chorus?

    I’ll remember you, you will be there in my heart,
    I’ll remember you, but that is all that I can do,
    But I’ll remember

    Oh I love how many fun connections like this there are in these shows. 🙂

    Thanks again for thoughts Myles. It’s always fun to read a fresh perspective.

    • fivexfive

      I never knew that about the song “I’ll Remember You.” That is a really cool connection, I just watched that scene again.

  7. rosengje

    I am an unabashed fan of “I Will Remember You” despite the schmaltz factor. The way Buffy frantically says “It’s not enough time” right before the clock goes back gets me every single time. The one thing that bothers me about the episode is that I personally don’t feel like its events have significant future resonance on either series. I wish at the end that as Buffy was walking away we could see some type of realization pass over her face, a small suggestion that she knows something happened even if she cannot remember its entirety.

    For Angel, I guess that the lost day helps form his identity as a champion and embrace his new role in LA. However, I feel like his decision is somewhat complicated by what is revealed in the Shanshu prophecy.

    • Eldritch

      I just watched the Doctor Who season finale. In it the character Amy remembered all sorts of things she couldn’t possibly remember because reality (including her personal history) had changed. Logical inconsistencies like that make it hard for me to enjoy Doctor Who.

      I’m rather glad that Whedon doesn’t sacrifice story internal consistency for the sake of an easy emotional moment.

      • stevi

        Ack! Some of us in the States haven’t gotten to see the Doctor Who finale yet! Was totally not expecting to find spoilers randomly pop up here. Oh well, that cat’s out of the bag. Though I shouldn’t be surprised. I guess I kind of expected it to go that way.

        I felt a little bit like the Whedon crew used the memory wipe thing as kind of a cheating reset button on a few occasions, including in IWRY for Buffy’s sake. They let Angel remember, so that it could continue to affect his character, but were able to reset Buffy to eliminate any need for consequences in her story-arc. A similar scenario turns up later in one of the shows, allowing events to greatly affect one character, while others got a sizeable reset. I’m not sure if you’d call that using the unique tools of the fantasy-genre toolbox, or cheating (a la Doctor Who timey-wimey-ness).

        • Eldritch

          “Ack!”

          Don’t worry, yank, I didn’t spoil anything. I might as well have said the episode involved time travel.

          • stevi

            I guess I knew on some level that Moffat wouldn’t be so hard-hearted to let the “erased” remain erased. But I was kind of hoping for a logical explanation for it all. :-).

          • Eldritch

            “But I was kind of hoping for a logical explanation for it all.”

            That’s my problem with Doctor Who, no logic or internal story consistency. Not everyone is bothered by that, but I am. I understand that Dr. Who is going for the emotional impact. And that’s great for many. A commenter here wrote she wished Buffy would have smiled or somehow indicated that she remembered something of her being with human-Angel in IWRY. But that would have required her to remember something from a reality that never existed. Personally, I’m glad Whedon found internal story consistency important. It helps me enjoy the series much more. I also understand that not everyone values that in the same way I do.

          • Becker

            I have major issues with both series because of what I see some major story/history inconsistencies. Obviously I can’t talk about them for some considerable time though.

          • Eldritch

            “Obviously I can’t talk about them for some considerable time though.”

            Sounds like I’ve missed something. Can’t wait for you to raise the topic again when it’s time.

        • I got spoiled for the identity of a cylon on BSG while following the comments thread on Whedonesque reviewing a Dollhouse ep! Ah, well.

  8. Beth

    I have to say that when I watched “Pangs” for the first time, I too focused on and tried to make sense of the plot and was underwhelmed. I was baffled to find out that the episode was a fan favorite. But when I rewatched the seasons (and then again, and then again) I have completely changed my mind and “Pangs” is now one of my favorite episodes. It’s just hysterical – even the outlandish arguments for either side of the debate become a part of the zany-ness that is the episode.

    As for IWRY, when I think about the episode in retrospect, or in theory, I feel, as others have noted, that it is quite melodramatic. However, when I actually watch it, I react to the drama in a more visceral way. I’m no Bangel shipper by any means, but I always tear up at the end of that episode. The performances just draw me in. It is a huge step in Angel as a character, but heartbreaking for him.

    Ooh – “Something Blue” is up next!

  9. Austin

    I can’t believe no one has mentioned the Bicycle Cavalry Charge! I die laughing every time! Joss has listed it as one of his all time favorites.

    Anyways, you now have the two best crossovers coming up: the Buffy two parter followed by the Angel two parter, and then the Season 5/2 Crossover, they are both really good, I am interested to see what you have to say about them.

  10. greg

    Couple of oddities I feel the need to point out:

    1- Anya already met Angel, back in ‘Doppelgangland.’ Or at least they were in the same room together. Seems odd she wouldn’t have noticed him before (or that the writers (and the actors?) would have forgotten) though I guess it’s not out of character that she would have been just too focused on her own issues to pay any attention.

    2- I can never figure out why Doyle has a vision of Buffy being attacked by the vamp in the opening teaser. You know, the one she dusts casually in a matter of seconds? Seems like post-production could have inserted an actual scene of the big fight in there instead, no? Very odd.

    • Becker

      1) The writers actually possibly did forget, or felt that the situation was such that she might not remember him. I just saw basically the same thing in another episode. The writers are very busy and usually running late so it’s very easy to lose track of a little detail like that.

      2) Actually since the Angel episode was shot two weeks earlier – Angel’s filming schedule being one episode ahead and the scene being at the end of the previous episode – there was only time to use whatever fight scene was ready by the deadline for network notes, etc.

  11. AO

    As a definite fan of “IWRY”, I’m surprised by some of the previous comments.

    I was never a big fan of Angel the character. Don’t get me wrong, I certainly never hated him, but through his appearances in BtVS I never found him particularly charismatic or appealing. He was just sort of “there”. Therefore, I was a bit wary when the time came to watch his series. I liked Cordelia, but in Buffy she always struck me as very much a supporting character. And after I began watching I never had any fondness for Doyle. Up to this point, Angel the show had had some fun moments, and it showed promise, but I was mostly watching because I had already bought the Series DVD Set, and because it was Whedon, and because my history with Joss’ shows had taught me never to assume (for a terribly long time I assumed that BtVS the series was a poor rip-off of the film 😳 ).

    “IWRY” was where all of that changed for me. It was a wake-up call. The demons and vampires and plots and schemes up to this point had been (at times) entertaining, but with this Episode the show proved to me that it was capable of (imo) some emotionally involving writing and acting. The strength of this Episode (imo) forced me to pay closer attention and give the show a lot more respect. For perhaps the first time in either series I cared about Angel, as he became an authentic character to me. I couldn’t help but root for them to find a way to be together in “IWRY” and I was genuinely sorry when the end came, and they had to part (despite my already knowing that they would). Melodramatic or not, it worked very well for me, and marked the point where I finally began to enjoy this show.

  12. morda898

    Hey Myles, you didn’t tell us whether you teared up at the climax of IWRY. You know that scene where Sarah and David both give it there all and wrench an audience’s heart with their “forbidden love of all time” to quote Cordy.

    Come on Myles, no one will judge you for shedding a tear or two. Heck, it’s expected!

  13. diane

    I’m one of those who doesn’t like IWRY; I find it overly sweet (anyone remember using “saccharine” to describe such things?) However, once the series split, each meeting between Buffy and Angel takes on a completely different nature, and the next meeting is more than enough antidote for IWRY.

    Myles is right that IWRY serves to help separate Angel’s identity as a separate series that stands on its own, but that’s a continuing journey that takes another big step with the next episode, “Heroes.” I’m looking forward to Myles’s reaction on that one.

  14. Gill

    I think you’re right, Myles, about the function of IWRY being to separate the series still further – as the first crossover did. Indeed, in both In the Dark and IWRY, Angel himself makes the active choice to throw away the possibility of a conventional happy existence with Buffy. In both he makes the decision alone, for the benefit of others but without consulting them or listening to valid arguments which do not fit his choice. Just as when he left Buffy at the end of S3, he chooses for her benefit without offering her the option of any choice herself.

    In many ways that ties in thematically with Pangs, which is also about the long-term consequences of short-term choices, but from a different perspective. I think you are possibly dismissing the episode a little too readily. Like IWRY, it signals important changes – Marsters is in the credits. Spike, like Angel, is on the outside, looking in (the hilarious Dickensian scene of the vamp “family” happily sharing a meal which he watches through a dirty window) at the start, but by the end of the episode he is within the self-created “family group”, albeit tied up. Symbolically he has replaced Angel, who is now in the dark as he was.

    Moreover, while the Chumash story can be regarded as clunky, the theme of displaced persons is important throughout. Anya and Spike are at the heart of a social event, Thanksgiving, that is meaningless to them. (Spike presumably grew up in a country, Britain, without that tradition.) Harmony, like the Chumash, asserts her separate identity and the fact that she throws Spike out of her home is a neat inversion of the fact that the Chumash could never throw the invaders out of their home.

    Themes of reparation, forgiveness and how one should respond to former enemies also echo – Spike’s comment on how to handle imperialist guilt is both funny and perceptive: You won. All right? You came in and you killed them and you took their land. That’s what conquering nations do. It’s what Caesar did, and he’s not going around saying, “I came, I conquered, I felt really bad about it.” The history of the world isn’t people making friends. You had better weapons, and you massacred them. End of story. – and it pretty much sums up Buffy and the gang’s attitudes to the vampires and monsters they have killed in the past, one representative of whom is now amongst them. Spike, we have been told, is old enough to have lived through the era of Manifest Destiny and the expansion westwards and to have seen it from a totally different perspective. Not for the first or the last time his outsider’s perspective gives pause for thought as well as being funny.

    I am hugely looking forward to your take on events in the next two-three episodes of each show. They include some of my favourite elements and one of the episodes generally found in most fans’ top five.

  15. Karen

    Yes, much gnashing of teeth over IWRY for various reasons from various factions. I’m NOT a BAngel shipper yet I love the episode, including its tear jerky romantic tragedy. The issue I take away is this: somehow Xander manages to hang in the mix with very human powers, yet Angel is afraid to take that chance. Yes, the episode as written stacks the deck to force Angel to that conclusion. But upon reflection when seeing IWRY the first time, and especially after five seasons, I would have liked a little more ambiguity in Angel’s decision…I think it should have been written that Angel feared Buffy couldn’t survive without him watching her back with supernatural powers – possibly a bit of hubris on his part. And that’s one of the strengths of Buffy/Angel. The series are complex enough and layered enough to provide multiple examinations of the issues within each episode in retrospect!

    Deleted. As others noted, it’s hard to discuss some things without edging (or jumping) into spoilerdom. Just like to add that imo, IWRY is an attempt to show that the full-tilt, angsty first love of high school is NOT one’s destiny.

    And I LOVE Pangs. I too watch it every Thanksgiving. Your comment to Vol-manslaughter that Pangs will play better without the crossover issue is very true. While I was one who favored doing both Buffy and Angel, it was so I could read about your reactions to both, not actually to delve into how the shows are connected. I don’t say this is a spoiler, but others might…..

    …………..

    Imo, pretty soon, the connection will be tangential as it relates to Buffy and Angel as characters. After Angel S1, the crossovers are more significant for other characters and the connection between the shows is one of “comfortable slippers – not essential but nice.” It makes the Buffyverse seem larger and more multifaceted than otherwise, but not essential to either show.

  16. Susan

    Pretty much everyone has said anything I could possibly say about this awesome crossover. I totally love both episodes, but I agree with those who say “Pangs” works better for enjoyment than for plot advancement. But how enjoyable it is!

    (A side note to Amy–“Pangs” is the ep that got my husband to at least realize that Buffy was something more than your average TV show. He’ll never fully share my obsession, but he now can recite almost every Spike line written.)

    I don’t know that I’ll go so far as to call myself a Buffy/Angel “shipper” (and I don’t do that name mash-up thing), but I’ve always been a sucker for doomed romance, and it’s definitely my favorite of Buffy’s relationships–perhaps ironically, I grew to prefer that coupling even more as Angel evolved in his own series.

    I love IWRY because it really brings the pain hard. The “happy” scenes are cute, sure, and seeing Angel relaxed and really smiling is certainly a new experience, but that last scene is just devastating. SMG and DB (SMG especially) are wonderful in it.

    But more, as many of us have now said, this episode, and the choice Angel makes in it, does really set Angel on his path. He is a champion. He is not a “lower being,” and his path is not Buffy’s path. One BtVS, despite his importance in her life, he was a sidekick. Now he is an equal.

    Let’s not talk about Shanshu yet, though.

    IWRY will resonate like crazy in the crossovers coming up toward the end of the season.

  17. Bob Kat

    Opinions do differ on “IWRY;” Topping called it “fan-fiction.” (And, I admit, the ways I changed both characters in my own sub-‘verse to reunite them stem directly from this epsiode.) It is both saccharine and schmaltzy, but on the other hand provides a needed – reinforcement?- coda?- “thing” to Angel’s decision to leave Buffy the previous spring.
    Introducing a cure for vampirism does pose problems for the ‘verse; sneaky but necessary that Mohra demons were never mentioned again.
    And there is a hole in the premise behind Angel’s decision. We’ve seen normal men -Giles, Xander, Wesley, Oz most of the time- learn how to survive and fight in these environemtns. Angel could, too. Yes, that brings up another set of problems and isn’t a workable story arc but that doesn’t make it not a hole.
    Re “Pangs” as an unrepentant Reaganite happy to see the PC Police get skewered I find it interesting to see it coming from a proud liberal like Joss; then again, he’s a definitely an iconoclast and cursed with that unforgiveable kind of intelligence which allows him to see different sides of an issue.
    I do love the jokes, (I seem to be the only person who notices the _Get Smart_ reference) and Buffy’s feeligns about the ricer mirror her comments about a tea cozy in “Anne.” (NB; a ricer is a billy-club shaped wooden instrument used for pushing cooked potatoes thru the holes ina colander.)

    And myr eading on the subject tends to make me think writers can’t be continuity freaks like soem fans are; they don’t have the luxury of memorizing these shows like soem of us do. The idea of Anya not recalling Angel because she was hung up on her own concerns before is a superb fanwank, altho it would have been cute to ahve an exchange like “Well, Angel, you’re as large and glowery as Ir emember you.” “And I wish I could say it’s nice to see you again, Anya.”

    cultural references; I recall actors by name instead of role and don’t pay much attention to musical soundtracks, but “IWRY” always reminds me of the ELvis ALoha From Hawaii concert….

  18. Anna

    I’m apparently in the minority, maybe I can’t stand IWRY and find Pangs only slightly amusing, but nothing special. Part of it is probably because my country doesn’t have Thanksgiving day, so that aspect has always been personally alien to me.

    As far as IWRY goes, I hate the B/A relationship, I can tolerate it in BtVS but beyond it’s just beating a dead horse with no forward movement. The end of this episode does nothing to me, which is odd since while SMG’s tears have never worked on me, DB usually can make me connect with his emotions very easily. My hate for this episode also stems from the fact that it’s pretty much useless. You can skip it and not miss much, beyond the B/A action. I don’t think it really brings anything new to the characters or the world(s). The forgotten day is mentioned once, maybe twice. Although I do think after this episode Angel started to really move on from Buffy, and the only reason I wish that Buffy had found out about it, is because I think it really would have helped with her development if she found out that instead of choosing her, Angel basically chose his job, when he had the chance.

  19. Becker

    I thought “Pangs” was funny, but the funny didn’t make up for the problems in it and as such, fun lines and all, I’m not that big of a fan of it.

    I am so not a B/A shipper and also am so glad that I was a fan back when people wrote B/A and didn’t attempt to combine the names. That combo name is awful. Personally, I thought the bed/food scene was overkill and was happy when the clock reset. I did not shed a tear and was glad when she walked out.

    It made sense to me that Angel would chose what he chose and why he did it. His instincts are always to protect her and he couldn’t do that as human and their feelings for each other are such that it was reasonable for him to believe that she might be in danger if he were in danger. As he would distract her more than Xander of Giles in the same situation as her relationship with him was much different. I’m also not convinced that things would really work for her if she’s not with someone who is at least relatively an equal. I’d get into more but I’d get into spoiler territory, and probably not the spoilers others reading would think.

    A lot of B/A shippers hated this episode and we threw out a lot of chocolate and peanut butter that they seemed to think would at all sway us to get them back together. Which sucked because I like the stuff but won’t eat chocolate sent by anonymous angry fans.

    “I Will Remember You” always makes me think of the then nearly unavoidable Sarah McLachlan song. As a fan of hers I was even more exposed to it as it was the B-side to nearly every single single for a while.

    Speaking of music for a moment, I’ve been curious as to what you think about the theme songs to both shows. Both as pieces of music and as to how they represent their respective series.

  20. lyvvie

    To pick up on something you’ve mentioned in this review and others, regarding the focus not being much on Angel the character, I have been thinking of it and I found this quote from Joss, “We initially saw Angel as being more of a guardian for other characters, but we found that the audience was much more emotionally invested in Angel”. I believe I’m right in saying Angel was renewed for another season about mid-way through S1 and I do think there is more of a shift from that point. But more is spoilers!

    As regards these episodes, another great review Myles. I feel like everyone else has pretty much covered my thoughts. I’ll steal from one person and say that while ‘Pangs’ is funny, Thanksgiving is lost on me so the episode isn’t quite the classic for me as it is for some.

    Beth completely captured my feelings on IWRY, I tend to think of it as saccharine and dull but when I end up watching it I’m completely engrossed. The bit that gets me is not the crying and begging, but Angel’s quiet ‘forget’ right at the end.

    Really like your comment on Angel’s actual need for the curse to know who he is/what he should be, very insightful.

  21. Becker

    Myles, I forgot to mention earlier to put aside thinking that the writers were worried about not getting picked up. They weren’t. Many later episodes (I specifically remember 14 and 17) were written before episode two was even shot. Due to the way the WGA works, writers only write episodes they are going to get paid for so the writers started writing with no concerns about not getting paid for the episodes, also with little knowledge of where the episodes were going to end up in the schedule. Tracey Stern wrote ep 14 before she wrote ep 7. So you can put aside thinking the writers were concerned about cancellation during S1.

  22. KokoBuffs

    Pangs is not only arguably the funniest episode of the entire series, but also imho, it has layers of intellectual complexity beneath the surface, as well as continuing thematic lessons…I think of “Lie to Me” sort of, in a more relatable context.

    Some thoughts:
    I didn’t have a problem with the Chumash vengeance spirits or whatever lacking dimension. If we had no context for what happened to Native Americans, we would need more backstory and actual real representation, etc. Some see that as a failing, but I see it as an artistic and narrative choice. As with many other episodes, the central demons in the episodes are simply the Macguffin. The knowledge that we bring and fairly universal view of the extermination of native Americans as a historical bad, allows for the ongoing dialogue itself, responses to the event centuries later, to be the true centerpiece.

    The episode wasn’t supposed to be about giving voice to the struggle of the Chumash—too easy—it was exploring some of the voices that become the “heirs” to the struggle. About how we handle the spectre, the legacy of historical wrongs. So apropos that the focus was shifted to the 2-dimensional heirs of that history, and the Native Americans as one-dimensional ghosts.

    I don’t think it was out of character for Willow to be all wishy-washy about what to do in the situation (even without taking into account the idealistic college freshman aspect) . I didn’t get a sense that Willow was acting like she was ok with the Native American spirits killing people. It was more like she was just too focused on her (self-imposed) guilt about it. When she’s pushed by others to follow her thoughts to the next logical step in the present, she acknowledges briefly the flaw in her logic, offers no RELEVANT suggestion, then circles back to the pathos where it’s more comfortable. Xander, experiencing no such comfort, has neither the time nor the patience for the pathos. As such, his responses are shaped by different and more present concerns. Giles, by his “visitor” status, owning no part of that history…except for being the reason “we had to have pilgrims in the first place’ LOL.

    Willow’s inability (and luxury, as the sidekick) to move from pure feeling mode—relevance in the present context be damned—is ridiculous and comical…yet she makes valid points.
    Spike’s ability (and luxury, as the soulless) to just get right to the point is bombastic and comical…yet he makes valid points.
    Xander…well, is the physical manifestation of VALID POINT.

    It is this choice for the characters to represent the varying social/psychological responses to these types of historical injustices and atrocities, without being heavy-handed and obvious or very special episody that makes me rank this ep high in quality, not to mention the non-stop laugh riot, dry wit, and comedic timing of the director and actors (Buffy: You know how bad I feel about this. It’s eating me up—quarter cup of brandy and let it simmer—but even though it’s hard, we have to end this*).

    Taking varying perspectives and giving voice to them through characters who all represent protagonists we love, signifies that there’s nothing evil about those differing perspectives—harder to demonize them. And ironically, when you look to the demon, Spike, for the evil perspective, you have to pause along with the other protagonists, cause…sure he’s evil, but… “some of that made sense.” Keep these inherently whedonesque artistic storytelling choices in mind for future analyses, cause apparently, sorting out right and wrong, good and evil, as portended in “Lie to Me,” isn’t getting any easier.

    *Although this is played for laughs, there’s some truth behind it. Despite her hesitancy to act, Buffy is a little more used to making these tough, unpleasant choices, so despite her protest, it’s a little bit more of an “image” thing…She’s just working her way to the inevitable, cause she’s had practice with that moral gray, and this is just the latest complication in her position as hero/warrior for her people.

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