Author's Chapter Notes:
Episodes 1-6: [BtVS] Buffy vs. Dracula, Real Me, The Replacement, Out of My Mind, No Place Like Home, and Family.
[AtS] Judgment, Are You Now or Have You Ever Been?, First Impressions, Untouched, Dear Boy, and Guise Will Be Guise.
[AtS] Judgment, Are You Now or Have You Ever Been?, First Impressions, Untouched, Dear Boy, and Guise Will Be Guise.
BtVS: I'm excited about starting both of these new seasons. I have no idea what's going to happen in general. I have a feeling that the Buffy/Spike arc is going to get started, and I think Dawn pops up at some point, but other than that, I have no idea what to expect. A lot of folks have said this is one of their favorite seasons, so I'm excited about that. I really liked season 4 because it took the characters in so many new and interesting directions. I'm hoping that feeling will continue.
A:tS: Eeee, we get to see what's up with Darla! I'm so excited! I'm clueless as to how all of this is going to go, and at this point, I have no idea if Darla is a demon or a vampire or a human. Because of the way she was naked and shivering and disoriented when she appeared at the end of the last season, I'm going to guess they brought her out of some hellish dimension, similarly to the way Angel was brought back. And so that means she's probably exactly who she was before, an evil vampire. And she probably has an axe to grind with Angel, since he was the one who staked her.
BtVS 1: Buffy Vs. Dracula
[Buffy is shaken by the awesome power when she comes face to face with the greatest vampire of all time, Dracula. Meanwhile, Xander becomes the dark one’s emissary and leads his friends into peril.]
Wow. Seriously? Wow. That was quite a way to start the season!
It was really cool to see that Buffy is, as always, struggling with issues related to being the Slayer. It was also interesting to me that the show started off with the theme of her being restless (nice tie in to the last episode) and slaying almost for the rush of it. The beach scene was fun. "Buffy slayed the football." When did she get a tattoo?
And hee, Dracula! That was fun, especially how starstruck everyone was by him. (And he was kinda hot, I have to admit.) I loved Spike's, "Poncy bugger owes me eleven pounds." It was particularly funny that Xander was the one who was manipulated into serving him, eating bugs and everything. The "Master... bator" line seemed like a nod to Rocky Horror. And his utter fury about these things always happening to him at the end of the episode was interesting. I wonder if that means his character is about to take a turn of sorts.
The biting-as-sex metaphor was really interesting in this show. It's also interesting to me that in general, male vampires sire female vampires and female vampires sire males. I know it's not a hard-and-fast rule by any means, but it seems pretty clear that they're playing on the sexual aspect of it. (Which makes me think all sorts of fun Angel/Penn thoughts, but I digress.) So the biting scene between Dracula and Buffy here was very erotic, and not even remotely subtle about that. Even Riley's reaction to finding out about the bite mark that Buffy had been hiding like a hickey was spot-on jealousy. It was also interesting that Dracula saw the scar on Buffy's neck from where Angel bit her and seemed a bit jealous that he hadn't been the first.
The tie-in with the last line from Restless was very cool, and I'm wondering what effects there will be from Buffy drinking Dracula's blood. At that moment, it seemed to give her a bit of clarity, but I'm sort of hoping it isn't that simple, that maybe she'll wind up with a bit of a dark streak or something. It was funny that she had to stake him a couple of times, and even then it wasn't clear that he's actually dead. An unkillable vampire is a pretty cool idea. Though also scary.
I was worried at the beginning about Giles saying he was leaving. For some reason, I thought he really might go. So when Buffy told him she wanted to start training again at the end, I burst into tears. God, I love the relationship between those two, and I want to see it strengthen.
And hello, Dawn has appeared? I didn't think that would happen until later in the season, wow. I guess the explanation for that is coming in the next episode. I hope?
A:tS 1: Judgment
[Angel protects a pregnant woman being hunted down by Demons after he inadvertently slays her guardian. Meanwhile, Angel struggles with the discovery that he may not always be eternal and Darla recovers from her resurrection from Hell.]
And another fantastic season opener! The beginning sequence was perfect, with Cordelia and Wesley both interrupting things they were doing (and doing well) to answer a page from Angel, and then the three of them storming into that health club to save the day. Loved it! The scene in Cordy's apartment that followed was fun. You could really see how much the three of them have developed as a team, and the dynamic between them was great fun to watch.
It seemed pretty clear that the theme of this episode was Angel struggling to figure out how to be patient and let the future and his destiny come to him. When he went to seek it, he made a mistake that threw him off in a big way. It was interesting that the demon he accidentally killed was like himself: determined to conquer his own nature, helping people, even living underground with a lot of lit candles. And was apparently Buddhist, which I thought was an interesting touch. I like the episodes where Angel is all introspective, though. It always means he grows as a character.
I'm wondering if the pregnant woman's child will be something that becomes important later. The jousting and battle scene was interesting. Angel sure gets run through with swords a lot. Anything that leaves his clothes in shreds is fine by me, though.
I have to say that the demon karaoke bar was hilarious! It had this great Star Wars cantina feel about it, and OMG, the singing! As soon as Angel protested singing ("Three things I don't do: tan, date, and sing in public." Why wasn't dancing on that list?), I knew he'd be back up there at some point. And OMG, Barry Manilow? That was hilariously bad. I don't know if DB can sing IRL, but I think it takes talent to fake being that bad. It was also fun to see the outtakes from the singing over the credits, like they did with the dancing last season.
And we saw Darla! I hope we get to see her and Angel interact soon. *bounces*
BtVS 2: Real Me
[Buffy's slaying is hampered by sibling rivalry with Dawn, who gets kidnapped by a vampire gang led by Harmony.]
All right -- let me get this straight. Dawn has just been plunked into the Buffyverse with no explanation, as if she was here all along. And everyone remembers her as always having been around, sort of like the whole Jonathan thing. And that's just... it? I have to say that's pretty annoying. And she's a regular cast member, which means we have to see her every frickin' episode? I don't know what I expected, but I thought there'd be some sort of explanation for her appearance.
I know, I know. I should just trust that Joss knows what he's doing. I do. Really, I do. *sigh*
The entire episode seemed to be centered around establishing that Dawn is an annoying little shit, which was possibly not the best-spent hour of my life. I got hopeful when that crazy homeless guy came up to her and made a Miss Muffet reference and then told her "You don't belong here". I thought, something might come of that, but alas, no. I guess I'm going to have to be patient.
Harmony and her minions were certainly a highlight of the episode. She is really quite funny as a vampire, and Xander's and Buffy's reactions to Harmony's threats were funny. "Harmony has minions?" followed by laughter. The one vampire calling the other one "sirewhipped" for stealing her a unicorn for Harmony was funny too. Buffy dispatched all of those minions with little trouble, which was cool.
So Giles is going to buy the Magic Box and run it. Well, they do need a new place to hang out, I suppose, and this will be a good way for them to be able to get new and interesting things that will help them with the slayage. I'm glad Buffy is taking her Slayer training more seriously. The beginning scene with her and Giles training was very Empire Strikes Back.
And Dawn's line at the end was perfectly ominous: "She still thinks I'm nobody, just her dumb little sister. Boy is she in for a surprise." I don't know how much of this fighting between Buffy and Dawn I'm going to be able to take, though. I hate that shit.
A:tS 2: Are You Now or Have you Ever Been?
[In the 1950s, Angel aids a woman hiding from her past inside a hotel with a long history of death and mayhem. In the present day Angel hunts down a Demon responsible for the carnage.]
Oh, what a lovely episode this was! One of the great things about immortal characters who've been around for a while is that the possibilities for where they've been and what they've done are nearly endless. How cool is that?
I really didn't expect the guy in the hotel room that the bellhop was so afraid of to be Angel. That was a surprise. But wow, it was so amazing to see what he used to be like, before he met Buffy and turned his life around: completely isolated, unfeeling, antisocial, aloof. And a smoker, which was like, whoa. I think the moment I really realized just how different he was was when he heard the gunshot in the next room and didn't even blink. He didn't care.
Another feature of this episode that was really interesting was the time capsule we saw, with a black family being turned away from the hotel, the McCarthy hearings on TV, the gay couple having to hide, and the damsel in distress fleeing for her life after being rejected by society for being mixed-race. The weird thing is that when she said she was "passing", I thought, "Oh, she's really a man!" That was seriously the first thing that popped into my head, especially after the gay couple in the corridor. And then she said "for white" and it took me about as long as it took Angel to understand what she meant.
That seemed to be the thing that inspired him to help her, though -- he saw something of himself in her, just like he later did with Faith. I got the feeling that was the first time he ever tried to help anyone. And of course, it backfired and made the demon stronger, and so he gave up and walked away at the end, leaving all of the people to the demon. Wow. And how interesting that he went back to right that wrong fifty years later.
And the woman was still there, which was horrible because she had already told him she couldn't bear to go to jail because she couldn't stand the thought of being trapped. But she spent the rest of her life in that hotel room. And when Angel freed her, she just died. So horribly tragic.
I thought it was interesting at the end that he decided to lease (or buy?) the building. I guess that money he'd hidden is still good? Even buildings get a second chance with Angel. That's pretty cool.
How interesting that damsels in distress have always been his weakness.
BtVS 3: The Replacement
[Confusion reigns when Xander is split into two Xanders, each representing different sides of his personality.]
This was a really nice episode. Minimal Dawn presence, and a great focus on Xander. It made me think a bit of The Zeppo back from S3, in that we got to see a side of Xander we don't see so often. And in this case once again, he was literally on the outside looking in.
The demon splitting him in two was really interesting. Oddly, that was the first thing I thought had happened. In my notes, I wrote. "Did he get split into his cool and dorky parts?" And when the gang all started talking about one of them being a demon trying to take his place, I decided my first impulse was wrong. And so when it turned out that was actually right, I was pleased, heh. This was a clever way to get Xander to expand his vision of what he could be, of course. Cool Xander was willing to take risks and had the confidence to do things ordinary Xander would never be able to do. That might have been just the kick he needed to get moving with his life.
Lots of fun dialogue in this one:
Giles: "I'm not dead or unconscious, so I say bravo for me."
Buffy: "I've got it covered from A to Z. Axe to... ze other axe."
Giles: "Oh dear lord. ... I said, oh dear lord."
Giles, after hearing Anya ask if she could take both Xanders home and have sex with them: "Let's all just pretend we didn't hear the disturbing sex talk."
And aw, Riley at the end was almost heartbreaking. He loves Buffy more than anything, but he knows she doesn't love him the same way. I really, really feel for him. I suppose this is the beginning of the end of their relationship?
Edit, 9/25: I looked up the summary for this episode and saw that some of the scenes with two Xanders had Nicholas Brendon's twin brother in them. Hee! He apparently had almost no lines, though, and Nick did most of the actual acting of the two Xanders.
A:tS 3: First Impressions
[Angel encounters an amorous Darla in his dreams. Meanwhile, Cordelia vows to protect Gunn after she experiences a vision depicting him in mortal danger.]
Very sexy episode. Just the idea that Angel was having all of these erotic dreams was just... guh. All of the Darla/Angel bits were awesomely hot, even though she's apparently taking over his life through the dreams and weakening him somehow. The teasing with ice cubes, her stripping him and straddling him on the couch, and the bit towards the end where she was clearly moving south (with a nice cut to him squirming in bed), were all very lovely eye candy -- and then she really appeared in his room! I'm thinking I need some lovely Angel/Darla smut now. I have to say, though, that the fact that he looked so happy with her in his dream was really quite sad. He's so lonely, poor boopsie. I have a feeling he's going to have a hard time dealing with her, considering what she really is. If she actually is what she really is. Or... whatever.
The storyline with Cordelia and Gunn was interesting here. At first I thought Cordelia was the one who caused all the trouble, that she had misinterpreted the vision and just by trying to help him she nearly got him killed. It wasn't until the end that I realized she actually was right about him, that he needs to let go of some of his anger and find other ways to channel it, or he'll self-destruct. And did I sense some Cordy/Gunn sparks there?
The scene where Angel tackled Wesley while naked was fun, especially since Wesley seemed a bit distracted by it. And then the whole thing with the pink motorcycle helmet was funny. You'd think Angel would be pretty secure in his sexuality after all this time. Of course, he had to fix his hair again when it came off, I noticed.
I'm looking forward to seeing what happens next with Darla. This should be really interesting!
BtVS 4: Out of My Mind
[The physical aftereffects of Riley’s being used as a lab rat by the Initiative threaten his life; Spike takes advantage of the situation.]
It feels like the story is really getting rolling here. The tension between Buffy and Riley was really high, even from the beginning of the episode. I thought it was really interesting that both Riley and Spike were in the graveyard at the beginning, both annoying Buffy equally, almost as a metaphor for how the men in her life are always going to interfere with slaying. It's funny how something funny always happens to Spike when he tries to be uber-evil.
Spike's obsession with Buffy really seemed to be coming to a head in this episode, and I was starting to wonder if something would happen. I mean, he basically spent the entire episode talking about how much he hated her, plotting to kill her, making Harmony help him in his plan to kill her, trying to kill her and failing, and then ranting more about how much he hated her until I thought for sure Harmony was going to be the one to tell him he seemed to care about Buffy just a little too much. The dream sequence at the end was frickin' awesome, and Spike's reaction to it was perfect. Being in love with Buffy is absolutely the worst thing that could happen to him. And so of course, that's what has happened. Hee!
I love YouTube! Spike's dream here.
Oooh, what's wrong with Joyce? When she turned to Dawn and said, "Who are you?" I wondered if she was having some moment of clarity, and then she fainted. I'm guessing we haven't seen the end of that. There was pleasantly little Dawn in this episode. Yay.
I'm not sure what's going to happen with Riley. It sounds like he's going to self-destruct and break Buffy's heart. He wants to be at her side so badly and he just can't do it. The quickie heart surgery was a little odd, as well as the fact that he's all "fixed" now and back on his feet. That seemed weird. And LOL on the neurosurgeon not taking Spike's chip out. I almost felt sorry for Spike for a moment there.
Harmony is like the worst evil thing ever. I love it!
A:tS 4: Untouched
[Angel attempts to help a girl with telekinetic powers before she falls into the hands of Wolfram and Hart. Meanwhile, Angel is somewhat off his game due to nocturnal visits by Darla.]
Can I just say that the title of this episode alone gave me naughty thoughts? Naughty thoughts that didn't really come to fruition, but still.
So Angel's dreams are being controlled by Darla directly, which means he's probably not actually sleeping at all. His growing crankiness is actually kind of funny since Cordelia and Wesley seem quite capable of handling it. Cordelia standing up to his attempts to be the leader was cute. She seems to know exactly when to call his bluff and when to back down, which is really interesting.
The topic of this episode was something new, a human who had developed a psychic power from a trauma. She was an interesting character too, really dark and unbalanced. Angel seems to be pretty good at handling people like that. The antipathy between Angel and Lilah was great, but I'm missing Lindsay. I think I like that antipathy better. Is it just me, or does Cordelia seem to have some feelings for Angel that go beyond friendship? She was watching Bethany very carefully, almost jealously. Of course, the sniping between her and Wesley at the beginning of the episode was pretty much screaming sexual tension.
Or maybe I'm just obsessed with the possibilities for smut. Huh.
There were some fun lines in this one.
Angel: "Do you know how hard it is to think straight with a rebar through your torso?"
Cordelia: "Yes, I do. Benefits of a Sunnydale education."
Angel: "I've lived a long time, seen a lot of horrors. And some fashion trends I pray to forget."
Angel: "I was having a nightmare."
Bethany: "It looked like a happy dream. Or maybe the covers were just rumpled."
Bethany (hitting on Angel): "I thought it would make us happy."
Angel: "You wouldn't like me happy."
BtVS 5: No Place Like Home
[Buffy discovers more about her newly arrived little sister, and the girls are distressed when Joyce suddenly becomes ill without any explanation, medical or supernatural.]
All right, five episodes in, we finally get some answers about Dawn. Thank heavens, because that was going to make me crazy. It's interesting that Buffy is the only one who knows, and I'm sure it's going to stay that way for a while. I'm also guessing that Joyce's headaches are due to the whole thing, maybe the difficulty of having her memory altered.
There were lots of little interesting bits in this one that reminded me somewhat of the Jonathan episode, just in the way that Buffy was the one who noticed something was a bit "off", like Buffy being intensely jealous of the attention Dawn was getting from her mom, saying "my mom" as a slip of the tongue, and wishing she was an only child. It's been fairly un-Buffy-like to have that much nasty tension between her and another person, almost OOC, so I guess it makes sense in retrospect. It also makes a little more sense now why Buffy and her mom were hovering over a 14-year-old as if she were 7, and not leaving her alone for an instant. So now Buffy knows, and she also has to protect Dawn. What if that means losing her mother? It's all so ominous.
And now I'm wondering how many people's memories were affected. I mean, would it have affected Angel too? I still don't like Dawn very much. I feel a little sorry for her now, but I don't really like her.
I'm having a feeling that Glory isn't dead just yet. She looked an awful lot like the vampire Sunday from the beginning of season 4. At least now we know where the crazy guys came from, and why they seemed to know something about Dawn and Buffy.
Giles's shop seems to be doing well, though I was wondering if that had something to do with the orb Buffy found. And the bell ringing when Buffy walked in -- was that something from Restless? It seemed awfully familiar. And ooh, Anya said something about the Hand of Glory requiring a seven-day background check! I should think so.
Spike standing outside Buffy's house and smoking a pack of cigarettes was probably the cutest thing ever. And he was almost nice to her, but she hit him first. Loved the use of the five words she allotted him: "Out. For. A. Walk. ... Bitch." And "I never liked you anyway and... you have stupid hair!" What, he's regressed to being 12? It's so cute. I can't wait to see how all of that plays out. Poor Riley seems like a dead man walking at this point. Yikes.
A:tS 5: Dear Boy
[Darla attempts to drive Angel over the edge in hopes of getting him to embrace his dark side, but when Angel sees Darla in his waking life, Cordelia, Wesley and Gunn fear he has gone off the deep end and may revert to his evil ways.]
And now we see what W&H really want -- Angelus. I don't know whether to laugh or just be bewildered that they think they could control him even if they did get him. I wonder if we're headed that direction. That would set him back from his whole becoming human destiny quite a bit.
Poor Angel, going crazy from his dreams. I was really starting to wonder why he hadn't said anything, especially since it was becoming a serious problem. I figured he didn't want the dreams to stop. Of course, the moment he realized she was actually alive, he really went nuts. I guess you can't blame him. It's not every day that someone comes back from the dead, especially not someone who's incredibly dangerous.
Him sniffing Cordelia's hair was pretty funny, along with her yelling, "Personal bubble!" And the fact that he could just sniff Wesley and say, "You had sex with a bleached blonde last night." (I was quite tempted to leave off the "e" there...) And the singing? OMG, Wang Chung?
The revelation that they brought her back as a human was really interesting. And yet, she still remembers her life with him as a vampire -- and I'm even more confused about the whole soul thing. Anyway, it was interesting that even though she'd been playing games with him all this time, he was the one who did the mindfucking at the end. And ouch, he never really loved her -- she seemed to take that harder than she should have. I wonder if he's right, if she'll freak out about all the stuff she's done once she's had time to process it. She's apparently been around for a few months by now, though, so I'm not so sure.
I'm constantly impressed by Cordelia's and Wesley's loyalty to Angel, even when they think he may have gone bad. It's like they'll all stick together, no matter what. They'll kill him before they abandon him. I wonder if he knows how lucky he is to have them?
And yay for more flashbacks! And Drusilla! It's interesting that he made her a vampire just so she would suffer from her madness forever.
BtVS 6: Family
[Tara’s family makes a surprise visit to Sunnydale for her birthday, threatening to reveal a shocking secret that could endanger all of their lives.]
I was glad that Buffy told Giles about Dawn. That was a very good thing for her to do, because keeping a secret like that to yourself is just too much. It reminded me a bit of Angel confiding in Doyle the episode after IWRY that he'd become human and shared a day with Buffy. (And I'm still intrigued that Cordelia knows, and Angel doesn't know she knows. I really hope something comes of that at some point.)
Aw, poor Tara and her redneck family! It was good to finally know what the deal was with her, though. I got the feeling that maybe Joss had left that door open in case they'd decided they wanted her to really be a demon, and when they decided she wouldn't be one, they had to clean it up a bit. The whole "You're a demon and we're taking you away to lock you up for your own good" bit seemed also to be a metaphor for your family not accepting that you're gay. In fact, it's interesting to me that Tara's and Willow's relationship hasn't attracted any negative attention. I'm wondering if that's a conscious effort on the part of the writers to normalize it as much as possible (like a lot of us do in slashfic, you know - create a world where there is no homophobia for our characters to live in), or if it's something that will come up in the future.
Spike fantasizing about Buffy during sex was priceless, OMG! Especially the "I'm coming! I'm coming right now!" line, with a cut away to him actually coming. I'm shocked that made it past the censors! Not that I'm complaining or anything. I also like that the moment Spike realized Buffy was in danger, he ran over to help. At first I thought she might never see he was there at all because of Tara's spell, which would only cause another huge fight between them, but in the end, it worked out. No one seemed to blink that Spike was there, which I thought was funny. No one seemed to notice either that they'd had no trouble seeing Tara even while the spell was going, so she couldn't have been a demon. Of course, Spike hitting her to settle the dispute was a nice touch. And very sweet.
And of course, the moment where the whole gang stood up to Tara's family and claimed her as one of their own was lovely. They bicker amongst themselves, but they will turn into a solid wall against a common enemy, which I really love. Their loyalty to each other is part of their strength, I think. And once again, Spike shows that he's good at seeing through people's fronts and understanding what their real motivations are. He nailed exactly what Tara's dad was doing.
Riley getting hit on by a vampire was funny, especially since he knew what she was straight away. (Though I can't help but wonder what the point of that scene was. To show us how much he's trying to understand Buffy's world? Or are we being set up for something else?) I also liked the line early on where Buffy said, "This means I owe you a big favor. There may be outfits.", and he looked like Christmas morning. I'm going to miss him. I really like him, and he's about as normal and stable a boyfriend as Buffy is ever going to get. And I'm worried that it will end very badly. It really seems to be ending; it's just a question of how much longer he'll last.
Willow and Tara at the end were so sweet. Will we ever get to see them kiss? How idiotic is it that we can see Spike having an orgasm but not see Tara and Willow kiss, because "ew, lesbians"? That is seriously fucked up.
And when I say fucked up, I mean that I would like to see both of those things onscreen, and not neither. Thank you.
A:tS 6: Guise Will Be Guise
[Angel meets with a Swami in hopes of ending his obsession with Darla. Meanwhile, Wesley assumes Angel's identity and plays bodyguard to a wealthy businessman's daughter.]
Fun episode! I feel like I say that a lot about this show, but it's really true. I just adore the dynamic between Angel, Wesley, and Cordelia. I particularly like Angel and Cordelia together. She's the only one who is completely unafraid to stand up to him and tell him he's being an idiot. And when she's too stubborn to back down, he gives in. She always wins in those situations, and it's great!
The scene in the karaoke bar was the first time I was really worried about Angel, though. I mean, he's been having a rough time for a while, but his confession to Lorne was startlingly candid. He's not that honest with Cordelia or Wesley -- though I think he would have been with Doyle. *sigh*
Angel: "I don't have to sing."
Cordelia: "Oh, thank god! I mean... good for you cause... you don't like doing it."
The interaction between Angel and the fake swami was interesting. First of all, is LA anywhere near a frickin' swamp? Where the hell was that supposed to be, the Blue Bayou at Disneyland? But besides that, even though the guy was faking he really said a lot of things that made sense. It was funny that he picked on Angel's vanity, with the car, the clothes, and the hair -- "Of course, when you're fighting the ultimate evil, you'll want [hair gel] with some hold." But he was right that Angel projects a particular image in an attempt to cover what's happening on the inside -- that battle with the demon. His advice that Angel should accept that it's part of him and move on was actually very sound.
The advice he gave Angel for getting over Darla was funny: "So here's what you do. You go out and find yourself some small blonde thing. You bed her. You love her. Then you treat her like crap and you break her heart. Believe me, your inner demon will be thanking me." Angel's look of embarrassed horror was actually pretty funny. I also liked the fake swami saying, "You're deeply ambivalent", and Angel replying, "I am, and I'm not."
And wow, Wesley posing as Angel was a lot of fun! I hoped when it got rolling that he would gain some strength from it, and it seems like that happened. And of course, the fact that he wasn't really Angel allowed him to help the daughter in a way Angel never could have, by really being there for her. Angel is a lot of great things, but a wonderful listener and confidant he is not. The bit at the end when the demon rejected her for not being a virgin was funny. And of course it wasn't Wesley who'd deflowered her, but still.
Poor Angel -- does everyone know about the curse and how it gets broken? That can't be a good thing, for his pride if nothing else. His saying "I'm not a eunuch!" four times in the middle of a battle was funny, but sort of sad really. For a guy with vanity issues, that's a harsh thing to hear.
Themes in both shows: I probably should have done this before, but I didn't think about it until the other day. I'm hoping that looking for common themes will help me understand more about what's happening on both shows.
Episode 1: Both Buffy and Angel seemed to be a bit out of control at the beginning, careening toward their respective destinies. Something needed to happen to set them back on track, and in both cases, it was something dramatic and involved a power bigger than either of them, not just ordinary demons. And between the pregnant woman Angel was protecting and Dawn (whom Buffy is to protect) the theme of protecting the innocent and of birth seems to be big.
Episode 2: Probably the only real connection I saw between these episodes was the change of locale. The cast will be getting a new place to hang out in both shows, and we got our first glimpse of those places in these episodes. Oh, and also that in both, there was an attempt to tell a story about the main character from another point of view. So we saw Buffy and the gang from Dawn's POV (narrated by her diary entires) and we saw another incarnation of Angel narrated by the story that Wesley and Cordelia constructed.
Episode 3: It may be a bit of a stretch, but the commonality here seemed to be about characters being torn in two directions, distilling them down to some of their basic needs -- Xander literally and Angel figuratively. And while Xander's problem was resolved, Angel's wasn't.
Episode 4: I saw a lot of similarity between Riley's and Bethany's struggles to deal with what was wrong with them. Both had been violated by people (parent figures) they trusted, and both of them had the bad guys trying to bring them into the fold. They were both struggling against that to the point of endangering themselves. Both of them also seemed desperate to feel loved (even though Riley's desperation was largely imagined), and both of them dealt with it by striking out at the main character.
Episode 5: The theme here seemed to be revelations. Buffy finds out that Dawn isn't really her sister and Angel finds out that Darla is more than just a figment of his imagination. And both Dawn and Darla are just humans, though humans who signify quite a lot and have a power neither Buffy nor Angel possesses. And I thought it was funny that Glory and Darla both were blonde and wearing slinky red dresses. That couldn't have been an accident.
Episode 6: Characters in both shows were having to face some sort of truth about themselves. For Angel and Tara, it was dealing with the fact that an integral part of themselves is/might be evil, and being uncertain how that would affect everyone around them. For Wesley and Riley (and possibly Spike) it was about struggling to become something new, to get past old failures and difficulties and push forward, become stronger.