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Buffy and company get a very memorable lesson in being careful what you wish for when they realize that their parents thinking more like them is a lot better in theory than in practice.

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The Anya of Season 3 would never have been self-aware or compassionate enough to make any of the choices she does here, and it’s evidence of her growth.

It was a serious gut punch when Halfrek was killed and it reminded us that, despite his disarming affability and charm, D’Hoffryn is one cold, evil motherfucker.

Aside from drama of exposing Faith, you have the whole “how deep undercover is too deep” thing going on with Angel, topped off with the revelation of Buffy and Giles’ cunning and the true drawing of battle lines. It’ll come as a shock to some people that this episode falls so far down the list, and I can see why. Once you know how it ends, it’s still a solid episode, but a lot of the air goes out of that balloon.

The Anointed One, despite being built up for most of the season and technically fulfilling his function, doesn’t really do much to justify his existence or the importance placed on him by the narrative, and Buffy’s final fight with the Master is not particularly memorable.

As if all that weren’t enough, we get the introduction of the arrogant douchebaggery of Watchers Council and the open acknowledgement that Giles has essentially become Buffy’s father figure and loves her as such.

His entire life is pulled out from under him, and the first thing he does is take care of her. The true value of this episode is in all the little things.The teary vulnerability of her question, “What if I’m really nobody? As does, of course, a flashback to the musical episode, complete with a brand new song. While I often find the trickster archetype grating for a number of reasons (which, to be fair, is more my issue than anything), I can’t deny that it is really fun and satisfying when the good guys get sneaky and take a break from playing fair and acting honorably to, well, be more effective. How do you improve upon an episode that’s all about Faith playing the Scoobies?Reveal that they were playing her the whole damn time. It managed to fulfill the prophecy of Buffy’s death while still subverting it with the use of CPR, and it sets up some key elements like the activation of a second Slayer that would play out over the course of the series. Much of the episode’s impact derives from the tension of not knowing where it’s going or how Buffy and the others will possibly make it out of this one.While not a particularly strong episode next to many of the other classics, “Angel” deserves plenty of respect for setting in motion a lot of elements that would factor heavily into the rest of the series.It’s the episode where the show really found its voice and the standard to which the rest of the first season was held, so credit where credit is due.Spike’s pathetic lamenting throughout the episode is both so relatable in its generalities and absurd in its specifics that it stands out as some of the best comedy in the show’s entire run. ” Joyce making Spike a cup of cocoa and lending him a sympathetic ear continued the thread of one of the most enjoyable relationships in the series, and Spike’s “love’s bitch” speech has become a favorite amongst die-hard romantics.