Revisiting ANGEL - I Will Remember You - Warped Factor - Words in the Key of Geek.

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Revisiting ANGEL - I Will Remember You

Shane King continues his in-depth look back at key episodes of Angel. This time it's the turn of the eighth episode from season 1, I Will Remember You.

Can my review of this episode just be a drawing of a broken heart and a piece of paper saying “Don’t wanna! Don’t wanna!” in yellow crayon? UGH. I literally pouted at my screen at the prospect of re-living this episode again. After two relatively mediocre “Angel” episodes (“Sense & Sensitivity” and “The Bachelor Party”), “I Will Remember You” delivers what is easily the greatest episode of “Angel” thus far. None of the other seven can compare to it. Ironically, the best episode of “Angel” thus far is an episode that is entirely about a relationship and events that took place in Sunnydale on “Buffy The Vampire Slayer”.

Even though it’s absolutely gut-wrenching, this is my favourite episode of either show in relation to ‘Bangel’ (Buffy and Angel’s romantic relationship). What “I Will Remember You” does is expose what they would have been like as a couple without the added drama of Angel being a vampire and having a gypsy curse. They can have sex. They can go into the daylight together. They can eat together. In doing so,
 they’re fudging adorable! I’m of the opinion that Buffy has never had a good, healthy relationship. Perhaps it’s because she’s the Slayer, perhaps it’s because she’s primarily dated vampires...whatever the reason, all of Buffy’s relationships have had major flaws. Angel and Buffy could never be a real couple (this episode aside) and they were so full of angst. Riley and Buffy in season four of “Buffy The Vampire Slayer” was Buffy’s most stable, healthy relationship, but ultimately Riley was too insecure over having a girlfriend that didn’t need him or rely on, Buffy was never in love with him. Buffy and Spike worked wonderfully together as friends in season five and they were a very enjoyable couple in season seven, but season six was downright unhealthy and disturbing, so I can’t get into them as a couple too much either. With that being said, I like and appreciate all three of Buffy’s major relationships. However, I don’t think that Buffy ever loved someone as much as she loved Angel, which is what makes this episode work. Even though Buffy and Angel had vast flaws as a couple, they had a deep love for one another that was unparalleled by anyone else in their lives. Even after becoming human in this episode, some of the reasons why Angel broke up with Buffy in the first place are still present. These reasons ultimately lead Angel to make his greatest sacrifice. Everything that was wonderful about their relationship and everything that was negative about their relationship is explored in just 42 minutes.

The episode opens with Angel winding a clock. It’s a beautifully poetic, disturbing start to an episode that is all about time and the eventual rewinding of time. Damn, this episode is perfectly written and acted, isn’t it? You know what also sucks about this episode? It’s the last complete episode where Doyle is alive. I CANNOT HANDLE ALL THESE FEELS. I swear, after “I Will Remember You” and “Hero”, I’m going to be an emotional pile of snot and tears on the floor of my bedroom, rocking gently and telling myself that at least Wesley will be arriving in “Parting Gifts”.

For anyone that watches “Angel”, but doesn’t watch “Buffy The Vampire Slayer”, this episode is part two of a story that began in the last “Buffy The Vampire Slayer” episode,
 “Pangs”. If you remember, Doyle had a vision at the end of the last “Angel” episode (“The Bachelor Party”) where he saw Buffy is danger. This prompted Angel to skulk back to Sunnydale and keep an eye on Buffy without her knowledge. Xander accidentally let it slip to Buffy (in comical fashion) that Angel was watching her and now Buffy has travelled to Los Angeles to confront Angel. Buffy says that she was in Los Angeles visiting her father, which I maintain was a lie. She hasn’t seen her father on-camera or off-camera in over two years. The last time he was seen on the show, he was telling Joyce that he can’t relate to Buffy anymore and doesn’t know what to say. I think Buffy was using her father as an excuse for why she cared enough that Angel was in Sunnydale without telling her to travel all the way to Los Angeles to confront him. This is actually Buffy’s third trip to the City of Angels. She first went to Los Angeles during the summer break between “Buffy The Vampire Slayer” season one and two, as she was spending the summer with her father. The second time was one year later, when Buffy ran away to Los Angeles after having to kill a newly re-ensoulled Angel.

I’ve always wondered something...for people that have watched “Angel”, but have never seen “Buffy The Vampire Slayer”, what did they think of Buffy Summers? Buffy is only on “Angel” twice and both times she’s rather bitchy. Don’t get me wrong, she’s justified in her anger and bitchiness both times, but without seeing “Buffy The Vampire Slayer”, the audience wouldn’t be aware of all of the details and might just think that Buffy is a whiny cow.

Buffy being in the headquarters of Angel Investigations feels odd, but kinda nice. It leads to an extremely awkward reunion between Buffy and Cordelia (what is with all the awkwardness between Cordelia and the Scoobies?! The same thing happened when Oz came to visit), plus Buffy gets to meet Doyle. I’m so glad that Buffy, Oz, and Spike got to meet Doyle. Even though he’s only around for nine episodes, he’s such an important part of the show and he plays a vital role in the development of Angel and Cordelia. Buffy and Angel have a conversation about Angel politely stalking her in Sunnydale. I can understand Buffy’s annoyances. Even though Angel felt like he was doing the right thing, Buffy deserved to know he was there. She’s not a helpless damsel in distress, she’s the Slayer! What is best for Buffy is not Angel’s decision (which I will rant about a little later on). Buffy tells Angel that they shouldn’t see each other anymore because it’s too hard and that Angel was right to leave Sunnydale and give them both a chance at a new start.

Buffy: “Given enough time we should be able to...”
Angel: “Forget.”

Foreshadowing! Foreshadowing alert! Get out now!

A Mohra demon attacks, Cordelia assumes that it’s just Buffy and Angel fighting out their differences, the Mohra demon’s blood mixes with Angel’s blood, the Mohra demon escapes, and Angel is human! ANGEL IS HUMAN! I won’t deny the fact that Angel is arguably my favourite Buffyverse character. I have a lot of love for Spike, Willow, Wesley, Lorne, and some other characters as well, but Angel might just top the list. For four years we’ve watched Angel brooding in misery over the crimes he committed as Angelus. We’ve watched him fight for redemption, keep fighting, and keep fighting again. He’s finally rewarded for all his sacrifices by being made human. I was so happy for Angel when I first saw this episode! I couldn’t contain my excitement! Of course, I was young and naive. Angel was smiling, Cordy was smiling, Doyle was smiling, and Buffy was smiling. We can’t have characters in the Whedonverse being happy! No, no, no! That would be against Joss’ code of conduct! I didn’t see the writing on the wall that it couldn’t last...

Angel: “I have a mortal body, and....I am so....

The scene where Angel is eating everything in sight is one of my most beloved, personally. I’ve never seen Angel so happy and excited before. Having his humanity back seems to temporarily wipe away all his guilt and broodiness.
 He’s so carefree! Again, I didn’t see the writing on the wall that all of this excitement and love of his humanity is building up his sacrifice at the end of the episode for the greater good even more.

To ensure that his restored humanity isn’t a trick or temporary, Doyle takes Angel to visit the Oracles, whom I adore. I wish they were around for longer. They have a unique look (the glorious blue and gold), they add a new dimension to the show, and they’re interesting. Angel presents the Oracles with the gift of time...ugh, I should have noticed that time keeps popping up repeatedly. Curse you, brain!

But let’s get real here. This episode works because of the restoration of Buffy and Angel’s relationship and the destruction of Buffy and Angel’s relationship once and for all. There are two scenes that make me overwhelmed with joy. The first is when Angel asks Buffy to meet him outside in the daylight. He steps out of the shadows into the sunlight and kisses her. Sarah Michelle Gellar’s facial acting during this scene was
 perfect. The look on Buffy’s face as Angel walked into the light was heart-warming to the point of watery eyes. No matter how depressing the end of this episode is, no matter how depressing their breakup in “The Prom” is, you can never take the scene where Angel and Buffy are kissing in the sunlight away from me, and you can never take it away from Buffy and Angel...unless you rewind time so that Buffy doesn’t remember it. CURSE YOU, WHEDON! 

The second scene that makes me giddy with happiness is when Angel is running across his apartment naked (no, not because Angel is naked!...okay, maybe a little bit...) with armfuls of food, dives into bed with Buffy, and they eat food off of each other. It’s also greatly implied that they’ve been having sex. Buffy and Angel are having their perfect day together. If only it could have lasted longer than a day...

Doyle: “Don’t you want to wake the girl?”
Angel: “Not for the world.”

The Mohra demon is still alive. Angel and Doyle sneak away to hunt and kill it. After the Mohra demon nearly kills Angel, Angel realises that him being human is a bad idea. It’ll put Buffy in danger (as she’ll constantly have to worry about him and try to protect him during fights), it’ll put him friends in danger, and it will mean that Angel can’t help the helpless anymore. Angel can’t live with his humanity if it means that other people will suffer and die as a result. He visits the Oracles again and asks them to rewind the day so that it never happened. To ensure that the same thing doesn’t happen again, Angel alone will live with the knowledge of the past 24 hours. It’s the burden he must bear for rewinding time.

I’m in two minds about Angel’s decision to become a vampire again. On the one hand, the Oracles told Angel that “a great darkness is coming” and Buffy and himself will be needed in the fight. If Angel is human, he can’t fight very well. He can’t save people. He can’t stop what is coming.
 Just look at this episode! Buffy was almost killed by the Mohra demon trying to protect Angel. If Angel decided to remain human and stayed with Buffy, how long would it be before one or both of them is killed? More importantly than that, who’s going to protect the people of Los Angeles if he’s unable to? Who’s going to help the helpless? Angel is sacrificing his biggest two dreams for the greater good. He’s giving up his humanity and he’s giving up a life with Buffy. It’s the moment when Angel truly becomes a hero. He makes the ultimate selfless sacrifice in order to continue his mission statement. Even deeper than that, I think that Angel feels he needs to earn his humanity. He wants to make amends for all the people he’s killed and all the heinous acts he’s committed before he feels he’s worthy of becoming human. On the other hand, damn it, Angel! You’ve been human for half a day!Take some damn time thinking about it before you give up on your two biggest dreams! I happen to agree with Angel’s decision ultimately, but who’s to say that Angel made the right decision? Was he able to have it all? Much more importantly, Angel should have discussed his decision with Buffy before acting on it. He’s not just rewinding a day of his own life, he’s rewinding the happiest day of Buffy’s life too! She’s going to forget her perfect day with Angel and she had no say in the decision! Angel decided what is best for Buffy, himself, and the world before taking to anyone about it! Before time is rewound, Buffy agrees with Angel’s decision, but it doesn’t make it hurt any less. Buffy’s gone through such a range of emotions in this episode....hurt, anger, annoyance, joyous, exhilarated, desire, depression, sadness, and heartache...and it’s all taken away from her.

Then we arrive at the best scene of “Angel” thus far. A scene that reduces me to manly tears whenever I watch it. The scene where time is about to be rewound. Sarah and David are flawless in this scene. I’ve never seen better acting from either of them up to this point. They were both so invested in the scene that after they’d finished filming, the crew had to close the set for a while so Sarah could recuperate and stop crying about what Buffy and Angel had just been through. Also, if you listen closely, you can hear David call Buffy “Sarah” once instead of calling her “Buffy”. It’s amazing to know just how invested they both were in that scene. For those few minutes Sarah was Buffy and David was Angel. They both felt the full weight of Angel’s decision. In turn, because they felt it, the audience felt it. Oh, also, screw you, David Greenwalt and Joss Whedon! You just had to play the ‘Bangel’ love theme during this scene, didn’t you? You weren’t content with giving us a perfect day, only to take it away. You weren’t content with heartbreaking us over Angel having to live alone with the burden of that day. You weren’t content with just giving us the heartbreaking scene where time is about to be rewound. No! You had to play the love theme as well! How I haven’t developed a complex where I burst into tears whenever that theme is played is beyond me.

Time being rewound allows Buffy to return to Sunnydale and start a new relationship with Riley. She doesn’t remember her perfect day with Angel, so in her mind she’s been single for a long time. Angel, on the other hand, has to live with what he’s done. He returns to the darkness that’s been plaguing him for decades.

To conclude, this episode is damn near perfect. The
 only thing I dislike is Angel’s decision to not talk to Buffy before rewinding time. Everything else is flawless. Every scene is important, every moment is a part of the story, and it all culminates perfectly. It’s filled with significant moments, it gives us some closure on Buffy and Angel’s relationship, and it gives us a huge dollop of character development and renewed focus for our lead character, Angel. You can’t ask for more than that in one episode.

Ending on a happier note...

Cordelia: “I’m good for exactly two things: international superstardom or helping a vampire with a soul to rid the world of evil. That makes for a short, but colourful résumé.”

Quote Of The Episode

Buffy:  "A minute?  No.  No, it's not enough time!"

Angel:  "We don't have a choice.  It's done."

Buffy:  "How am I supposed to go on with my life, knowing what we had?  What we could have had?"

Angel:  "You won't.  No one will know but me."

Buffy:  "Everything we did..."

Angel:  "It never happened."

Buffy:  "It did.  It did!  I know it did! I felt your heart beat."

Angel:  "Buffy..."

Buffy:  "No!  Oh, God.  It's not enough time."

Angel: "Shh, please.  Please. Please, please."

Buffy:  "No.  I'll never forget.  I'll never forget.  I'll never forget.  I'll never forget." 

*she forgets*


Shane ‘Shangel’ King is a blogger from England, where he spends most of his time reviewing television shows, attending conventions, and fanboying professionally. He’s currently reviewing every episode of “Buffy The Vampire Slayer” and “Angel” in-depth on his blog, and will soon be covering “Firefly”, “Game Of Thrones”, “The Walking Dead”, “Chuck”, “Doctor Who”, and more in equal depth! You can also follow Shangel on Twitter.

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