Written and directed by Joss Whedon

It’s Christmas in Dublin in 1838, and a man is walking down the street when he’s suddenly grabbed and pulled into an alley. Angelus greets him with the name Daniel and says he’s going to kill him since Daniel owes him money. “It’s Christmas!” Angelus says before biting him. Angel suddenly wakes up from his dream. In downtown Sunnydale (present day), a TV reporter mentions that the weather is un-Christmas-like and will continue to be so. Angel runs into Buffy and they have an awkward conversation, which is interrupted when Angel spots Daniel nearby. Buffy notices Angel’s reaction to something she can’t see and wonders what’s going on. At school the next day, she tells Willow and Xander what happened. Willow suggests that Buffy discuss it with Giles, but Buffy thinks that Giles is still too “twitchy” concerning Angel (see “Becoming, Part 2”). The Scoobies discuss Christmas plans, Willow taking offense to the assumption that she has Christmas plans, since she’s Jewish. Xander announces that he’s partaking in his annual tradition of sleeping outside, which, Cordelia interrupts to clarify, is because he doesn’t want to be around his family. Cordelia boasts that she’s going skiing in Aspen and escaping the warm weather. Oz approaches Willow and admits that he misses her (see “Lovers Walk”) and wants to give their relationship another try. Willow is thrilled and the two share a hug.

Buffy and Joyce go shopping for Christmas trees on a lot in Sunnydale. Joyce suggests that they invite Faith to join them on Christmas Eve, but Buffy isn’t quite onboard, since she and Faith aren’t very close following the events of (“Revelations.” She agrees to ask Faith anyway, then wonders if Giles would want to join them. Joyce, still jumpy following “Band Candy,” objects. The two split up and Buffy comes across a number of trees that the tree merchant says have mysteriously died. Angel has another dream, this one about eyeless figures chanting in a circle. Buffy stops by Faith’s hotel room and invites her to spend Christmas Eve with her and Joyce. Faith declines the offer, stating that she’s going to a party that night. Giles is surprised when Angel pays him a visit, and even more surprised (and slightly amused) when Angel apologizes for bothering him. Angel asks for Giles’ help, and Giles replies with a Xander-esque, “And the funny keeps on coming.” He heads down the hall and Angel reminds him that he has to be invited in order to enter Giles’ apartment. Giles returns with a crossbow and replies that he knows. He invites Angel inside, making sure to keep the crossbow trained on him. Angel tells him about the dreams he’s been having, saying that they’re more vivid than ones he’s had before. He wants to know why he returned from Hell (see “Faith, Hope, and Trick”), thinking that knowing the answer might make him feel peace. He suddenly sees Jenny (last seen for real in “Passion”) and, though Giles can’t see her, she pretends to touch him. Angel panics and leaves. That night, he has another dream, this time of a party back in Dublin. He talks to a maid named Margaret, bullying her into staying with him. He kills her, then looks up to see Buffy. Angel wakes up as Buffy wakes up in her bedroom, having had the same dream.

In the main room of the mansion, Angel sees Jenny again. He tries to convince himself that she’s not really there, but she tells him that she’s always there. He says that he’s sorry, but she reminds him that she’s dead - “I’m over it.” She replies that he should feel sorry for himself instead, then turns into Daniel. “I just want to show you who you are,” he tells Angel. In the library, Buffy tells Giles that she dreamed about Angel’s past and that she thinks something is wrong with him. Giles tells her that Angel came to see him and wants to know why he returned from Hell. Buffy volunteers to help him research, thinking that sharing dreams isn’t helping them stay apart. Xander announces his presence and offers to help as well, stating that he must be full of “Hanukkah spirit.” Buffy asks Xander if he’s sure he wants to spend his vacation doing research to help someone he doesn’t even like, and Xander replies that he has nothing else to do. “Who else can claim that pathetic a social life?” he asks as Willow enters and asks what’s going on. Time passes, subjects are discussed, pizza is eaten, and not much is learned. Willow tells Buffy that Oz is going to come over on Christmas Eve to watch movies, which she’s happy about, though she’s nervous that he still doesn’t trust her.

Angel is visited by a businessman whose family he killed, but the businessman doesn’t stay long before turning into Margaret, then Daniel, then Jenny. Angel grows frustrated with being forced to confront his past, and he tries to explain that the creature that did all of the killing wasn’t really him. Jenny turns into Margaret, who reminds him that he wasn’t much of a man when he was human. She turns back into Jenny, who says, “Cruelty’s the only thing you ever had a true talent for.” She tells him that his curse is his destiny and offers to show him what she means. Giles continues researching in the library while the Scoobies doze. Buffy and Angel share a dream in which they become quite friendly and are paid a visit by one of the eyeless chanters from Angel’s earlier dream. Angel grabs Buffy, vamps out, and bites her. Angel wakes up to find Jenny by his bed. She encourages him to give in to temptation and take what he wants from Buffy. “This is why we brought you back,” she says. “Take her! And then you’ll be ready…to kill her.”

Giles finds information about an entity called the First Evil, which is older than humans and demons and would have the power to bring Angel back from Hell. (For more fun with the First Evil, see all of season 7. Warning: watch at your own risk. I’m not responsible for headaches or bouts of screaming that may result from viewing S7 episodes.) Giles explains that the eyeless guys are called Harbingers or Bringers and are the First Evil’s “high priests.” They can “conjure spirit manifestations” and use them to haunt and influence people. However, the First isn’t corporeal, and therefore can’t be fought physically. Buffy notes that she can fight the Bringers, if they can only find them. Buffy and Xander head to Willy’s Bar (last visited in “What’s My Line, Part 2”) to try to get information out of him, but he’s not very forthcoming. He does tell them that something is scaring creatures from underground. Outside, Buffy laments the fact that “underground” doesn’t really narrow things down. Xander tries to convince her to enjoy Christmas and worry about the First later.

Oz goes over to Willow’s house and is surprised to see that she’s planned a romantic evening for the two of them, complete with Barry White music and a fire in the fireplace. She nervously tries to tell him that she’s ready for them to have sex, but he tells her that he’s not ready. He says that he wants them both to want it for the same reason, not to prove anything to each other. Willow is pleased that he at least understands what she’s trying to say. Buffy and Joyce decorate their Christmas tree, though they’re finding it harder to get into the Christmas spirit without cold weather. Faith arrives at the house with gifts, admitting that she didn’t have plans in the first place. Buffy goes upstairs to get her presents and finds Angel waiting for her. The First Evil appears behind Buffy as Jenny and encourages Angel to get on with things. Angel instead tells Buffy that she has to stay away from him. She notes that something is happening to him and tells him to fight whatever’s trying to control him. “She wants you to taste her,” First!Jenny tells him. “Think of the peace. You’ll never have to see us again.” Rather than let Buffy try to help him, Angel skedaddles. Buffy heads downstairs and asks Faith to stay with Joyce while she goes out. Buffy heads to Giles’ and asks him to find out where the Bringers are so that she can fight something. She tells him that she’s afraid she’s losing Angel and he says that, if things turn bad, she might have to kill him again. Back at the mansion, Angel tells First!Jenny that he can’t hurt Buffy. She replies that, as long as he’s alive, he’s meant to hurt her. He decides that he’ll just have to kill himself instead. She doubts that he has the strength to kill himself, but he tells her that he just has to wait for the sun to rise. First!Jenny decides that this is an acceptable substitution for Buffy’s death.

Giles finds information on the Bringers stating that “nothing shall grow above or below them.” Buffy heads to the Christmas tree lot and uses an axe to dig a hole under the dead trees. She goes through the hole and finds herself in a cave where the Bringers are chanting. She starts to fight them and is soon joined by First!Jenny, who she can now see. Buffy tells her that she won’t get Angel, but First!Jenny reminds her that she’s not a demon and can’t be fought. She tells Buffy that Angel will be dead by sunrise, then turns into some sort of beast and disappears. Buffy runs around looking for Angel and eventually finds him on a hill overlooking the town. She tries to convince him to get inside before the sun rises, but he says that the First showed him what he’s meant to do. He doesn’t want to become a killer again, but he’s not strong enough to fight what the First is trying to get him to do. “I want to take comfort in you, and I know it’ll cost me my soul, and a part of me doesn't care,” he tells her. Buffy says that everyone is weak, but he has the power to do good and “make amends. But if you die now, then all that you ever were was a monster.” The sun begins to rise and Angel tells Buffy to leave, but she refuses. He tries to get her away from him but she hits him, which makes him fight back. He realizes that he’s hurt her and asks if she really thinks he’s worth saving. “The world wants me gone!” he tells her. “What about me?” she asks. “I love you so much. And I tried to make you go away…I killed you and it didn’t help.” She says that she knows everything he’s done because he did it to her.

Buffy begins to cry as she tells Angel that she can’t wish him dead, as much as she wants to, and she wants him to be strong and fight. “It’s hard, and it’s painful, and it’s every day,” she tells him. “It’s what we have to do. And we can do it together.” She tells him that if he wants to be a coward and kill himself, he can, but she won’t stick around to watch. Before either of them can make a move, however, it begins to snow. Joyce, Faith, Willow, Oz, Giles, and Xander all notice the snow from various places in Sunnydale, enjoying the sudden miracle. Downtown, a TV weatherman reports that the cold front is sticking around and the sun won’t be seen all day. Saved by miracle snow, Buffy and Angel walk down the street, apparently choosing not to worry about the First Evil again for four more years.


GRADE: C Miracle snow! Come on!


MEMORABLE QUOTES - Buffy: “What are you doing for Christmas?”
Willow: “Being Jewish. Remember, people? Not everybody worships Santa.”

Willy: “Couple of drinks?”
Xander: “Yeah. Let me get a double shot of, um…of information, pal.”

Willy: “Doesn’t ring a bell.”
Xander: “How about I ring that bell for you? (to Buffy) Does the threatening come now?”
Buffy: “Maybe you shouldn’t help.”

Willy: “You did great, by the way. I was very intimidated by you.”
Xander: “Really? Thanks!”

Buffy: “Nothing like a roaring fire to keep away the blistering heat.”
Joyce: “Oh, come on. It’s lovely. Maybe I should turn the air conditioning on.”

First!Jenny: “You think you can fight me? I’m not a demon, little girl. I am something that you can’t even conceive. The First Evil. Beyond sin, beyond death. I am the thing the darkness fears. You’ll never see me, but I am everywhere. Every being, every thought, every drop of hate.”
Buffy: “All right, I get it. You’re evil. Do we have to chat about it all day?”

First!Jenny: “You have no idea what you’re dealing with.”
Buffy: “Lemme guess. Is it…evil?”

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