Angel: Buffy, please. Just this once… let me be strong.
Buffy: Strong is fighting! It’s hard, and it’s painful, and it’s every day. It’s what we have to do. And we can do it together. But if you’re too much of a coward for that, then burn. If I can’t convince you that you belong in this world, then I don’t know what can. But do not expect me to watch. And don’t expect me to mourn for you, because…
Huh? Buffy? Christmas? Has the Conservative New Ager gone more insane than usual?
This episode was called “one of the most explicitly religious hours of television ever aired” by the entertainment editor of The Weekly Standard…so clearly I’m not the only Conservative who thinks this.
(There is a fascinating lack of YouTube clips to choose from so I will quote liberally here).
But why is it a Christmas story. Well, for starters it takes place on Christmas Eve. But a lot of TV shows have their cheesy, shallow, lip service Christmas episode…why does this one stand out. Well first of all because, like most Buffy episodes it’s not cheesy or shallow.
Shallow doesn’t usually include lines like:
Look, I’m weak. I’ve never been anything else. It’s not the demon in me that needs killing, Buffy. It’s the man. […]Am I a thing worth saving, huh? Am I a righteous man? The world wants me gone!
Buffy: What about me? I love you so much… And I tried to make you go away… I killed you and it didn’t help. And I hate it! I hate that it’s so hard… and that you can hurt me so much. I know everything that you did, because you did it to me. Oh, God! I wish that I wished you dead. I don’t. I can’t.
Angel, the vampire with a soul, taunted by a tarted up version of Satan, is tempted to lose his soul…Angel instead tries to kill himself by waiting for the sun on Christmas morning. Convinced the world is a better place without someone as flawed as him. The words of his beloved Buffy cannot convince him otherwise…and that’s where that quote I put at the beginning of this blog picks up. Because, in what may be the only sign in the Buffy universe that there is a benevolent God, a Christmas miracle occurs. A freak snowstorm blotting out the sun in a California beach town that had only been in the high 70’s the day before.
Why is this a Christmas story? Because the Christmas story is one about how each of us is worthy of redemption and can make amends. It’s a message that there is good in all of us, even when we ourselves might not see the good. And it is a story about the fact that God wants us to find that good in ourselves because he definitely believes in us. And that is shown in this episode which is probably the best episode (top 5 at bare minimum) of this wonderful TV show.