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'Buffy the Vampire Slayer' recap: Surprises

Season 2 | Episode 13 | “Surprise” | Aired Jan 19, 1998 on The WB

I usually love surprises, but this glorious, heartbreaking, earth-shattering episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer makes me hate them way down deep in my core.

Buffy is dreaming. She wakes up from a dream within a dream, and walks from her bedroom into the Bronze, where she finds Willow with a monkey (a reference to her “animal crackers” dialogue with Oz in “What’s My Line, Part 2”) and Joyce, who asks, “Do you really think you’re ready, Buffy?” before sending a plate shattering to the floor. Drusilla has followed Buffy from the house, and wishes Buffy a happy birthday by stalking Angel.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 2 Episode 13 - Buffy dreams of Willow and a monkey








Buffy wakes up for real, shaken. She heads straight to Angel’s in the morning to make sure he’s all right. He tries to convince her the dream doesn’t mean anything … though she’s not so sure; the last time she dreamed about the Master, he killed her. But Angel is sure Drusilla is dead, and assures her they’ll take care of it if she’s not.

They passionately make out, and her worries disappear. She breaks away—time to go to school. Plus, he’s turning in for the morning anyway.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer - Buffy and Willow have the sex talk“I like seeing you at bedtime,” she tells him, a statement she and Willow dissect at school. They go back and forth about right and wrong, desire, and carpe diem. Buffy finally decides, with all the dual certainty and hesitation of a 17-year-old girl, that she and Angel are going to have sex.

This is almost as big a deal for Willow as it is for Buffy. The previous episode, “Bad Eggs,” was the first time anyone in the Scooby Gang discussed sex in a serious way (Xander’s childish jokes don’t count.) The should-we-or-shouldn’t-we back-and-forth typical of many high school romances has seemingly reached a point of inevitability, and Buffy is not only ready, but she’s so in love with Angel she can’t bear not to.

They walk past Oz, strumming on his guitar, and Buffy similarly encourages Willow to seize the day. Oz is happy to see her. They adorkably flirt, and he asks her out. She instead invites him to be her date at Buffy’s surprise party.

(That’s the second time in 10 minutes the word “surprise,” also the episode title, is connected to Buffy’s birthday. Earlier, Angel asked for gift ideas, and Buffy suggested he surprise her.)

Willow has got a date. Now it’s Xander’s turn. He sticks his neck out and asks Cordelia whether they should go together, because he’s tired of hiding their whatever this is from their friends. She explains that groping in a broom closet isn’t dating, and she’s embarrassed to tell anyone they’re hooking up.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer - Spike and Drusilla plan a partySpike is mending after battling the two Slayers. Drusilla, back to full strength and still quite angry, is planning a party. The way Juliet Landau plays Dru’s whiplash mood swings is even more entertaining now that she’s fully charged, and not Spike’s damsel in distress.

A man shows up in Jenny Calendar’s classroom with a vaguely Eastern European accent, wearing what looks like a Hogwarts sorting hat.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer - Jenny Calendar and her gypsy uncleIt turns out this man is her uncle, Jenny’s real name is Janna, and she’s in Sunnydale to watch Angel and maintain the family’s centuries-old gypsy curse. A tribal elder senses Angel’s pain lessening, but the family wants him to suffer for eternity, and since Buffy is what’s making him happy, Jenny/Janna must break them up.

(More surprises! I don’t think anyone saw this coming.)

Joyce is planning her own celebration, a mother-daughter shopping trip. Buffy is excited, and pleads her case about applying for a driver’s license, but stops cold when Joyce asks if she’s really ready and drops a dinner plate, just like Buffy’s dream.

Now that her nightmare is turning into reality, Buffy is the most bummed birthday girl since Lesley Gore. Giles figures that thanks to her dreams, they’re one step ahead of Drusilla.

He insists they carry on with the surprise party. There’s never a good time to relax on the Hellmouth, he reasons, so you might as well live it up while you can.

Jenny offers Buffy a ride to meet Giles—a lame cover for the party—but on the way, they encounter vampires stealing something from a truck. In the fight, Buffy crashes her own party, literally, when they fall through a window.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer - Cordelia wishes Buffy a happy birthday“Surprise!” Cordelia yells, characteristically at the wrong time. “That pretty much sums it up,” says Oz, who is just now learning about all this supernatural stuff, but seems unruffled.

Buffy is delighted. But then Jenny arrives with a box the vampires left behind. They carefully open it, and an arm reaches out and chokes Buffy!

Angel and Giles suspect they know what Drusilla is up to. They share the story of the Judge, a demon who can bring about Armegeddon. He can’t be killed, but back in the day, an army dismembered him and scattered the pieces.

Angel is the only one who can skip town for a few months and re-hide the limb. (Great suggestion, Jenny.) And he has to leave tonight. Buffy’s crushed.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer - Angel gives Buffy a Claddagh ring for her birthdayShe walks Angel to the docks to say goodbye, and he gives her a birthday present: a Claddagh ring. “Wear it with the heart pointed toward you,” he explains. “It means you belong to somebody.”


With a mascara-streaked face, she begs him to stay, but vampires interrupt their farewell, trying to steal back the box. Buffy ends up in the water, and Angel jumps in after her.

At school, Buffy changes into dry clothes and Giles catches her up. The Judge is one bad dude: His touch can burn the humanity out of anyone, and there’s no weapon to stop him. Their only hope is to keep Drusilla from assembling him.

The Scooby Gang stays up all night researching. Buffy falls asleep and winds up dreaming again, this time of Drusilla’s gala, of Ms. Calendar, and again, of Dru killing Angel.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer - The JudgeThere’s reason to worry. At their lair, Spike and Drusilla add the final piece, and the Judge stumbles to life.

Energized by her latest nightmare, Buffy springs into action, ordering everyone to work harder while she and Angel check out the factory. From the rafters, they spy the vampires enjoying blood punch and small talk, as well as the Judge, who senses Buffy and Angel’s presence.

They wind up face-to-face with the Judge, but they fight their way free and flee through the sewers, out into the pouring rain.

Angel brings Buffy back to his place to dry off and hide.

I couldn’t possibly do justice to the rest of this scene, so I now leave you in the capable hands of Marti Noxon.

TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

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