Innocence (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)

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Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode
Buffy Summers prepares to fight The Judge.
Episode no. Season 2
Episode 14
Directed by Joss Whedon
Written by Joss Whedon
Production code 5V14
Original air date January 20, 1998
Guest appearance(s)
Episode chronology
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List of Buffy the Vampire Slayer episodes

"Innocence" is episode 14 of season two of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. This is renowned not only as one of the most critically acclaimed episodes, but also has the distinction of being the highest rated episode in the series' history, attracting 8.2 million viewers as the series moved from its Monday timeslot to Tuesday.

Plot synopsis[edit]

After making love with Buffy earlier that night, Angel escapes into the alley with a piercing pain in his heart, as his soul is ripped from him. When a kind streetwalker tries to help him a few minutes later, he quickly and gleefully kills her. When he shows up at the factory, Spike is surprised and Drusilla is pleased that the Judge cannot burn him—Angel has truly reverted to the evil Angelus. The three are clearly pleased to be together again - grinning and gleeful, Angelus kisses Spike on the forehead in the only friendly moment seen between them this season, while Drusilla claps. Angel then vows to destroy Buffy for "making him feel human."

While researching a way to defeat the Judge, a demon whom "no weapon forged" can harm, Xander and Cordelia get caught kissing in the library by a crushed and furious Willow. Buffy finally finds Angel in his apartment, not knowing that he is now Angelus, and he blows her off, laughing at her feelings as she weeps. Jenny is castigated by her Uncle Enios, who tells her that if Angel has one moment of true happiness, one moment where his soul no longer plagues his thoughts, that his new soul would be taken from him. Angelus terrorizes Buffy and the Gang at school, emotionally shattering Buffy. Later, as they discuss Angel's transformation in the library, Buffy realises that having sex with Angel is what's caused him to turn evil and leaves in distress, returns home and, heartbroken, cries.

Buffy has another dream in which Angel helps her realise that Jenny knows more than she's letting on. The next morning she confronts Jenny at school, who admits she is a member of the Clan Kalderash that cursed Angelus with his soul so long ago, and that if Angel ever felt a moment of true happiness, he would lose his soul (revealing to Giles that Buffy and Angel made love). When Buffy, Jenny, and Giles arrive at the home of Jenny's uncle Enyos, they find that Angelus has brutally killed him, leaving Buffy a message written in blood on the wall - "Was It Good For You Too?", forcing Buffy to realize that she has to kill Angelus.

Xander hatches a plan using memories from being a soldier on Halloween, pretending that he is a private in the army and he is sneaking around with Cordelia. Oz declines to kiss Willow at her request, given that it's obvious she only wants to kiss to make Xander jealous. Willow's respect and feelings for Oz grow. The four return to the library with their "present" for Buffy. Jenny offers to help in the confrontation with the Judge, but Buffy refuses to accept her offer.

Tracking down the Judge at the crowded mall, Buffy and her team blow him to bits with her new "present" – a rocket launcher, while Angelus and Drusilla narrowly escape the blast. The Slayer stalks Angelus through the fleeing crowd and, when he ambushes her in a snack shop, they battle ferociously under the drenching fire-control sprinklers. Reaching a stand-off, neither of them is quite ready to kill the other, although Buffy does settle for kicking Angelus in the crotch. Giles drives Buffy home and she feels awful for putting her friends in serious danger from Angelus. Giles assures her that, although she did act irresponsibly, it is obvious that she and Angel loved each other and that he hasn't lost his trust in and respect for her. Later, Buffy and Joyce sit down to watch Stowaway. Joyce asks Buffy what she did for her birthday, and Buffy simply answers that she got older. Joyce lights the candle and tells Buffy to make a wish, but Buffy merely decides to let it burn.


In the commentary, when Joss Whedon is asked about his decision to turn Angel evil, he said that he feels it was necessary to keep the story fresh as viewers would quickly become bored with Angel and Buffy's relationship. Although the fan base wanted Buffy and Angel to be together romantically, Whedon says, "What people want is not what they need."[1]

In the DVD commentary, Whedon says the interaction between Buffy and Angel following their night of passion was supposed to have taken place outside of Buffy's house. However, he comments that the scene was simply not working as it was lacking intimacy and was thus later shot in Angel's house.

Arc significance[edit]

  • The Big Bad for season two, Angelus, has finally appeared.
  • Jenny's past and ulterior motives for being in Sunnydale are revealed.
  • This is the first instance where Xander reveals he has retained military knowledge after the events of the Halloween episode.[2]
  • Willow learns of Xander's and Cordelia's relationship.[2]
  • Faith mentioned about Buffy using the rocket launcher in Faith, Hope and Trick
  • After Angel taunts Buffy that she can't kill him, she kicks him the crotch and says, "Give me time."


  • Although Buffy gets the drop on Angel when she first learns he is a vampire ("Angel"), and tries to goad him into fighting her when she comes back from visiting her father in L.A. ("When She Was Bad"), it is not until he reverts to Angelus in this episode that they engage in their first actual battle with one another.
  • The rocket-propelled grenade launcher which Xander obtained would appear again in the episode "Him".
  • Spike calls Buffy "Rebecca of Sunnyhell Farm" in the episode "What's My Line (Part II)", a reference to the Kate Douglas Wiggin novel Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm. The 1938 Shirley Temple movie version has a song in it entitled "Goodnight, My Love" which is also featured in another Shirley Temple movie – Stowaway – the one Buffy and Joyce watch at the end of the episode.

Broadcast and reception[edit]

"Innocence" was the highest rated episode ever for Buffy the Vampire Slayer, scoring a 5.2 Nielsen rating and a 6.7 overnight rating, with each ratings point representing 980,000 households. It was watched by 8.2 million viewers. The two-part story won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Makeup for a Series, one of only two Emmys the series would win.

In Entertainment Weekly's list of the 25 best Whedonverse episodes—including episodes from Buffy, as well as Angel, Firefly and Dollhouse—"Innocence" placed at #2, with the magazine saying, "It's as primal a metaphor for the terrors of sex as one could imagine, and it showed the audience, the cast, and Whedon himself just how high his little show about dusting vampires could climb."[3] Kristine Sutherland told BBC that this is her favorite episode as a fan.[4] Joss Whedon listed "Innocence" as his favorite episode of the series.[5]


  1. ^ Miller, Laura (May 20, 2003), The man behind the Slayer, retrieved 2007-07-17 
  2. ^ a b "Episode Guide: Innocence". BBC. 
  3. ^ Bernardin, Marc; Vary, Adam B. (24 September 2009). "25 Best Whedonverse Episodes". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 7 June 2013. 
  4. ^ "Kristine Sutherland - Live Online chat". BBC. January 10, 2002. Retrieved June 9, 2013. 
  5. ^ Bianco, Robert (April 28, 2003). "Show's creator takes a stab at 10 favorite episodes". USA Today. Retrieved June 9, 2013. 

External links[edit]