"Surprise" is the thirteenth episode of the second season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and the twenty-fifth episode in the series. Written by Joss Whedon with Marti Noxon and directed by Michael Lange, it was originally broadcast on January 19, 1998, on The WB network.
PART ONE OF A NOT TO BE MISSED TWO-PART EPISODE — The fate of the world is at stake when Spike and Drusilla gather the dismembered body parts of The Judge — a demon with a deadly touch — from the ends of the earth as their ultimate weapon to extinguish The Slayer. Meanwhile, Angel's ability to feel human emotion is in jeopardy when he and Buffy share an intimate moment which threatens to destroy his soul.
Buffy tosses in her sleep, then wakes up thirsty, but the water glass by her bed is empty. As Drusilla follows her, Buffy carries her glass down the hall to find that her bathroom is the Bronze. Buffy moves through the crowd of people dancing slowly and sees Willow speaking French to an organ-grinder's monkey. She then encounters her mother, who asks "Do you really think you're ready, Buffy?" before the saucer she holds drops to the floor and breaks. As Joyce turns away, Buffy moves back into the crowd, then turns herself, smiling at something she sees behind her. The crowd has parted and Angel is slowly coming toward her, smiling as well. Suddenly, Drusilla steps up behind Angel and stakes him in the back. Angel, in agony, reaches toward Buffy's reaching hand, but his fingers turn to dust before they can touch. In vamp-face, Drusilla says: "Happy birthday, Buffy." Buffy wakes up with a gasp.
Angel answers a knock at the door of his apartment to find Buffy, who wants to see with her own eyes that he's all right. Hearing that she dreamed that Drusilla was still alive and killed him, Angel tries to comfort Buffy reasoning with her, but, when her anxiety only seems to escalate, he kisses her. Buffy deepens their embrace until she reluctantly pulls away, saying she needs to get to school. Angel agrees she must, then catches her and kisses her again. Feigning resolve, Buffy moves toward the door while Angel stalks her, corners her, and kisses her yet again. He then reminds Buffy to tell him what she'd like for a gift. She says: "Surprise me." Angel smiles and murmurs "Okay, I will," then kisses her one last time. Buffy confesses that it's becoming harder to say goodbye, no matter whose bedtime it is. Angel agrees.
Walking across school grounds, Buffy tells Willow all. The two friends wonder whether Buffy is ready to take her relationship with Angel to the next level and Willow is awed to hear that Buffy believes it's "sort of inevitable." They spot Oz. Buffy encourages Willow to go talk to him, then continues on her way. Delighted when Oz asks her out, Willow remembers with chagrin that the Scoobies are throwing Buffy a surprise birthday party the following night. Oz is delighted in turn when Willow invites him to go as her date. Inside, at their lockers, Xander tries to suggest that Cordelia be his date to the party, since they'll both be going anyway, but she still doesn't want anyone to know about their relationship. Xander stalks away and runs into Giles, then Buffy and Ms. Calendar. The four of them take a table in the lounge area, but Xander doesn't stay long. Buffy fills Giles in about her nightmare and her fears for Angel. Giles concedes that Buffy's dream could be a portent, but insists they can protect Angel in any case. Buffy, still worried, goes off to class.
Meanwhile, Spike, in a wheelchair and with burn scars on his face, tries to talk Dru into having her party in Vienna to escape further interference from Angel and the Slayer. Drusilla dismisses his request to leave Sunnydale and continues to decorate their lair for the upcoming event. Dru then begins to fuss over the roses, so Spike indulges her with a peek into one of her presents. She opens and tells Spike "this will be the best party ever" because "it will be the last," then slams the box shut.
The next morning, her birthday, Buffy tells her mom she suddenly feels "responsible, mature, and level-headed" enough to become a licensed driver, to which Joyce replies: "Uncanny." Buffy continues to plead, but is stunned to hear her mother ask "Do you really think you're ready, Buffy?" and to watch a plate slip from Joyce's fingers and shatter on the kitchen floor. Before class, Jenny arranges her desk and is surprised by a visitor, her uncle Enyos, who came to remind her that she is Janna, of the Kalderash people, and must still fulfill her obligations to her tribe. She has been sent to Sunnydale to make sure Angel's curse remains intact, but the elder woman can sense that Angel's pain is lessening. Jenny tells him that "there's a girl" in Angel's life, so her uncle lectures her about the purpose of Angel's curse as vengeance for killing their tribe's favorite daughter, then charges Jenny with the task of separating Angel from the girl.
Meanwhile, in the library, Buffy tells Giles, Willow, and Xander that her dream is coming true, so Drusilla might be a threat to Angel. Giles agrees and says he'll read up on the vampire to see if she has any particular patterns. Buffy agrees to return at 7:00 that evening and wanders away. Willow and Xander conclude that the current crisis puts the kibosh on their party plans, but Giles insists they celebrate regardless. At night, Jenny intercepts Buffy, saying that Giles has changed the plan and wants to meet her somewhere else. Buffy accepts her ride. Recognizing that they are near the Bronze, Buffy suddenly spots vampire activity around a truck backed up to a well-lit loading dock. Despite Jenny's demurral, Buffy goes to slay them while she waits in the car. Buffy recognizes Dalton from Spike's crew. She stakes one of the other vamps but, while she engages with a second, Dalton runs away empty-handed.
While Angel and the Scoobies hide waiting for Buffy to arrive, she and the last vamp crash through a window into the Bronze. With the fight inside, Oz — getting his first exposure of Buffy staking a vampire — concludes that it "explains a lot." Jenny then brings in the crate left behind by Spike's vamps. They open it and find an armored, gauntlet, severed arm, which comes alive and tries to strangle Buffy. After prying her loose, Angel explains his suspicion that Dru is attempting to bring back a powerful demon called the Judge, whose purpose is to rid the world of "the plague of humanity" by "burning the righteous down," leaving only the evil alive.
Recognizing Angel's account, Giles further explains that the Judge could not be killed, even by an entire army, and was only neutralized by being dismembered and its pieces scattered to "every corner of the earth." Angel warns that, if Spike and Dru succeed, reassembling the Judge will "bring forth Armageddon." Giles says they must get the arm as far away as possible, and Jenny states that Angel has to be the one to take it. Angel accepts the mission to take the Judge's arm to "the remotest region possible," a trip that could take months, and knows he must leave immediately. Jenny offers to drive Angel to the docks.
Back at their lair, Dru threatens to poke out Dalton's eyes for losing her present, but Spike convinces her to give the scholar one more chance to find it again.
Leaving Jenny to wait in the car, Buffy walks Angel up to the pier. Both crying, he gives her the Claddagh ring he chose for her gift. Buffy pleads with Angel to stay, but he hushes her, urging her not to dwell on the time they'll be apart or the dangers they'll each certainly face. After they kiss, Angel is interrupted by a vampire attack. In the ensuing fight, Buffy is thrown off the pier and Angel leaps into the water after her, leaving Dalton and two vamp thugs to make away with the box containing the Judge's arm.
The gang (minus Oz and Cordelia) congregates back at the library to research a way to find Dru and stop the Judge. Knowing she hasn't been sleeping well lately, the others let Buffy rest in Giles' office, where she slips into a dream of a dim interior containing candles, greenery, and Ms. Calendar. Wearing a long white satin nightgown, the dreaming Slayer bends to examine a collection of boxes that seem to contain other pieces of the Judge. At that moment, Drusilla calls to her from the catwalk above, where she holds Angel hostage. When Dru presses a dagger to his throat, Buffy yells and wakes up, with Angel sitting right beside her.
Back at the lair, Dru's party gets underway and Spike presents her with the final piece to the puzzle: the Judge's head. With the last box in place, the whole structure glows and opens down the middle, revealing the blue-skinned horned demon inside. The Judge totters a bit when he steps from his reassembled coffin, so Spike confronts the demon about his murky intentions and weakened condition. Eager to see some action, Dru offers the Judge a "party favor." The demon chooses Dalton, who retains some vestige of humanity, and burns the vampire to ash. Dru and Spike are excited by the show.
Buffy, recognizing the factory from her dream, takes Angel on a recon mission, sending the others to various transport locales, just in case the final pieces of the Judge have yet to arrive. At the factory, Buffy and Angel sneak along the catwalk and see Spike and Drusilla entertaining their guests below. Just as they realize what they are seeing, the Judge becomes aware of their presence. Buffy and Angel are captured and brought before the Judge, Spike, and Dru, but manage to break free before the demon can kill them. Together, they escape through the sewers and emerge above ground in the pouring rain. They hold hands and run for shelter.
Angel sheds his dripping coat as soon as they reach his apartment. To alleviate her shaking, he brings Buffy some dry clothes and urges her to get under the covers to get warm. Angel turns his back as she changes, but starts at her audible wince. Sitting on the bed to inspect a cut on her back, Angel slips the camisole strap from her shoulder and tells her it's already healing. Buffy leans back into his embrace. She begins to weep and says: "You almost went away today." Angel replies: "We both did." He gets to tell her what he wanted to say on the docks: "I love you, Buffy. I try not to, but I can't stop." She tells him she feels the same way, then kisses him. Angel pulls back to murmur that "Buffy, maybe we shouldn't," but Buffy puts her finger to his lips and tells him: "Don't. Just kiss me." He sinks backward beneath her.
Some time later, they lie asleep together. Suddenly, Angel sits up with a gasp, then struggles from the bed, all the while thunder and lightning crash outside. He stumbles out to the alley and collapses, crying Buffy's name. Inside, she continues to sleep.
- Oz and Willow have their first date, commencing one of the longest relationships on the show, to end in "Wild at Heart."
- In the first dream, Willow says: "L'hippo a piqué ton pantalon," which means "The hippo stole your pants" in French, while speaking to the monkey. This refers back to her conversation with Oz near the end of "What's My Line? Part Two," in which he wonders if the hippo animal cracker is jealous of the fact that the monkey is the only animal cracker with pants, as well as asserting that "All monkeys are French."
- This episode takes place on January 19th, Buffy's birthday. It begins a tradition of her birthdays going awry, celebrating in the 12th, 13th, or 14th episode of each season ("Helpless," "A New Man," "Blood Ties," and "Older and Far Away").
- Buffy's birthday gift from Angel, her Claddagh ring, will be a resonant antecedent to Scott Hope's impromptu gift and then to Angel's return, in "Faith, Hope & Trick."
- Angel giving Buffy a Claddagh ring is the first hint that he is of Irish origin, which would be confirmed in "Becoming, Part One."
- The hole leading to the sewers created in the factory does not appear in the following episode, nor any future episode, where it appears to have been fixed.
- Willow mentions that Buffy once told her to seize the day. She is referring to "Welcome to the Hellmouth" when Buffy told her to "seize the moment," and she did, leading to her getting kidnapped by the vampire Thomas.
- Spike is shown to be severely injured from his ordeal in the church, while Drusilla is uninjured and cured. Spike's injuries from the organ falling on him and the fire are such that even weeks later, he still has burns on his face and is confined to a wheelchair, as well as being notably weak. It takes him until "I Only Have Eyes for You" to be able to secretly leave the wheelchair and until "Becoming, Part Two" to be fully recovered.
- This episode marks the first time that Angel loses his soul. It will be restored in "Becoming, Part Two" by Willow as her first spell. He will purposefully lose it again in the Angel episode "Awakening," and Willow will restore it once again in "Orpheus."
- Jennifer Calendar
- Mr. Chase (Only mentioned)
- Cordelia Chase
- Rupert Giles
- Alexander Harris
- Jessica Harris (Only mentioned)
- Master (Only mentioned)
- Daniel Osbourne
- Willow Rosenberg
- Buffy Summers
- Joyce Summers
- Kalderash elder woman (Only mentioned)
- Kalderash girl (Only mentioned)
Organizations and titles
- Las Vegas, USA (Only mentioned)
- Spain (Only mentioned)
- Sunnydale, USA
- Vienna, Austria (Only mentioned)
- Angel, staked by Drusilla at the Bronze (in a dream).
- A vampire, staked by Buffy outside the Bronze.
- A vampire, staked by Buffy with a drumstick at the Bronze.
- Dalton, burned by the Judge.
Behind the scenes
- Brian Thompson, who portrays the Judge, also played Luke in "Welcome to the Hellmouth." Both episodes were two-part episodes in which his character died in the second part.
- Mercedes McNab appeared as Harmony in this episode, however, due to time constraints and the focus on the Buffy/Angel and the Spike/Drusilla/Judge story lines, her scenes were cut out.
- Angel losing his soul because he attains a moment of pure happiness is reminiscent of the German legend of Faust, a scholar who made a deal with the devil. In gaining all worldly things, he agreed that, in return, if he ever attained a moment of pure happiness, his soul would forever serve the devil.
- Together with "Innocence," the show transitioned from Mondays to Tuesdays. This was the last episode to be played on a Monday; all subsequent episodes aired on Tuesday.
- "Surprise" had an audience of 4.4 million households.
- In England, the BBC cut the scene where Spike calls Dalton a wanker.
- This scene was cut for length:
- Jenny: "I guess it makes sense. I mean, all of Buffy's senses are heightened. Why should her intuition be different?"
- Giles: "Precisely. It's not unheard-of for the Slayer to start having prophetic dreams and visions as she approaches adulthood."
- Jenny: "Adulthood? Buffy's seventeen tomorrow, Giles. Don't rush her."
- Giles: "I'm not the one rushing her. While I loathe to say it, the fact is, the Slayer rarely lives into her mid-twenties. It follows that she'd exhibit signs of maturity early on. Her whole life cycle is accelerated."
- Jenny: "Still, you should be careful about treating her like a grown-up. Like this thing with Angel. Have you even talked to her about it?"
- Giles: "I… I suppose I try not to pry."
- Jenny: "Maybe you should, a little. The way she talks, it's clear she has intense feelings for him."
- Giles: "Well, yes. They're friends…"
- Jenny: "They're more than friends, and you know it."
- Giles: "I'm not her father, Jenny."
- Jenny: "She looks up to you. She'll never actually say that, but she does. And I just think, at her age, it's easy to get in over your head. She could make some bad choices here. Trust me on this one."
- Giles: "I'll keep an eye to it. Right now, I'm worried enough trying to think of the right birthday present."
- And also this one:
- Cordelia: "Hello. I'm having, like, a totally random thought. Xander Harris. Is it just me, or does his shirt almost match his pants?"
- Harmony: "Almost. Why do I care?"
- Cordelia: "Well. If you look at him a certain way — Is he vaguely… cute?"
- Xander: (Doing a spazzy dance for Willow's amusement)
- Harmony: "Oh, yeah. I'm hot for spaz boy. Are you tripping, Cordelia?"
- Cordelia: "You thought I was serious? Please. I was just testing you. Ha. I'm hot for spaz boy. Good one."
Pop culture references
- Xander imagines that future Buffy will work as a waitress at Denny's, the restaurant chain.
- Xander references the snake nut can, a popular practical joke.
- When Buffy goes to Angel to make sure he is still alive after her dream, she says that they never found Drusilla's body. As a vampire, Drusilla's body would have turned to dust upon her death.
- When Angel first awakens in pain, he is naked, but, when he bursts outside, he's fully dressed.
- Shawn Clement and Sean Murray ft. Cari Howe — "Anything"
- Rasputina — "Transylvanian Concubine"
- Christophe Beck — "This Is Nice"
- Christophe Beck — "Buffy Meets Judge"
- Christophe Beck — "Escape"
- Armenian: "Անակնկալ" (Surprise)
- Czech: "Překvapení" (Surprise)
- Finnish: "Yllätys" (Surprise)
- French: "Innocence, partie 1" (Innocence, Part 1)
- German: "Der Fluch der Zigeuner" (The Curse of the Gypsies)
- Hungarian: "Meglepetés" (Surprise)
- Italian: "Sorpresa" (Surprise)
- Japanese: "誕生日の贈り物" (Birthday Gifts)
- Polish: "Niespodzianka" (Surprise)
- Portuguese (Brazil): "Surpresa" (Surprise)
- Romanian: "Surpriză" (Surprise)
- Russian: "Сюрприз" (Surprise)
- Spanish (Latin America and Spain): "Sorpresa" (Surprise)
- Spanish (Spain): "Sorpresa" (Surprise)
- Swedish: "Överraskning" (Surprise)
- The book The Angel Chronicles, Volume 3 includes a novelization of this episode.
- The episode script was included in The Script Book: Season Two, Volume 3.
- This episode is included in The Buffy & Angel Chronicles VHS collection.
- The episode's score is partially featured in the album Buffy the Vampire Slayer Soundtrack Collection.
- This episode was briefly seen on a TV in the 2014 film The Fault in Our Stars. It was the scene in which Buffy and Angel kisses on his bed after Angel examines the cut on Buffy's back.
|Willow: "Oh I don't know though. I mean, he is a senior."|
|Buffy: "You think he's too old 'cause he's a senior? Please, my boyfriend had a bicentennial."|
|Oz: "I'm gonna ask you to go out with me tomorrow night. And I'm kinda nervous about it, actually. It's interesting."|
|Willow: "Oh. Well, if it helps at all, I'm gonna say yes."|
|Oz: "Yeah, it helps. It creates a comfort zone. Do you wanna go out with me tomorrow night?"|
|Willow: "Oh, I can't!"|
|Oz: "Well, see, I like that you're unpredictable."|
|Giles: "Here comes Buffy. Now remember, discretion is the better part of valor."|
|Xander: "You could have just said 'Shh.' God, are all you Brits such drama queens?"|
|Giles: "If Drusilla is alive, then it could be a fairly cataclysmic state of affairs."|
|Xander: "Again, so many words. Couldn't you just say we'd be in trouble?"|
|Giles: "Go to class, Xander."|
|Xander: "Gone. Notice the economy of phrasing. 'Gone.' Simple. Direct."|
|Xander: "Yep, vampires are real. A lot of 'em live in Sunnydale. Will'll fill you in."|
|Willow: "I know it's hard to accept at first."|
|Oz: "Actually, it explains a lot."|
- "The Mortuary." Buffy The Vampire Slayer. Archived from the original on June 9, 2001.
- Christopher Golden and Nancy Holder. The Watcher's Guide, Volume 1. Pocket Books, October 1998.
- "Nielsen Ratings for Buffy's Second Season." Nielsen Ratings for Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, & Firefly. Archived from the original on April 13, 2008.