Original Air Date: December 15, 1998
Written by Joss Whedon
Directed by Joss Whedon
Vampires Slain = 0
After Buffy tells her friends about her encounter with Angel the next day at school, Oz finally decides to give Willow a second chance at their relationship. Later that night, Buffy and Joyce shop for a Christmas tree. While looking around, Joyce suggests that Buffy invite Faith to their place on Christmas Eve. Buffy notices a small group of dead trees that the salesman can't explain. At the motel, Faith turns down Buffy's invitation, explaining that she already has plans to attend a party. Meanwhile, Angel shows up at Giles' doorstep in need of help. Giles invites him in, but not before he grabs a crossbow to protect himself with. Angel wants to find out how and why he returned to Earth, but he is soon distracted by the presence of Jenny Calendar in the apartment. She is invisible to Giles, which adds to his confusion when Angel suddenly runs out the door. Back at the mansion, Angel dreams about another moment in time when he took the life of a servant named Margaret. After drinking her blood, Angel looks up to see Buffy watching the whole event. Angel suddenly wakes up... as does Buffy.
Inside the mansion, Angel is haunted by Jenny, Daniel, Margaret, and visions of his many other victims. Buffy, meanwhile, tells Giles that she shared Angel's dream the previous night. They decide to do some research in hopes of discovering the reason for Angel's return to Earth. Xander and Willow show up shortly to aid in the research. After a while, both Buffy and Angel fall asleep and share another dream in which they make love in Buffy's bedroom. Their romantic moment is interrupted by the vision of a man with no eyes. Before Buffy can figure out what's going on, Angel bites into Buffy's neck, effectively waking both of them up from their slumbers. Angel listens to Jenny as she tries to convince him that losing his soul with Buffy again and killing her will bring him the peace he desires. Giles shows an illustration of three men with no eyes to Buffy, who recognizes the face from her most recent dream. Called the Bringers, or Harbingers, these high priests can summon The First. As Giles explains, The First is the name given to Absolute Evil. Since it is not a physical being, Buffy cannot fight it. Buffy and Xander visit Willy's bar, hoping to get some information on the whereabouts of the Bringers. All they learn is that the Bringers might be underground. Xander decides that they should go home and enjoy Christmas Eve before resuming their search.
With her parents out of town for the evening, Willow invites Oz over to her home to watch a few movies. When Oz arrives, he soon realizes that Willow has made a small change of plans. Willow tells him that she's ready to sleep with him, but Oz knows that she's only doing this as an extreme means of redemption. He turns down Willow's offer, preferring to spend the night in a simpler way, like kissing on the couch. Meanwhile, Faith shows up at the Summers' front porch. Explaining that she thought twice about the party, Faith gives a couple gifts to Buffy and Joyce. While Faith settles in, Buffy goes upstairs to her bedroom to fetch their presents. She is surprised to find Angel in her bedroom. However, he's a little out of it at this point, staring longingly at her neck. Jenny stands behind Buffy, urging Angel to take the final plunge, both symbolically and literally. Angel can't go through with it, and he dives through Buffy's window. Back at the mansion, Angel tells Jenny that he will end his own life, using the deadly rays of the sun to do the deed. After entrusting Faith with her mother's safety, Buffy goes to Giles' apartment in an attempt to find out where the Bringers are. One of Giles' books contains a passage that indicates the inability of life to grow above or below the Bringers. This leads Buffy back to the suspicious group of dead trees she noticed a while ago. Using an axe, Buffy breaks open a hole in the ground that she immediately enters. Underground, Buffy finds the Bringers and makes short work of them with the axe. However, Buffy isn't prepared to see the figure of Jenny Calendar standing before her. Buffy listens as the vision of Jenny speaks for The First, boasting its legendary might. Buffy has no time to entertain The First, which tells her that Angel will die by sunrise. Buffy runs back to the mansion to find Angel, but he is no longer there. She finally locates him at the top of a hill which overlooks Sunnydale. Buffy tries to get Angel indoors before sunrise, but Angel won't budge. He tells her that he can't go on living, knowing that his very existence presents a threat to the woman he loves so dearly. Buffy refuses to agree, expressing her love for Angel and the self-hatred that goes along with it. Their stand-off is unexpectedly interrupted by several flakes of snow falling from the sky. Soon enough, a steady snowfall envelops Sunnydale for the first time ever, preventing the sun's rays from reaching the ground below and ending Angel's life. Nobody can explain it, but that doesn't matter to Buffy and Angel. Some higher power, whomever or whatever it may be, has given Angel yet another lease on life... on Christmas, no less.
Sarah Michelle Gellar
Anthony Stewart Head
Cornelia Hayes O'Herlihy
Tom Michael Bailey