Written by: Douglas Petrie
Directed by: David Grossman
Air Date: March 16, 1999

The magical thing about this episode is that I couldn’t remember if Angel was actually turned for a bit and then re-ensouled or if it was an act the whole way through. When it was revealed I remembered that Giles had helped the shaman find his wife and had thus faked the de-souling portion of the plot, but up until then I was left only remembering bits and pieces of the episode, in their entirety. This might sound like the episode is great and thus worthy of a high score, but that is the opposite. In fact, one “magical” thing about an episode is not enough to warrant much talk at all about the whole thing. Such is the case with “Enemies”.

I’ll get right to the good, though: Mayor  Richard Wilkins. Up to this point, the guy has been goofy, but here we’re finally getting to know him and we have a character on the inside: Faith. From offering her milk to offering a shadowy, hooded guy a mint, to suggesting mini-golf in order to wash away the smell of defeat, the Mayor is turning into an interesting fellow. I haven’t really mentioned how good a job actor Harry Groener does with this role, but here is where he really starts to shine. His goofy nature is starting to peel away, as are his creepier aspects. Now we’re seeing the human side of this guy for the first time, his fatherly side. Its a great bit of character acting and the guy is a real pro.

But here’s what I hated about the episode: Everything else. I get that they needed a plan to out Faith as a bad guy and on the Mayor’s side. But when that plan is “have Angel ‘turn evil’ and then do nothing but make out with her for a week”, I fail to become entertained. That is all this episode was: Angel and Faith locking lips. I get why this was done to the max – an effort to convince viewers that it was legit and Angel was really evil again – but watching it after all of these years, its kinda gross. And Buffy simply watching, knowing her plan is working, and that that means watching them stick their tongues down each other’s throats until they can go no further? It just seems… well, gross. We do learn some stuff about Faith and the Mayor’s plans, but its seems like an awful risk to accomplish these things. If one thing had gone wrong, who could even guess what would have happened? To think Giles would have allowed this…? Or Wesley?

The reveal at the end, though, that they’d played Faith like a cheap violin was nice. Angel and Buffy try their best to get the jump on the, but everyone else thinks Angel is evil, so they bust in and keep the pair from doing anything too important. Buffy and Faith have it out a bit, but Faith calls Buffy out on not being able to kill her and darts out. And then everyone goes home empty handed, for the most part, but a little bit wiser. Everyone knows which side everyone is on, and everyone knows something is up with “the Ascension”. That’s pretty much all that comes out of this episode.

There’s some other interesting stuff, like Angel being extra creepy toward Buffy’s mom for seemingly no reason (was he just assuming he’d possibly have to make the charade last longer and wanted his bases covered? Or was he just being nice in an offsetting way? Faith never saw Angelus so its not like she knew his personality traits in the least. It doesn’t make much sense, is what I’m saying). By this I mean to replace “poorly written” with “interesting” seeing as how its just not a well put-together episode. The previous episode and the one right after this one are both well constructed, but neither advance the season arc in the least. This one tries to advance it but fails by being poorly written. What a shame.

“Enemies” hits some of the right buttons, but misfires too often. It introduces a hokey plot device and fails to use it properly. Early episodes of his own show feature Angel turning evil due to some magical tomfoolery and manage to do so with mild-to-great success, so I don’t understand why this didn’t work so well in this one, aside from a lousy script. Oh well, we got some vital information from the characters and we know what’s coming up, somewhat, for The Mayor and his big plans. I guess we move forward with that and be happy we got any info at all.

Episode Rating: 73

Additional Notes:
-I like Angel’s meeting with The Mayor. Wonder what they would have done if they’d met last season when Angel was actually bad?
-How nice that the shaman guy just happened to know Giles
-Wesley is starting to understand that Giles is really in charge, but that doesn’t stop him from being kind of a dick about it
-That demon wanted money and Giles can’t stand it. He doesn’t care for the demon’s lack of standards
-The murder of that demon in his home by Faith
is rather brutal, actually
-Faith calls The Mayor “sugar daddy” and its admittedly odd