The fraught and ever-turbulent romance between Buffy and Angel was a key storyline of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but its best moment arguably came in the spinoff series Angel. The series followed the continuing adventures of Angel following their breakup in Buffy the Vampire Slayer‘s third season. In Angel season 1, episode 8, “I Will Remember You,” the tragic lovers finally have their wishes granted, albeit briefly, providing an apt conclusion to the relationship. From Buffy and Angel’s first kiss to their tragic conclusion, this story was essential for both characters and their respective series.
The franchise, created by Joss Whedon, primarily follows the adventures of teenage vampire slayer, Buffy Summers, and her ongoing mission to subdue evil forces. Buffy and Angel’s romance is teased early and develops as the series unfolds before the pair ultimately decide they must part ways. In Buffy season 4, episode 8, “Pangs,” a vengeful spirit plagues Sunnydale. Concerned for Buffy’s safety, Angel arrives in town and assists from the shadows, choosing not to reveal his presence. When Buffy discovers this, she travels to Los Angeles to confront Angel. The crossover episodes were intended to bolster the audience of Angel, which had a later broadcast time and a darker tone than its predecessor, though retained many similarities to Buffy the Vampire Slayer – both shows featured killer puppet episodes.
The most poignant moment in the doomed slayer/vampire romance is instigated when Buffy challenges Angel’s commitment to his trademark shadow lurking rather than just talking to her. The scene allows Buffy to demonstrate her growth into adulthood and maturity. Buffy declares “I’m a big girl now, Angel,” referencing their attempts to move on, and the somewhat childish behavior demonstrated by the 300-year-old vampire. This is disrupted by an attacking demon, which ultimately leads to Angel’s humanity being restored. Now untethered, the couple rejoices in their newfound ability to retain a normal relationship. Angel later worries he will be unable to protect Buffy without his vampire strength and seeks a return to his vampire form, proffered to him through a reversal of time. Buffy and Angel are given one last mournful minute to enjoy the fruition of their love before the day resets, with only Angel retaining the memory – suggesting the creation of another alternate Buffy universe/timeline.
Why “I Will Remember You” Is Such A Tragic Episode
The episode gives Buffy and Angel the life they always yearned for – to live as a normal couple who can enjoy normal, daytime activities. It acts as the positive counterpart to Buffy the Vampire Slayer season 2, episode 13, “Surprise,” in which the pair’s lovemaking strips Angel of his soul, returning him to his evil vampire persona. One of the most tragic stories from Buffy, its repercussions led to the lovers’ separation. When Buffy and Angel make love in “I Will Remember You,” they are permitted to experience pure joy. Reliving this moment with a happy ending only makes the eventual conclusion all the more tragic. When Angel breaks the news of the imminent time-bending memory-wipe, a tearful Buffy reaches out and feels the heartbeat of her previously undead lover, both enjoying Angel’s humanity and their successful relationship in the last few seconds before it is cruelly ripped away.
While a Buffy the Vampire Slayer reboot has been delayed indefinitely, both the full story can be enjoyed across both original series on Disney+. “I Will Remember You” delivered the resolution that Buffy, Angel, and their devoted audiences deserved. While the drama that led to their breakup featured heavily in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, it was an episode of Angel that gave their relationship an appropriately romantic and heartbreaking conclusion.