You’re not friends. You’ll never be friends. You’ll be in love ’til it kills you both. You’ll fight, and you’ll shag, and you’ll hate each other ’til it makes you quiver, but you’ll never be friends.
Buffy starts off as a story about misfits, and to be fair, it does continue in this vein for the majority of the show. No matter what they do, they will always be a little bit different to everyone else. And hey, as someone who has always been different, there is nothing wrong with that (don’t ever listen to anyone who says there is something wrong with you).
However, the main thing that has so many people debating isn’t the ‘blonde girl running into a room and killing all the monsters’ but the vampire slayer falling in love (twice) with the vampire.
Buffy’s love story with Angel is definitely one that is destined to end in disaster. Angel is Romeo and Buffy is Juliet. They are a tragedy waiting to happen, and though both of them know this without any doubt, they are still determined to be together. The consequences are something that they seem to be happy enough to either ignore altogether or just forget until they are unavoidable.
Buffy’s infatuation with Angel led to the release of Angelus, a pretty nasty piece of work who actually made the character of Angel rather interesting. To be honest, Angel’s character, the mysterious brooding vampire who was a ‘vegetarian’ was a little lacklustre, and probably at least partially responsible for the sparkly vegetarian vampires in Twilight.
Angelus’ escape at the moment of Angel’s greatest pleasure (yes, here I do mean Buffy) led to some of the strongest episodes of Buffy ever, at least in my view.
Angelus clearly had a desire to destroy everything that made him feel anything resembling human emotions, which makes me wonder what sort of human he’d been before his turning. But even though he was an absolute jerk (stronger words come to mind, truthfully), he still toyed with his desired victim…giving her clues as to his true intentions. Poor Jenny Calendar and the accidentally-activated slayer Kendra were his only human victims (if you’re counting the ones we were given a chance to get to know) unless you count poor Willow’s fish).
Anyway, back to the love story. Buffy, in true ‘star-crossed tragic heroine’ style, has to destroy her beloved before he destroys the world. Okay, so the tale of Romeo and Juliet wasn’t quite so disastrous for everyone else around them (it wasn’t apocalyptic), but the moment Buffy has to pull the metaphorical trigger and actually destroy Angel, or the world, she is ‘adult’ enough to know what she has to do. The act of killing the man she loves, sending him into a hellish dimension even though she knows he has regained his soul and will suffer, is a true sacrifice.
After killing Angel to save the world, Buffy is broken and the opening of season three is about getting her back, helping her to find herself, though she is keeping a lot from her friends. She is battling guilt and regret and wants nothing more than to get Angel back.
Even after Angel returns from the hell dimension, destroyed by what he experienced and saw, things are not the same. They are still in love but have to face the knowledge that they can never be together.
After Angel leaves, which he claims is for her good (oh how nice to be so self-sacrificing), he leaves a huge hole in the group. Luckily, Buffy has the support of her friends and she sort of bounces back, conveniently right into the arms of Riley Finn (we will not go there)…and of course, there is her return to the love of a vampire (seems she is forever destined to want to fight her slayer nature and be with her ‘natural enemy’) in the form of Spike…but her forever love will always be Angel.