A while back gabrielleabelle had a poll about "Beauty and the Beast" where she asked, "When Buffy first runs into Angel, he has blood on his mouth. Had he killed somebody?"
Most people answered that he'd been hunting animals. About 25% of people thought he'd attacked a person, though 8% thought he might not have killed anyone. The resulting discussion was mostly full of hypotheticals. Nobody seemed to have a clear answer.
Faith: Nice place. Do you ever catch kids doing the diddy out here?
Buffy: No. There's a smooch spot up by the woods. That's usually where kids go.
Where does Buffy later find Angel? In the woods. Where the kids go to do the diddy. Doesn't that sound like the sort of activity that would attract a ravenous beast (sex & blood -- the vampire's favorite cocktail)? Oh sure, that's "an awful generalization." It also makes perfect sense for Angel. I think it's still ambiguous whether Angel attacked a person or not, but it definitely seems like the episode wants to imply that not only were people out in those woods where Angel was running wild, but they were the young and making with the loving.
The structure of the episode has three women and their three monstrous boyfriends. Willow's Oz willingly locks himself up, though when he's caught up in a strong emotion and wants to bail, it takes Willow's reminder that the sun is setting. Still, he acquiesces to her. Willow's helping to keep the beast under lock and key. Buffy meanwhile knocks Angel out and chains him; like Willow, she's in full on research mode only she's not trying to figure out if Angel killed someone but rather if he can be redeemed. The difference to me is key; I think she's trying to determine if she has to kill him again. And this relates to Debbie and her monster, Pete. Debbie has no control over Pete. She's completely under his control.
Buffy: Look at yourself. Why are you protecting him? Anybody who really
loved you couldn't do this to you.
She takes a few steps away. Debbie turns around to face them.
Debbie: Would they take him someplace?
Debbie: (shakes her head, sobbing) I could never do that to him. I'm his everything.
Buffy: (disgusted) Great. So what, you two live out your Grimm fairy tale? Two people are dead.
Debbie just shakes her head and says nothing.
Buffy: Who's gonna be next?
Okay, the episode isn't even trying to be subtle. Buffy's being harsh on Debbie, but she's really not talking to Debbie at all. She's talking to herself. Earlier in the episode, Giles told her that there were two kinds of monster, one that wanted to be redeemed and one that was lost to love and reason, just a mindless animal. This upsets Buffy. She ends up leaving school in the middle of the day, trying to talk to Angel, even going so far as to touch him, but Angel just growls and acts like an animal. Right now, Angel appears to be the second kind of monster, the irredeemable one.
Which means that Buffy is so harsh on Debbie because she's giving herself the tough love. She tells Debbie to look at herself in the mirror, but it's both Debbie and Buffy who are looking at themselves in the mirror, literally and figuratively. Two people are dead? Jenny and Kendra. Debbie sobs that she could never send Pete away; well, Buffy's already done that by sending Angel to hell to save the world and she's also already shown that she's more than willing to keep Angel locked up if he's in a feral state. Does Buffy just think she can live out this Grimm fairy tale with Angel again? No. No, she does not. She's worried about "who's gonna be next" to die.
Unfortunately, the next person to die is Debbie. Watching the scene between Pete and Debbie, I kept thinking of Angel and Buffy during Season 2. Except when Angel thinks he's got Buffy on her knees, when she's sufficiently broken, instead she captures the sword and says, "Me." Like Platt said, Buffy might have lost herself "in love", but eventually you have to find a way back to yourself and that's what Buffy did when she killed Angel in "Becoming". Now, she's faced with the possibility of having to kill him again. And I think she's gearing up for it. She's so harsh on Debbie because she is Debbie or was Debbie when she let Angel live in "Innocence" and Jenny and Kendra (and Giles) paid the ultimate price. I think Buffy's past the point of holding out hope for Angel.
And here's the turning point. Buffy's ready to move on. We see her say "goodbye" to Angel in the last episode. Then he comes back and she's gearing herself to kill him again. She's found herself, she's refusing to lose herself in love to an unrepentant monster. She's not gonna be the Debbie to his Pete, the broken Buffy to his soulless Angel.
I've always thought the ending of this episode was a bit of a cheat how Angel swooped in and killed Pete. I thought it felt a bit too much like a romance novel. But watching it now, it occurred to me that Angel broke free from the chains Buffy had restrained him with to fight Pete. Pete is the unrepentant demon, the soulless Angel of the last year, and Angel kills him, then falls to his knees sobbing Buffy's name. Souled Angel kills the mirror image of soulless Angel to save Buffy. Angel, even in his feral state, could reason out the threat to the woman he loved. Giles said, "It would take someone of extraordinary will and character to survive that and retain any semblance of self." Gotta give Angel his due.
Buffy: Night came on, and a full moon rose high over the trees lighting the land till it lay bathed in ghostly day. And the strain of the primitive remained alive and active. Faithfulness and devotion, things born of fire and roof were his, yet he retained his wildness and wiliness. And from the depths of the forest, a call still sounded.
It ends with Buffy watching, vigilant, guarding the shred of humanity she glimpsed in Angel. He's not "a lost cause," she hopes--but only so long as Angel wants to be redeemed. So Buffy doesn't get to move on. Angel's humanity is too fragile and she sets herself up as caretaker and protector. Because Angel is still a monster, though he's the redeemable kind. He still retains "his wildness and wiliness", he still hears "a call" sound. He needs an anchor to humanity and for now, that anchor is Buffy.
This is the point where she should've told Giles and the others, I think. When she'd made the decision to help him and not kill him. I can understand her feeling the need to wait before because she was stunned, shocked even, and she panicked. Sigh. Wrong move, Buffy. Still I can't help feeling like she's completely lost the ability to reach out in part because of the horrible shock of opening up in therapy only to discover Platt dead. Just... damn.
Also, is there anything more hilarious than Giles getting hit by the tranq dart and falling forward into that table? I think not. :D And how awesome is that moment where Buffy tosses the tranq gun to Faith, says, "you get the wolf," and they divide and conquer. Faith and Buffy are keyed in right now. It's cool.