I Only Have Eyes For You
“To forgive is an act of compassion, Buffy. It’s-it’s… it’s not done because people deserve it. It’s done because they need it.”
Giles speaks about James needing forgiveness from Ms Newman in order for his spirit to move on and stop haunting the school. She has no right to forgive him for killing her, but she does need him to understand that breaking up was the right thing to do, and that she does still love him.
Since James possesses Buffy in the reenactment with Angelus, we are lead to believe that Buffy needs to be forgiven by Angel for allowing Angelus to take over again. Buffy “killed” Angel and is being haunted by the vengeful demon Angelus, taunting her and threatening her. Angelus, being possessed by Grace Newman, might be speaking from Angel’s perspective. Angel forgives Buffy for what happened, not because he is any less “dead” or “gone”, but because she can never move past the fear of Angelus without knowing that Angel is still on her side.
Buffy also needs the forgiveness of Buffy. Buffy needs to forgive herself for what happened so that she can move beyond it. I place a very clear distinction between “getting over” something, and “moving beyond” something. When you move beyond something, it is still there and it will always be there, but it doesn’t have to consume you. Getting over something is more akin to forgetting about it. Buffy cannot get over what happened, but maybe she can move beyond it.