Friday, December 28, 2007

Angel Wednesday (23 December)

To catch up for the extra "Buffy"s we saw the other night, we had lots of "Angel" watching to do this past visit. In the end, we couldn't have picked three better episodes to watch, as they turned out to be a nice little trilogy.

First up was "The Trial," written by Doug Petrie and Tim Minear. Angel is still all obsessed with Darla and Cordelia and Wesley are worried about him. He claims to have his mind on other things, but Gunn shows up with info on Darla's location, and Angel takes off to find her.

Before Angel gets there, Evillawyerdude Lindsay McDonald finds Darla and takes her back to Wolfram & Hart. Darla wears a crucifix around her neck in this episode. Now I gotta wonder why that is. Has she undergone some kind of religious conversion? Is it like Indy Jones getting a tattoo of a cobra on his arm? Is it simply fashionable? Or maybe it's like a dog tag, a reminder of what she's been through, what she used to be. Hey, I don't know, I don't even work here.

She is taken to Holland Manners, who tells her the disease that was killing her in the Seventeenth Century (tyranist kept referring to it as "consumption," which I find amusing even if I'm too dumb to know why) has returned. She has a very limited time left as a human being.

Like I said last time, with all we saw in the Darla and Spike origin episodes, we're in need of no more flashbacks ever again.

So of course, we get two here.

We go back to the Seventeen-hundreds, when Angelus is newly envamped, traveling across Europe with Darla. It looks romantic, but they have been too fearless, it seems, and are on the run from outraged mobs and vampire hunters. They hide in a barn and talk for a moment, but soon the mob has the barn surrounded, and guess what, they've got something to burn it with.

Angelus talks big about going out with a glorious battle, the two of them side by side . . . but when he turns around, Darla has gotten astride a horse and breaks free, leaving him to fend for himself.

Angel and Gunn, in the present, continue to look for Darla, checking out her now-empty motel. He's sure something bad has happened to her.

The Darla in question goes to a bar alone and flirts with a really dim vampire. Try as she might, she can't get this guy to turn her into one, even though she practically throws herself at him. She does convince him to go out to the alley with her, but before he can bite her (if he ever would have), Angel appears and stakes the guy.

She blames him for being there, explaining that she is dying, and wouldn't be if he had just turned her when she first asked him to. Or the second time. Or the third.

Angel is suspicious that she has been lied to about her condition (after all, she still looks hotter than she ever did in the previous five seasons of "Buf-gel"), and takes her to Angel Investigations to hide out. Angel goes out into the night to find out the truth.

He first goes to Evillawyerdude Lindsay's place and is surprised when Lindsay invites him in. He too was suspicious and had a second, third, and fourth opinion brought in. They all declare her terminally ill, and he too asks Angel to reconsider turning her into a vampire again to spare her from suffering. Lindsay is a really complex character.

Angel takes Darla to the demon karaoke bar, and makes her sing a song. She's actually quite good, and that ticks me off, but what the hey. Lorne looks into her soul and confirms that she's dying. He says there is one way Angel could save her, though. He sends them both to a location with an empty swimming pool. Angel dives in and finds himself in some other realm where he is to be tested.

He has to pass three trials and if he does, Darla will be spared. She is allowed to watch the trials, which apparently, no one has ever survived.

First Angel has to take his shirt off and fight a big demon with a sword. Eventually, he manages to take the sword away and cut the demon in half with it, but it sticks itself together and comes at him again. In the end, he slices it in two and chains the halves up, preventing them from reuniting. Nice.

Angel's second task is to get out of a locked chamber where the
floor is covered with crosses. I didn't mention that aside from his shirt, he had to take his shoes and socks off as well. Angel has to cross the room, burning his feet with the crosses, and finds the key to escape in a big vat of holy water. He plunges his arm in and retrieves the key.

For the third test, Angel is manacled in a room with stakes all over the walls. He is told that the third trial is whether he will give his life for Darla. He seems willing, but the question is put forth: wouldn't the world be better with honourable Angel in it than a healed, amoral Darla? If he chooses, he can go free, and she will perish quickly and painlessly.

In the end, Angel offers to die for Darla, and zip bang zap!, he's back in the real world with Darla at his side. Of course, that was the trial, wasn't it?

He has passed all three.

Unfortunately, when the time comes for Darla to be healed, we find out she's already been supernaturally brought back from the dead once, and you only get one. Nothing more can be done for her.

Well, Angel has something of a fit, punching the walls and destroying things around him.* He really did get a raw deal (the guy's sore and burned and battered and seared, and his hair is a little bit mussed on the left side). They go back to Darla's place (can vampires get syphilis?), and in his despair, he offers to bite Darla and turn her back.

She adamantly refuses, having come to an understanding of what it is to be truly human (or to truly have a soul) and is content now that she knows how much Angel cares for her. She was supposed to have died this way centuries ago, and is willing to accept it as justice, as long as he's with her in the end. Quite nice, really.

But suddenly, a bunch of dudes burst into the room, zapping Angel with a taser, and in walks Lindsay. He is disgusted that Angel wouldn't save Darla, so he's brought someone with him: Drusilla. Crazy and evil, she walks over and bites Darla, then cuts herself so Darla can drink from her as well. The end.

I guess I should have expected it, but nicely, the episode did not begin with "And Juliet Landau as Drusilla" to spoil the surprise, as Buffy always does.

Yep, that's the second time I've proclaimed something about "Angel" better than "Buffy," but I promise I won't do it again. At least this year.

A great one, this was, in most ways. These episodic shows are designed to be unsatisfying, but this one really, really was. We quickly watched the next one, but I can't help but wonder what happened to Angelus when he was trapped by the vampire hunter and Darla abandoned him. I don't remember for sure, but Darla may even have knocked him unconscious before she left, so how he got out of that, I've no clue.

The next "Angel" episode did answer a lot of questions (though not that one). It was called "Reunion," and was written by Tim Minear and Shawn Ryan (Ryan being the guy who went on to create "The Shield").

It picks up not long after the last episode. Gunn brings Angel back to Angel Investigations, bruised and beaten. He tells them what happened and vows to stake Darla before she rises as a soulless bloodsucker.

Speaking of lawyers, Manners is having a big wine-tasting party at his home. Before then, though, he tells Drusilla to take Darla out and kill a bunch of people. You know, for old times' sake.

Angel figures Drusilla would've been traditional and bury Darla somewhere under the stars. I'm not exactly sure how Angel finds her, but she's been buried on a rooftop garden in the city. No stars are visible in the middle of L.A., but alright.

Angel is about to stake her when Drusilla attacks him with a shovel. While they're struggling, Darla comes out of the ground. She jumps off the building (seemingly confused), and Drusilla follows her. Angel gets his crew together and they all go to Wolfram & Hart to take the bad guys down.

Darla isn't as pleased as we'd guess about being a vampire again, and yells at Drusilla. Drusilla tries to explain why she did it, calling Darla "Grandmother" a few times. Eventually, Darla drinks a human's blood, and it puts her back to where she used to be. She and Drusilla decide to go shopping.

Cordelia has a vision, but Angel doesn't want to hear about it. He very nearly abandons the subject of her vision to torment and death, but reluctantly relents. He leaves the others attending to the rescued man, then speeds back after Darla by himself.

The two vampire women are around town, killing salespeople and (hopefully) meter maids, trying on clothes, and doing other girl things.

Angel storms into Wolfram & Hart and is immediately arrested. He tells Manners that Darla and Drusilla are going to kill people, but Manners tells him he doesn't care. When Angel gets loaded into the cop car, guess who is there?

No, not her, it's Policewomanofficer Kate Lockley. She is still abrupt, but seems to have thawed a couple of degrees toward Angel. She knows that she doesn't have a chance at stopping Drusilla & Darla, so she lets Angel go to do just that.

He goes to the crime scene and finds a survivor hiding in a dressing room. She tells him what she overheard the vampires saying, and where they were going next.

So, Holland Manners is throwing a nice old party in his wine cellar, when suddenly, Darla and Drusilla arrive. It seems Manners's wife invited them in, and paid for it with her life. Soon, all the party guests are going to join her.

Manners tries to convince Darla that they helped her out before, and are on her side. Friends, even. Darla tells him that she senses fear in them. In everybody there, except for Lindsay.

Angel gets to the door and finds Manners's wife dying on the floor. She invites Angel in too. Angel goes to the wine cellar and Manners and company are sure glad to see him there. Angel shrugs and backs away. Holland Manners pleads that Darla and Drusilla are going to kill them, but Angel tells him he doesn't care. He locks them in together and leaves. I believe that Manners and our story have parted ways permanently.

Back at Angel Investigations, Wesley, Cordelia, and Gunn seem less than pleased about this little turn of events. They tell Angel their concerns and he tells them they're fired. The end.

Not bad. Really, really dark, but not bad. I'm quite enjoying the show, even though it doesn't show in my blog. I'm just struggling with this post, which is now more than a week overdue.

You know what? I think I'll just leave it at this, and come back to the last "Angel" episode when I'm feeling winter fresh.

Or maybe spearmint.

Rish Eustice Outfield

*I once did something similar when my roommate John asked me to go Country Dancing with him.

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