In the tenth episode of the first season of Angel, Cordelia learns of a special gift that Doyle left behind with her, and a familiar face joins the team. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Angel.
I’m glad that Angel’s visit to the Oracles did not result in him coming back. He shouldn’t come back, as much as I liked him, because it cheapens the story. His death means something, and “Parting Gifts” simply could not happen without his death being a fixed event in this show. A great deal of this episode is about dealing with the grief that comes when you lose someone close to you, but it’s also a way for the writers to show us where Angel is headed as well.
Cordelia is, understandably, shaken up by Doyle’s death, and we can see that she overcompensates in order to give Angel the appearance that she’s fine. It’s so strange to watch this show without Doyle around, too, because his presence was so vital to the dynamic of the trio. How do you continue on without him? Angel, while heartbroken, is not as outwardly upset as Cordelia, and he rushes straight into work. That’s sort of what I did when I lost my father five and a half years ago. Keeping busy kept me distracted. Cordelia tries to do the same, but ends up suffering an emotional breakdown in the middle of her audition for a commercial. I felt so awful for her because I know it’s not easy to cope with feelings that come rushing in so suddenly.
And then she has a vision.
!!!!!!!! DO YOU REALIZE HOW HUGE THIS IS FOR HER CHARACTER !!!!!! HAVE I USED ENOUGH EXCLAMATION POINTS TO GET MY POINT ACROSS !!!!!! Cordelia has to see people in trouble and in danger and in pain and she can’t do anything about it and CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT. There is so much character development that could happen with this twist. As I’m sure you can tell, there’s nothing about this I don’t like. One of Cordelia’s main flaws is her inability to feel empathy for people, and it leads to some of her more crass statements. Ugh, this development makes me so excited for the future.
I might be just as excited to see more of Doyle’s “replacement.” It is just utterly brilliant that Angel brought in Wesley at this exact point. He’s a familiar face, he is nothing like Doyle, and he looks horrific in leather. Oh my god, Wesley, I missed your supreme awkwardness and all your failed attempts at being a badass, and I missed your face, and then you tried to act all suave with Angel and put your leg up on the bed, and you missed, and I laughed so hard both because your comedic timing is perfect and because I missed Doyle and LOOK AT ALL THESE FEELINGS. LOOK AT THEM.
It’s very clear that Angel has to move in a new direction after the death of Doyle. As it stands, Wesley isn’t exactly the most proficient or helpful addition to the group. Fired by the Watchers Council, left to wander the United States with nothing but a self-assigned purpose, Wesley kind of makes me incredibly sad. I’m interested if he’ll ever see Buffy so she can see what happened to him when she quit the Watchers Council as well; I never thought her actions could have resulted in this.
Still, I think Angel is sympathetic to Wesley, at least by the end, despite that he doesn’t ever come out and say it. Initially, though, I think Angel’s just distracted by Barney’s case. Like any Whedon show, appearances are not everything, and the giant sleight of hand that’s pulled on us concerns Barney’s motives. I genuinely believed that Barney was going to be the victim of a Kungai demon, and I really had no reason to think otherwise. (Though, I really should have paid more attention to Barney’s conversation with Cordelia. In hindsight, that was a big clue that he wasn’t being honest about himself.) In a way, I also feel Barney acts as foreshadowing for Cordelia’s character. His natural empath ability was the only thing about him that wasn’t a lie, so I’m going to guess that as Cordelia navigates life with her own gift, she might develop a nicer ability for insight. And it’s not that Cordelia’s always oblivious, as we’ve certainly seen her read a situation with her own biting fury, but she tends to do it when she’s angry or in a way that hurts another person, intended or not. Still, Barney does help her realize that her new ability was Doyle’s gift to her, something that even I hadn’t considered. It obviously re-contextualizes the opening scene with the coffee cups because now we know that Doyle really only had one meaningful thing to give her. It helped him find redemption in his own life, and perhaps she can find it in hers, despite that she insists there’s nothing she needs to redeem about herself.
I thought this was all leading to some reveal that the Kungai (and then Barney) fed off of these powers, but it was all for an auction. Which, for the record, was really weird. Actually, the idea that the hotel staff knew a bunch of demons were holding a meeting in their establishment is also kind of amazing, BUT THIS IS NOT THE POINT. First, Cordelia, YOU ARE A GENIUS. She stalls but making the bidders fight over her. Literally!!!! And then WOLFRAM & HART AGAIN. Why the fuck do they keep showing up? IS THIS SOMETHING I SHOULD PAY ATTENTION TO? Or is it just a small detail to build up the idea that demons are fully integrated into Los Angeles? Either way, all of this is upstaged by Wesley, who arrives with Angel to save Cordelia. I can’t get over how clumsy he is. I thought Buffy was bad, but I was in tears when he couldn’t pull the knife off of his leg. WHY DID YOU TAPE IT THERE? THAT’S NOT HOW THAT WORKS. Wesley, you are adorable. AND THEN CORDY KILLS HER FIRST DEMON. Oh god, I am suddenly aware of how precious my prediction for Cordelia must have been to all of you. I JUST HAD NO IDEA.
As awkward as it is, the closing scene to “Parting Gifts” is really sweet to me. The group has been hurt by the loss of Doyle, but they have to continue on. I know these things don’t last long, but this story has such a loving conclusion to it. Wesley doesn’t want to be the rogue demon hunter anymore, and you can tell he misses the company of these people, especially since they already know him. He draws out his goodbye in the desperate hope that anyone will invite him to stay. Angel may not be entirely satisfied with having Wesley around, but he invites him to stay anyway. I’m hoping that Wesley can find his place among his old friends, though I don’t know quite what that might be yet. For now, I’ll appreciate a moment of calm, and accept it for what it is.
Mark Links Stuff
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