In the fifth episode of the second season of Angel, Cordelia, Wesley, and Gunn have to deal with the return of Angel’s sire. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Angel.
Well, if this sort of storytelling carries on throughout season two, I’m pretty sure I’m going to fall in love with this show. I’ve liked Angel so far, but it feels like the entire first season was just a set-up for this. And that’s kind of cool to me! It took a year for the show to find its legs, and now we’re getting to the really good stuff. By “good stuff” I mean Angel singing karaoke and seeing The Host again, and everything else in this episode is utter garbage by comparison.
I’m kidding. But seriously, The Host is the best character on Angel. I don’t even feel like you can argue against that. Well, wait, I still have three and three quarter seasons to get through, but I don’t imagine I’ll get to a point where I don’t feel like he’s the best thing ever.
Truthfully, though, there are a lot of layers to “Dear Boy” that I was intrigued and entertained by. It’s to David Greenwalt’s credit that this story is both quite complex and takes these characters to a place I wouldn’t have ever expected. I mean, first of all, bringing Darla back making her human? Wolfram & Hart using her to bring out Angelus? Showing us the circumstances in which Drusilla was made (HOLY FUCK I’M SO DISTURBED and using it to remind us just how horrific Angelus once was? AND THEN THAT WHOLE SCENE IN THE OLD WATER TOWER? I can’t. I can’t.
It seems that this exploration of Angel’s dual nature is going to take up a large part of season two. Thankfully, this episode doesn’t portray his behavior as a positive thing, and I’m generally very happy when writers can show us that their creations are deeply flawed. Honestly, Angel is a glorious douchebag for the first half of this episode, and that’s why he falls into Darla’s trap so easily. Would he have even gotten into this mess if he’d just listened to Cordelia and Wesley? No, of course not. But as much as this is about Angel having to cope with this plot against him involving Darla, it’s just as equally about the other three members of Angel Investigations coming to terms with the newest threat of an appearance by Angelus. It’ll be interesting to see how Gunn deals with this, since he’s the only one of the trio to not know what Angelus is like. I do believe him when he says he’ll kill Angelus on the spot if he needs to, but I think the idea of loyalty might be more important to him.
In fact, I think that’s a big part of what these three characters might have to examine with themselves. Here, when Kate tries to get them to give up information about Angel, they all cross their arms, choosing their loyalty to Angel over any possible betrayal. I won’t lie. I loved that moment, and it was wonderful to see how dedicated Angel’s friends were to him. But how far does that loyalty stretch? I’m not sure how much we’ll see of that, though, because Angel very explicitly rejects Darla’s attempt to give him happiness. (I’ll touch on that more in a bit.) But if Darla is correct in stating that Angel’s “dark” side is an innate part of him, is it possible that this is what Wolfram & Hart might exploit?
There’s no real way of knowing at this point, but the potential for upcoming storylines is so ridiculous and exciting that I just want to tell you all that Mark Watches Angel is over so I can spend the next two weeks binge-watching every episode, one after the other, until I’ve not showered and I kill plants just by walking by them and my body forgets what sunlight is like and shut up I am totally normal and rational.
Oh god, Kate. I really do wish she was around more, and it doesn’t help that when she finally does appear in season two, she is AMAZING and David Greenwalt’s writing of her character is SPECTACULAR. While we’d all like to believe that Angel is totally good and doing good, I believe her character acts as a way to remind us of the unfortunate reality of Angel’s life: there are side effects. A lot of these side effects, even if entirely unintended or accidental, are still pretty horrific. I’m sure Kate knows that Angel didn’t kill her father. But all the meddling and interfering he’s done certainly hasn’t helped. It’s why she’s so quick to believe Darla. Kate knows for sure that it’s very much in Angel’s nature to presumptively interject himself into the lives of other people, so it’s entirely within reason that he would take this too far. In a way, her character is a reflection of the world that Angel lives in and the violence that follows him. Honestly? I really respect that she concerns herself with the plight of those caught in the crossfire than someone with good intentions.
I’m a bit unsure of what Lindsey and the rest of Wolfram & Hart want from Angel when it comes to their plans. Turning Angel evil does get him off their back in one way, so I understand that. But seriously, do they really know who Angelus is? Like, do they get who he used to be? He turned Drusilla into a vampire so she could BE TORMENTED WITH HER MENTAL ILLNESS FOR THE REST OF ETERNITY. For real, do they know what can of worms they are opening? Angelus would find a way to trick and then slaughter everyone at Wolfram & Hart. Still, I knew that this wasn’t made clear on purpose, so I just shut up and enjoyed what I was experiencing. I was completely and utterly confused as to why Darla was living this other life, and I even entertained the notion that she had a real human double around, too, since we’d only seen her in the Wolfram & Hart offices and Angel’s place. Why would she have a husband? What possible purpose would that serve?
And then I got the set-up and then the set-up hurt to watch and then the set-up made me yell at my screen because ANGEL WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING YOU ARE WALKING INTO A TRAP and then the set-up made me frustrated because how the hell was Angel going to get out of this one?Oh, he’s going to do this by hanging in a tree like a bat and kidnapping Darla and then giving us THE VERY BEST-ACTED SCENE IN ANGEL SO FAR??? No shame or apologies, I think every second of the scene underneath the water tower is just perfection, from the uncomfortable opening where we’re led to believe that Angel is ready to turn out of his love for Darla to the INCREDIBLY LAYERED reactions from both of them when Angel says that Darla couldn’t have made him happy as Angelus. I started off just shaking my head, saying, “ANGEL, YOU ARE MAKING BAD DECISION. Why can’t you just listen to The Host? WHEN HAS HE EVER BEEN WRONG?” But then he quickly subverts Darla’s entire plan with his admission that he was never truly happy as Angelus. The shock and heartbreak that Julie Benz portrays is proof enough that she deserves ALL THE AWARDS and should appear in ALL THE EPISODES.
But it also introduces something I wouldn’t have thought of in a million years: Darla finding her own redemption. Angel kept saying that Darla would come to remember and know what she did, but I didn’t necessarily believe him. Even if she was human, she was still the same person with the same penchant for violence and evil. But she’s human now, and that means she possesses a soul. Even if she’s 100% resistant to it at this point, it’s not an impossible idea that she could turn sides, right? Oh my god, what if she joined Angel Investigations??? ADDING JULIE BENZ TO THE TEAM WOULD BE SO PERFECT.
But I’m serious, that scene alone made this episode on of my favorites. I just wanted to high five David Greenwalt for this line:
“You see, no matter how good a boy you are, God doesn’t want you! But I still do.”
I can’t. It’s so clever and perfect and painful and this episode has given me so many feelings. Oh, Darla, you just got a million times more interesting as a character, and I can’t wait to see more.
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