In the sixteenth episode of the second season of Angel, Angel comes to the realization that he’s really goddamn awful. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Angel.
There are a lot of things I’d like to talk about, but can I just get one thing out of the way?
OH MY GOD, ALL MY BABIES ARE TOGETHER AGAIN. I JUST WANT TO HUG THEM AND NEVER LET GO OH MY GOD.
I’m glad that Angel’s epiphany is not just outright accepted, and I think it would have been highly disingenuous of the show to ignore how his friends felt about him. As uncomfortable as it is to watch everything that happens here, it’s necessary. This character arc for Angel has been about how close he is to giving into his nihilistic side and how that affects the people in his life. There’s a remarkably tender and quiet moment near the end of this episode between Cordelia and Angel. After everything that’s happened, Cordelia sums it all up in a brutally honest way: Angel hurt her feelings. While that may seem like a childish way to phrase this, I actually thought it was a painfully vulnerable admission. When it comes down to it, Angel betrayed his friends in such a personal, hurtful way, and it’s the reason they don’t automatically trust him.
But before we even get to this much-needed moment, the end of the last Angel episode is finally explained: Angel has a moment of clarity after having sex with Darla. It was kind of neat how much this episode mirrored “Innocence,” though I’m really concerned about the ramifications of this in terms of Darla. God, what a complex character. She came to kill Angel, but then hoped that giving him a night of perfect happiness would rid him of his soul. Her miscalculation, though, was what gave Angel a night of perfect despair. Despite that Darla doesn’t exactly do good things, I’m still concerned for her, and I felt kind of bad seeing how detached and distant she was in Lindsey’s apartment. This might have been a great event for Angel, but it’s not for her.
It’s important to put this in the context of Angel’s final conversation with Kate, though. After getting a glimpse of the Home Office, Angel comes to a highly existential conclusion: there is no “grand scheme.” Even if there are Powers That Be, how can they truly affect the endless cycle of evil, malice, greed, and suffering? The world will keep turning, and the Hell that Angel glimpsed will always be there. Why, then, should he allow this emptiness to inspire him to hurt others? Why is he hurting himself?
But coming to this epiphany is not the solution. He has to act on it, and that’s the bulk of what “Epiphany” shows us. This realization doesn’t mean anything if it just remains in Angel’s head. So he saves Kate, knowing that he’s had a part in her downfall. He makes an effort to seek out The Host, even if it’s in the hope of an easy answer. (Spoiler alert, Angel: this ain’t gonna be an easy journey for you, and that’s totally your fault.) And then he goes after his friends to save their lives. Of course, he does go about things in the wrong way initially, though I didn’t expect anything different from someone as awkward and stubborn as Angel. The man will fight any thing or anyone anywhere, but he’ll avoid an emotional, interpersonal confrontation like it’s an infectious disease. So it wasn’t the least bit surprising that he relied on terrible jokes in an attempt to get Wesley to warm up to the idea that his epiphany was real. He seriously doesn’t like conflict, does he?
I legit felt terrible that Cordelia was impregnated by a demon again. Man, can we retire this trope? It’s rarely used in a fascinating way, though I did like the way this was all tied in with the events of “Reprise.” Those damn Skilosh demons were creepy as hell, and it was the perfect chance to re-introduce Angel into the mix. Again, I’m really satisfied that the writers constantly had the characters openly confront Angel. I don’t blame any of them! How can they truly trust him? How do they know that any appearance of Lindsey or Lilah or Darla won’t send Angel right back to the place he was before?
Well, that’s addressed as well. Yeah, so, can I just say that the fight between Lindsey and Angel was one of the most horrific things I’ve seen on this show? The sheer brutality and raw emotion was so difficult to watch. Lindsey’s fury at being scorned by Darla got the best of him, and he allowed his jealousy to take over his thoughts. Ugh A SLEDGEHAMMER TO THE FACE. My god. AND THEN ANGEL CRUSHES HIS PROSTHETIC HAND. what the fuck is this show doing to me.
And yet, even after saving all of his friends and demonstrating that, at least for the moment, he is dependable, Angel knows that this isn’t the only thing he needs to do. I absolutely LOVE the end of “Epiphany” because it’s what I’ve needed to see Angel do. First of all, I needed him to say “I’m sorry,” and mean it. I think all three of his friends needed that, too. But I think it’s even more significant that Angel doesn’t offer them back their old jobs, preferring to relinquish control to show that he’s serious about helping them. Oh my god, Angel works for them, and this is beautiful, and I am just so excited to see where this is going to go.
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