Cordelia Chase -
Wesley Wyndham Price -
Kate Lockley -
OTHER DEVILISH SHOWS
Angel is a vampire, the worst there ever was, until he was cursed by gypsies, recovered his soul and learned the true cost of what he had done. Then he met a girl who showed him the path to redemption, but she could also be the cause of his losing his sould all over again, so he left and came to Los Angeles to fight for good against evil, to help people and perhaps regain his humanity.
Don't worry, all of this is covered in a couple of minutes in the first episode City Of, so you don't have to have watched the first three seasons of BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER to be up with what's happening. The show has its own life, its own style - much darker than its parent programme - although it does borrow half of its cast.
As a spin-off, it doesn't suffer from having to set up every detail of its background, but at least fills enough in to allow new viewers not to feel left out too much. There are crossover episodes that prove distracting, but on the whole don't detract too much.
David Boreanaz is easily capable of carrying the show with skilful support from the rest of the cast. The stories all orbit around problems of living in big, impersonal cities - although with added demons and stuff.Top
Angel fights demons and vampires in Los Angeles, but he has set himself apart from those that he is helping. This makes him more susceptible to the draw of their blood. Half-demon Doyle offers him a chance to regain his humanity. Doyle receives messages from The Powers That Be, messages that trash his head, but provide clues for Angel to help people. He fails to save a girl called Tina from a powerful vampire, but learns that the demon has his eyes set on a new target, a woman who is only too familiar to Angel.
The set up for the series is over and done with in ten minutes and after that it's straight into the plot. It's hard to make it in the city and girls setting out have few friends. That makes them easy prey for those that would prey on them. OK, making it a vampire is a heavy-handed metaphor, but one that works well enough in the context of the show. There's plenty of action and it's really nice to see Charisma Carpenter as Cordelia.
ANGEL hits the ground running.Top
It's hard to find love in the big, bad city. Hell, it's hard enough to make a connection. when Doyle gets a vision of a bar, Angel investigates. It's a singles place and the patrons are in the habit of being eviscerated. Angel meets Kate, a woman who turns out to be a cop also on the trail of the killer. He becomes her main suspect, but how can he explain that it's really a burrowing demon passing from body to body?
Once again, the subtext isn't exactly hard to locate, but once again it really doesn't matter. Elisabeth Rohm is a welcome presence as Detective Kate Lockley, both strong and vulnerable and a potential love interest for Angel. The special effects are a bit gorier than BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER, which gives the story a bit more of an edge. The humour works consistently in contrast to the drama and horror.
In only two episodes it feels like ANGEL has settled into its groove quite nicely.Top
In The Dark
Oz, a friend from Angel and Cordelia's days in Sunnydale pays a visit and brings with him the gem of Amarra, a ring that makes the vampire wearing it unkillable. Spike, one of Angel's pack when he was a bad vampire, has followed the ring and brought with him a master of torture to find out its location from Angel.
This is the first direct crossover episode with ANGEL's parent show BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER and a direct sequel to The Harsh Light of Day in which Spike unearthed the ring in Sunnydale only for the slayer to take it off him. That was a bright and breezy episode full of funny one-liners and interplay between Spike and his then-girlfriend Harmony. This is an altogther darker affair, helping to mark the difference between the two shows. Whilst BUFFY takes place in the California sunshine, ANGEL moves in the shadows of night-time Los Angeles.
The torture scenes that Angel undergoes are much more graphic and brutal than anything seen on the parent show and genuinely unsettling. Though he acts tough, there is no masking the real pain that he is suffering and the pokers punched through arms and legs speak of real torture.
It's a shame that we're only three episodes in and we've got a crossover episode. It's almost as if the creators don't have faith in their new show and want to drag in the fans of the old series and make them feel at home. Maybe they should have let the show stand on its own a little longer before playing the slayer card.Top
I Fall To Pieces
A woman being stalked by a doctor who seems to know a good deal more about her, and Angel, than he ought to be able to know, almost as though he was spying on her, but in places where he could not possibly go. Then she is assaulted by a disembodied hand and Angel learns of a discipline that allows its practitioners to split off body parts and control them remotely.
There is something deeply creepy about the villain of this week's episode and his ability to float his body parts around. The levitating eye is especially unnerving. It is, of course, a metaphor for the violation of the voyeur, the vulnerability to the stalker and the fear of the victim in waiting. This inherent 'yuk factor helps with the fact that the doctor, once revealed, is not a real match for a very angry vampire.Top
Rm w/a Vu
Cordelia's feelings of inadequacy and failure get wrapped up in her search for a new apartment. Doyle sets her up with her dream place, but it turns out to be haunted by a woman who is desperate to keep Cordelia away from her dark secret.
This is a scary story on two sepearate levels. Firstly there is the old ghost's attempts to scare and, eventually, kill Cordelia. More scary, however is the truth behind what happened in the apartment, an evil so utterly domestic and banal that it is all the scarier for it.Top
Sense and Sensitivity
Detective Lockley asks for Angel's help in tracking down a top mobster. In order to spring the man, legal firm Wolfram and Hart set up sensitivity training that turns all the cops into emotional wrecks and hands the wweapons to the bad guys.
ANGEL has clearly inherited the imagination of its parent programme. The idea of using sensitivity training to wipe out the precinct is so off-base it's brilliant. And seeing both Angel and Lockley (neither known as the most demonstrative types) giving full range with therapist nonsense terminology is immense fun. The fact that the expected connection between Kate and her father at the end does not go as planned is to the credit of the writers.Top
Just as Doyle is starting to make an impact on Cordelia, his wife shows up and asks him for a divorce so that she can marry a new demon. When he agrees to that the new groom invites him to the bachelor party, but forgets to mention that the celebrations will climax with the eating of the first husband's brain.
This is a fun, though inconsequential, episode. The team of Angel, Cordelia and Doyle has really gelled by this point so they make the most of the banter and the smart dialogue.Top
I Will Remember You
Buffy comes to Los Angeles to challenge Angel over his visit to Sunnydale when he did not even let her know he was there (see BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER episode Pangs). A demon attacks and its blood makes Angel human once again. He gets to spend a perfect day with Buffy and there suddenly appears to be a future for them both, but when the demon is reborn, Angel makes a decision that only he will remember.
This is a really moving episode of ANGEL|, but only if you have watched the first three seasons of BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER. You need to have the history between these two characters in order to fully understand what the day means to them and what the decision made by Angel to take the day back means to him. The acting by David Boreanaz and, especially, Sarah Michelle Gellar, is the best work that they have done on these two shows and just proves that there is more here than just monster killing.Top
A group of peaceful demons come through the city looking for a refuge. They are being chased down by a band of powerful demons who are set on the rise of pure-blood demons and the destruction of all half-breeds such as Angel and Doyle. The team set a trap for these demons, but it will need the sacrifice of a life to make it work.
Racial purity is a tough subject to tackle, but ANGEL does it really well, but not bothering. It shows the racial purists as evil, ugly demons and that, let's face it, is what racial purists are. Instead, it gets on with telling a story and handing out the first real shock of the series, the death of a very major character. This is something that BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER has never really dared to do and it sets out the spin-off as its own creature truly for the first time.
It's an act of sacrifice and it could have been overplayed into pathos, but the writing and the playing are such that it keeps the right side of schmaltz and proves to be quite affecting. After this, nothing can be taken granted again.Top
Both Angel and Cordelia are wracked with guilt over the death of Doyle. A new client, an empath demon, comes into the office and wants help to rid him of a powerful creature chasing him. The creature turns out to be someone known to the team, but not everything is quite what it seems and when Cordelia starts to get the same mind-crushing visions as Doyle her life is put in great danger.
Wesley Wyndham-Price comes back into Angel and Cordelia's lives and brings with him a sense of wit and lightness that has been missing from the show to date. Another crossover with BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER to be sure, but a not unwelcome one. He immediately makes the show a lighter, brighter one. Of course, those who haven't come across him before won't know the significance and very little of their past association is revealed here. Even so, this is a smart and very funny episode.Top
Three women have been killed, drained of blood in a distinctly vampirical style. Whilst investigating, Angel realises that this is a vampire that he sired and who has come back to revenge himself on Angel.
A straightforward action episode that is given a bit of extra depth by Detective Lockley finding out the truth about Angel at last. Once again, the writers show their maturity by giving her a response that isn't the expected one, but a more realistic and complex one. It's on this emotional complexity that ANGEL outstrips the show that sired it.Top
Cordelia finds a man that she really likes and invites him to spend the night. Next morning she wakes up heavily pregnant, but with what. Angel goes in search of the errant father.
Dating in the city is hell, a principle that was covered in Lonely Hearts, but this takes it one step further. There is early fun as Wesley completely fails to cope with the pregnancy (as with all comedy 'fathers') and a priceless moment where Angel learns just how disgusting it looks when he drinks blood, but the darker tone sets in quickly before being utterly undermined by a totally unconvincing giant demon.Top
When a man burns to death in an ice house, Angel investigates a female demon with the ability to channel electricity, a demon who fights her own kind in defence of the innocent. In order to help, Angel asks Wesley to join the team.
This is a pretty straight action adventure with no surprises, a bit of action and hints of romance. What really makes this one memorable, though, are Wesley and Angel's dance moves. They are so brilliantly awful that they are even reprised under the end credits. They alone are not to be missed.Top
Iíve Got You Under My Skin
Cordelia's vision leads Angel to a family with one member possessed by a demon. With Wesley's aid, he attempts an exorcism, but the demon released is even more powerful than the boy possessed.
This is the movie THE EXORCIST done Angel style. Many of the scenes are direct rip offs, but there is a twist in the tale that makes up for the earlier cribbing.Top
Angel gets into a tangle with a demon that is normally completely passive. Blood tests suggest that the creature was drugged. Angel discovers that Detective Lockley's father is being duped into being a courier for the demon drug and has reached the end of his usefulness to the bad guys.
This would be a dull and not very interesting episode were it not for the fact that it is Detective Lockley's father who is involved. Her relationship with him has always been strained and her relationship with Angel hasn't been a bed of roses either. This episode makes matters even more complex. The flashbacks into Angel's past also show his own difficult relationship with his father. It's a heavy-handed tactic that the show really doesn't need, but which happens to be more interesting and fun than anything that's happening in the present.Top
A brother hires Angel to find his brother, but proves to be setting him up to be captured and forced to provide entertainment in the form of gladiatorial combat against other demons. Wesley and Cordelia are his only hope of escape.
Ah the old forced gladiatorial combat episode. So many science fiction shows have used this (STAR TREK, ALIEN NATION and TORCHWOOD all spring to mind without even trying) and ANGEL makes no changes to the familiar format. He tries not to kill and to get the uninterested demons to band together to fight there oppressors. The demons continue to fight each other until.....well, you know the rest.Top
When Angel saves a famous actress whose career is on the skids from several attacks on her life she discovers his secret and asks him to turn her into a vampire as well. In order to get him more in the mood, she slips him a drug that simulates a sense of bliss. Under its influence, Angel reverts to his evil Angelus persona and sets about the hunting of the actress, Wesley and Cordelia.
Fame is fleeting and there is nothing more so than fame at an early age. Growing old is a specific fear in the acting community of Los Angeles and these two fears form the core of the episode. Cordelia's reaction to the presence of a star is the funny part of the story and Charisma Carpenter makes the most of it, but things really get into motion when Angel turns bad and becomes a more fun character.Top
Five By Five
The Wolfram and Hart law firm are getting fed up of Angel meddling in their affairs and hire a very special person to rid them of him - rogue slayer Faith. There's history between them, though, and Angel is less keen on a confrontation than he is, so she takes Wesley prisoner.
Yet another BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER crossover episode, but this one is too good to carp about that. Faith (for her background check out season three of BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER) is too fabulous a character to waste and it is great to Eliza Dushku going all out. Faith's on the edge, strung out, and she conveys that really well, playing up both the false bravado and the emotional collapse.
To support this there are flashbacks to Angel's past in Romania in which we see some of the events just prior to and just after he was cursed with his soul. He is a being who has been as low as it is possible to go and that is why he can understand and empathise with Faith, making him the only one that can reach her.Top
Angel has taken the rogue slayer Faith into his home to try and straighten her out a little. He is no stranger to the kind of despair and darkness that fills her and so is uniquely qualified to help. Unfortunately, the Watchers' Council don't agree and have sent an elite squad to detain her. Angel's ex-girlfriend and the current Slayer turns up to take revenge on Faith for past misdeeds and the police want her for murder. Angel must try to keep them all at bay and encourage her to stop running.
This is ANGEL at its most mature. The relationship between Angel and Faith has depths that have only been hinted at in other pairings and that makes it easier to connect and empathise with the characters.
Of course, for this to work at its best the audience needs to know about the history between Buffy and Angel and Faith. Without that, much of the insight is lost and the episode becomes much less effective.Top
Whilst Angel is carrying out a lucrative case for a client, he strays into the middle of a war between a group of street kids and a nest of vampires. The kids have been fighting for survival for a long time, but this time the vampires decide to take care of the problem once and for all.
In any conflict there are casualties and when the conflict gets personal then the casualties hurt all the more. This is a strangely pointless episode that introduces two sides of a conflict and then doesn't resolve the conflict, creating instead only an anticlimactic state of truce. It feels like the opening salvo in a story that is set to come back at some stage in the future, if only to give it a point.Top
When a blind assassin is given the assignment to murder some gifted children, Wolfram and Hart stalwart Lindsay comes to Angel and asks for help in getting out of the firm. Angel offers his help in exchange for files from the Wolfram and Hart vault and a daring robbery is staged, one that could cost Lindsay his life.
This is an altogether different kind of story for ANGEL. The focus is on Lindsay and on the inner workings of Wolfram and Hart. The firm has been lurking in the background as the major enemy in Angel's life, but only now is it beginning to emerge from the fringes and take a more active part in the plotting. The mind games are clever and subtle and much more entertaining than the usual 'demon of the week' stuff. It also comes to a conclusion that is unexpected, but actually all the more satisfying.Top
To Shanshu in LA
The scroll that Angel took from the vault of Wolfram and Hart turns out to contain a prophecy regarding a vampire with a soul and his part in the dark futures ahead. A demon brought forth to carry out a 'raising' needs to reclaim the scroll and does so through attacks on Angel's support structure. Cordelia is given unending visions, Wesley is attacked physically and the oracles are murdered. Angel decides that it is time to take the fight to the lawyers.
It's the final episode of the first series and it's a cracking way to go out. The story puts the humans in deadly danger, gives Angel a worthy opponent and the chance to take part in a really impressive fight before the show gives us a final twist to savour for the second season.Top
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