Previously: Wesley impersonated Angel and got laid doing it, so snaps for you. Angel met a murderous fake swami who pointed out important issues like, “Why would a vampire own a convertible in LA?”
Sweeney: Between today’s Buffy crossover magic and the fact that six episodes of Angel have already taught me that I knew nothing of Darla’s excellence from watching Buffy, this episode title has me legit excited already. It begins with Angel sketching Darla (hooray for the Angel/art ship!) and while I know a title like this will earn someone a proper gold star eventually, I give Angel’s sketch pad an honorable mention.
Lorraine: I think “Angel’s sketch pad” is the best almost gold star we’ve ever given. Good job.
Kirsti: A+. Also, Angel/art OTP.
Sweeney: Angel/Art is my OTP too. Look at us, agreeing on the important issues!
Wesley stands awkwardly in the doorway as Angel tries to make him go away by ignoring him, but Wes isn’t having it because they need to talk about the fact that Angel’s floor is now littered with these crazy sketches. Honorable mention for Angel’s floor, too! (L: Okay, don’t get crazy now.)
The episode’s namesake is sitting in Lindsey’s office, looking a depressed mess. Lindsey enters to find the office trashed and Darla’s wrists covered with stab marks. (K: I feel the need to point out that she got these from smashing a mirror, which explains a lot of what’s to come in the future) He inspects her wounds and says that they sent her to him too soon. Darla asks Lindsey about himself, before going all crazybabble about Angel. She says that after everything that happens they’ve now become something much worse than enemies: they’re soul mates. She laughs to tell us this episode’s going to be good. Roll electric cellos.
Sweeney: After the credits we cut to 1609, which is honestly a bit later than I had assumed Darla was created. She’s in bed dying, surrounded by a few attendants, and sporting some death makeup that makes Faith’s coma makeup seem stunning. She wants the windows closed because STFU sun. After that, we hear the familiar voice of THE MASTER promising her that she’ll not see that sun again (LOL, cute) though we don’t see his face as he’s covered in priest’s robes. He’s also there to quickly give us some bonus back story: Darla was a prostitute in her pre-vamp days.
Lor: Who the hell would’ve ever guessed that THE MASTER! would warrant capslock? All it took was a sucky season 4 of Buffy, an Angel spinoff, and a sprinkling of crossover magic. Welcome back, ole fruit punch mouth!
K: 1430 to you, Lor. Although I will admit that my notes say “MARK METCALF!!!”, so I was equally excited to see him. But mostly because I’d forgotten all about this episode existing.
Sweeney: He asks if she’s ready to renounce Satan and Darla says that God has never done anything for her. The Master makes everyone leave so that he can “save her soul.” Darla jokes that the devil can have her now because she’ll be dead either way. They chat some more and she’s totally unspooked when he reveals his gross face and fruit punch mouth. He gets his bite on.
K: To be fair, she’s dying of syphilis, so her brain’s a little worse for wear.
Sweeney: I was initially confused by this comment, as I generally thought Darla was dying like a BAMF, but yes, there’s also the syphilis rotting her brain. True.
Back at Brooding HQ, Angel is urging the team to get with the Darla hunting as Cordelia and Wesley try to talk him out of it. Angel tries to insist that detecting the shit out of things is what they do and what they’re good at it. Cordelia’s all LOL, “That’s what we suck at.” Preach, girl. “Let’s face it: unless there’s a website called www.OhByTheWayWeHaveDarlaStashedHere.com we’re pretty much out of luck.” Wesley’s suppressed laughter is adorable.
Lor: And where was this episode when we were thinking up website names, eh?
K: I love when they do stuff like that. Like Willow’s “What’s his number? Oh yeah, 1800-I’m-Dating-a-Skanky-Ho” in regards to Xander and Cordy’s relationship in season 2 of Buffy.
Sweeney: Gunn standing in the background points out that they have to put Darla up somewhere and a law firm has undoubtedly figured out a way to write that off. (K: Gunn is the best. Also, does this count as foreshadowing???) (S: NEITHER ONE OF US CAN ANSWER THAT.) Cordelia and Wesley go into research mode and Angel mentions Darla’s love of places with a view to segue magic us back to 1760, when he is meeting The Master for the first time. Darla brags about Angelus and his conquests.
Angelus doesn’t get the whole living in the sewers thing and The Master boats about the Order of Aurelius laying waste to the earth. The Awfully Accented One goes on to ask why he’d want to do that. His point is about how things are pretty up above the sewers, though it’s another reminder of the end of BtVS S2, when Spike is concerned with Angelus destroying the world that he is generally quite fond of. Anyway, Angelus continues to offend The Master (and his horrendous face) and Darla tries to downplay his comments. The Master tosses Angelus across the room and beats him up a bit as he urges Darla to come with him, because he’ll give her everything.
The Master thinks he’s won, as he made Darla, but he can’t see Darla’s smitten expression behind him. When he does wise up, he lets them go, saying that it won’t last and he gives them a century, tops.
K: LOL. I wonder if The Master was secretly thrilled at how accurate his guess was further down the track.
Sweeney: Back in the present, Angel’s reading up on Darla and realizes that her name — which means “dear one” — would have been given to her by The Master. Wesley, meanwhile, is still urging Angel to give this up. He suggests that W&H’s objective in bringing Darla back was to keep Angel distracted; if that’s the case, it’s working.
Back at Lindsey’s office, Holland enters and asks for a private word with Lindsey. Holland says that they didn’t want Darla on the premises now that she’s made contact, and Lindsey tries to tell Holland about her suicidal streak. Holland already knows, though he thought it was coming later. He says they’ll be speeding things up and that Lindsey did the right thing, adding that he should keep sharp stuff away from her. Lindsey makes “DAFUQ?” face, leaving the viewer to wonder if he’s new around her or some shit.
Lor: To be fair, the Zoomy Camera Man was all up in his grill. Maybe he was giving him the DAFUQ face.
Sweeney: In 1880 London, Darla and Angelus are discussing their latest kill while Drusilla whines about being lonely. She also hilariously calls Darla grandmother, which she does not appreciate.
Sweeney: YES. AGREED. I don’t even care about the atrocity that is the accents and wigs, I could watch these flashback scenes all day. Angelus encourages Drusilla to make a playmate of her own, and they bump into WILLIAM THE BLOODY as he storms off from his party! Drusilla watches longingly as he runs off. This was some extra delightful crossover magic, because they include this scene in the Buffy version, but it’s easy to miss that it’s them if you didn’t already know. A+ for everyone.
Lor: I KNEW IT. I mostly recognized that terrible wig but I didn’t want to say anything because everyone is always calling me Lor Snow. My main point is that THIS WAS SO MUCH FUN.
K: Agreed. I hereby award all the things to Whedon because this crossover magic was spectacular. ESPECIALLY when you add in the fact that Fool for Love was written by Douglas Petrie, while Darla was written by Tim Minear. To make the crossover this flawless when you’ve got completely different writers? Genius. (Added fun fact? Douglas Petrie also wrote the screenplay for Harriet the Spy)
Sweeney: Those are indeed facts that are fun!
Back at Brooding HQ, Cordelia has found Darla’s location. Angel tries to tell her she doesn’t have enough information, and she reveals that she got her Veronica Mars on, getting confirmation by lying to the property manager about her missing sister. Angel smiles and snatches the address up, but Wesley intervenes, so that he and Gunn can go and they can all proceed with caution. Cordelia mentions that the address is in Sun Valley. Angel’s all, “LOL, sun” and Cordelia’s all, “No, valley! Ew.” I mention this only because Sun Valley is like The Valley of The Valley, a place that fully merits Cordelia’s, “Why would you go there if you don’t have to?”
Darla, meanwhile is looking out Lindsey’s window AT THE VIEW! She’s a little confused when Lindsey enterounces her name. She says it sounds strange, as it wasn’t her name the first time she was human, though she doesn’t even remember what that name was. She asks Lindsey what they brought back, what she is – “The girl whose name I can’t remember? Or did you bring back something else? The other thing?” He nonanswers and she asks why he hasn’t kissed her, since she never hesitated when she wanted something. “Life’s too short. Believe me, I know. 400 years, and still too short.” With that, they kiss, briefly interrupted by her existential commentary about how they’re using her to get to Angel, and definitively cut off when she bites Lindsey’s neck hard enough to leave some serious marks when he won’t answer her question of what she is.
K: SRSLY. Lindsey needs to learn about Barney Stinson’s Hot/Crazy scale. Because Darla is totally in the Shelly Gillespie Zone…
Sweeney: Lindsey tries to tell Darla that he understands what she’s going through. That’s generally more annoying than comforting to people going through serious shit, but in this particular scenario that comment is pure bullshit and Darla says as much. She says she can feel this soul killing her.
With that, we segue magic back to Romania in 1898. She’s confronting the gypsy who cursed Angelus with a soul.
Lor: The Drusilla/Darla magic continues in this episode. Mostly, Darla’s reactions to everything Drusilla does is fantastic.
Sweeney: YES. Darla’s facial expressions are all gold.
K: Agreed. But this scene felt totally weird. Knowing that the gypsies had the power to curse Angel with a soul, why the hell would you go over there and be like “Hey, I’m also an evil vampire who may have contributed to the death of your daughter. It’d be really great if you could take away his pesky soul, because it’s getting in the way of our murdery funtimes?” That just seems moronic to me. That said, this scene was totally worth it for Dru’s “He shall be very cross if he finds we had a lovely mass slaughter without him.” I have further problems with this, because we established back in School Hard that Spike didn’t know about Angel having a soul, and yet HE WAS THERE WHEN IT HAPPENED. Either Darla pulled one HELL of a cover-up, or I should just write this off as a continuity problem and be done with it.
Sweeney: I’m 50/50 on what you’ve just said here. A solid +1 to the “Darla, this plan is stupid,” though I’ll cut her an inch of slack and blame the stupid on her grief/rage/feels, but yes, stupid. That said, it doesn’t seem inconsistent to me. Look at Spike in this scene and in both versions of the Boxer Rebellion events. How many fucks does he give what Angel is up to? He made it clear in FFL that he was obsessed with slayer murder by this time, and it doesn’t seem far-fetched to suppose that this obsession (and crazy sex times with Dru) were full-time occupations of his. Plus, why would he even consider vampire-soul-acquisition a thing (especially since knew so little that he’d only semi-recently learned about the slayer)? I don’t know if there is a future piece that I either don’t know or am forgetting, but it seems plausible that Darla ditched them around this time and returned to the Master and what reason would Spike have to know/suspect the why on this? This is a lot more sidebar speculation than I usually feel like getting into, but I’m just saying that this doesn’t feel like a continuity issue to me.
Back at Brooding HQ, Gunn and Wesley are showing the other two Darla’s destroyed apartment, which they’re convinced she did herself. She smashed all the mirrors and only Angel seems to see the reason why as obvious. (Meh. I think Wesley’s cleverer and more empathetic than this, but fine, show, I get why you’re downplaying that now.) She’s destroying all the mirrors because of the weight of this new “soul” thing — unlike Angel, she has to see herself in all the mirrors.
Angel and Wesley continue to bicker about how to proceed and ignore Cordelia trying to tell him that there’s a call for him. He finally takes the call when Cordelia starts to hang up on the caller — Darla. She asks Angel where she was, as she doesn’t recall going to any sort of hell. Angel assures her that there are, indeed, a few hells. Darla says that he’s the only one who understands (true), and adds that it’s been four centuries since she’s had to be afraid of anything. This was a nice callback to Spike’s comment about how slayers are the only thing vampires have to fear. (No mention of sunlight, crosses, and holy water, but whatever.)
K: To be fair, sunlight, crosses and holy water are unlikely to chase a vampire down, and are generally not carried around by members of the public.
Sweeney: A very fair point.
As Darla is asking Angel to help her, we see Lindsey entering the office and telling Darla to put the phone down. A security guard just happens to appear seconds later, though Lindsey tries to make him go but he doesn’t. Eventually Darla knocks Lindsey out cold with the phone. We cut to Angel still listening in and hear a gunshot.
After a Not Commercial Break, Lindsey is being shown footage of her escape and reprimanded for facilitating her escape. Holland says the guard’s death has been Wolfram & Hart handled, and though they found Darla two blocks up the street, Lindsey is being taken off the project because it’s being terminated.
Cut to Angel setting off to handle this on his own because of reasons. Wesley’s still trying to talk him out of it, though Angel says that he knows what she’s going through (again!) and adds that she might, unlike him, not have to go through it alone. Cordelia’s defensive, “You’re not alone,” followed by a lovely, extended exchange of feelstastic looks between the two of them as Wesley keeps talking makes for a wonderful little moment.
K: I was mostly distracted by Cordy’s suddenly gigantic hair…
Sweeney: I was distracted by it earlier in the episode too. I don’t even understand. I guess she got shitty hair in flashback solidarity?
Wesley points out that Angel wandered for 100 years without ever seeking redemption. Angel’s response, “That’s right; I sought her,” segue magics us back to China in 1900. Pause for another moment of appreciating the excellence of this crossover magic. When I got to this scene in Fool For Love I was SO confused as to why Angel was there because even though I couldn’t remember the year Angel got his soul, I thought it was 18something and didn’t get why he was with the gang in 1900. I let it go, though, assuming that I just had my dates wrong and was too lazy to look it up. More on this in a second.
We see Darla in another totally awesome HBIC wig, and a very gross Angel sneaks up and puts his dirty nasty hands all over her pretty face. She threatens to kill him and he tells her to go ahead, but she can’t do it. He says he’s there to make things like what they were because soul or not, he’s still a vampire and can be what he was if she lets him prove it. “We can have the whirlwind back.” They kiss.
In the Wolfram & Hart parking garage, Lindsey is making a call as he walks to his car. Angel appears behind him with some conveniently placed torture-hanging rope, demanding Darla’s whereabouts.
Lor: I’d like to think Angel took some time out of his very busy schedule to arrange the torture rope himself. Yeah.
Sweeney: Lindsey can’t really speak to answer, so he holds up his cellphone so that Angel can hear that Lindsey was calling Angel’s office. A little more torturing info out of Lindsey, who gives Angel an address he can’t confirm, but assumes they’ll take Darla there to get their murder on.
Back in 1900 China, Angel is wandering the streets looking for Darla when he happens upon a family of missionaries with a crying baby. He lets them go and runs off to find Darla, keeping her from going back to the alley where they family is. Then we get the post-slayer-murder scene we saw in Fool For Love. Continuing my earlier comments: they are heavily playing up Angel brood in this scene. I assumed (and was relieved when Kirsti said the same) that this was just, “Damn, you killed a slayer and I didn’t!” brood. As with before, this is downright crossover genius because it allows us to see the same scene in different ways. I love this. I sincerely hope that even non-Angel Buffy watchers add this episode to their rotation, because it’s such a wonderful companion to Fool For Love.
Lor: AAACK. I didnt’ even catch the date over on Fool For Love, so this was all kinds of magical. Even the line at the end where he’s all, “let’s get out of here,” says so much more now that we know he was souled.
K: Seriously. I’ve seen Fool For Love about 20 times, and have NEVER picked up on the fact that the Boxer Rebellion took place after that whole pesky re-ensouling thing. This really IS crossover genius, and it fills things out so much more watching the two episodes in parallel.
Sweeney: We once again get the dramatic villain walk that everyone loves so much. Sorry not sorry: it’s still hilarious to me. This one was even funnier because we got extended shots of Angel’s terrible wig billowing in the wind.
Lor: His hair was his first coat. It’s adorbs. AND HILARIOUS.
K: I will agree that the Billowy Hair of Pain slow-mo was hilarious. But I will never admit defeat on Spike’s barrel jump.
Sweeney: I accept that Traumateers will defend 99.9% of Spike’s actions for the rest of forever. I love you all for it.
Darla voiceovers, “Are you with me, Angel? Why aren’t you with me?” as she is being thrown from a van at gun point. After a Not Commercial Break, we flashback again, to Darla asking where Angel has been. She says he was probably feeding on vermin, and adds that the only men she has seen him kill are evil-doers. In order to prove that he is what he was, she’s going to make the baby he found before.
As she orders him to act, we segue magic to Angel’s car pulling into the basement (garage?) of W&H murder. He jumps out and gets his fight on, quickly taking out the three white jumpsuited assassins. Why are their murder uniforms white? Is there enough bleach in the world for that?
Back at Wolfram & Hart, Lindsey spots Holland talking to the guard he thought was dead and quickly puts together that he’s been mindfucked by Wolfram & Hart again. Holland explains that the bullshit was necessary because of reasons and now Darla and Angel believe the threat was real and Angel will do his thing and try to save Darla’s soul. This whole Darla thing has proven to be the most convoluted villain plan in the history of villain plans. WHAT ARE YOU DOING? There are so many places for this plan to fail and I still don’t entirely get the point.
Lor: But weee! Darla! And wigs! And.. and, yeah, fuck it. Worst murder plot ever.
K: Seriously. If the aim of the game was to kill Angel, why not just have someone else use the Magic Purple Powder to keep him asleep, and then STAKE HIM? And if the aim was to screw with his mind, why not make him dream that he was with Buffy? Not only would it be more effective, but that pesky soul would have disappeared pretty damned fast, and then you’ve got Angelus on hand, who’d probably be happy to join the W&H fold. In short, I don’t think they thought this one through properly…
Sweeney: This is just a small, small sampling of this plan’s failings. We could do this shit all day.
Back at Brooding HQ, it is suggested that Darla be taken to a hospital. LOL, dealing with actual professionals rather than having our characters magically solve shit themselves. Cute idea! Cordelia’s annoyed with Darla addressing Angel as Angelus. He asks them all to leave.
Darla tells Angel that she’s lucky to have someone who understands and knows, then perceptively adds that he didn’t have that. She says that she knew that he would help her if she could only get to him. “You’ll make the pain stop, won’t you?” He tells her that it takes time, and she says it takes moments, revealing her neck. Angel’s all, “Uh, no! Not like that!” She freaks out and panics this scene is perfection.
She switches gears and tells him to pay her back and get revenge. Angel’s “I can’t” takes us back to the confrontation in China. He says he can’t seem to be what he’s not and apologizes. Darla says he disgusts her and he grabs the baby and runs off. In the present day, Darla runs out on Angel, telling him not to look for her.
You guys. So much win just happened here. First, Julie fucking Benz. I can’t get over the awesome we just got in a total sidebar character. While Fool For Love showed us part of how human William shaped who Spike is, this episode was a great foil by showing us nearly the opposite in Darla. She doesn’t even remember her human name and after living 400 years as a vampire she has no idea how to be anything else. I love that these two episodes go hand in hand, not only for the way the flashback scenes compliment each other, but also for the way those two character portraits go together. It emphasizes the complexity of the vampire characters in a really great way.
As a total package, this episode had more flaws than Fool For Love (only the cemetery scene with the Scoobies comes to mind) in that I could have done without all of Holland’s scenes and really only appreciated Lindsey’s for Darla; his character still feels like a plot device to me. That said, I still loved it, mostly because of how well these two episodes fit together. This was utterly brilliant. I can’t get over my general feelings of admiration for Whedon & Friends for what they just did here.
Lor: +1 to all you said. I also like that Darla puts Angel’s brood into perspective. There is only so much we can be fed Angel’s eternal misery, but Darla really colors his experience and it’s amazing that we get to see it through Julie Benz’s phenomenal performance.
K: As much as I loved Julie Benz’s performance, I’m still a little stuck on “…Why the hell would you ask Angel to turn you? Surely he’s at the bottom of the list when it comes to vampires who would willingly do that?” So yeah. I loved the crossover magic, and the fact that the two episodes give us the chance to see scenes from both perspectives. And I loved getting Darla’s back story. But she’s clearly been taking Terrible Plans 101 while she was hanging out at Wolfram & Hart. Because yeah. Worst plan ever…
Sweeney: Yes and no. Terrible plan, but bitch is clearly a little batshit at this point. All of her present day scenes in this episode are about the degree to which her new human existence has been traumatic for her while concurrently setting up that her relationship with Angel played a major role in her 400 years. Stupid idea, yes, but it makes some sense that she did it.
Though she probably did sit in on one or two lessons of W&H’s Terrible Plans 101.
Next time on Angel: The gang get themselves involved in a museum heist, which goes even worse than you’d expect. Find out all the details in S02 E08 – The Shroud of Rahmon.