Previously: Cordy got a terrible haircut, Angel and Gunn joined in a museum heist that sent everyone crazy, and Angel drank Kate’s blood to save her life.
Kirsti: We open at the Brooding Hotel. Wes, Cordy and her new terrible hair style are worried about Angel. Apparently he’s been down in the basement for like forever, and is back to being the King of Broodsville. Plus, Wes keeps hearing a “chucka-chucka sound.” Cordy gives Wes crap because he was supposed to do the male bonding thing and get Angel to talk about his feelings, but the English version of that apparently boils down to asking about tea preferences.
They squabble a bit before realising that the noise from the cellar has stopped. They sprint for the front desk, and try to look like they’ve been there the whole time as Angel appears. He was doing his laundry, and says that he loves it when things are still warm from the drier. Wes is all “Hey look, the male bonding worked!” while Cordy wants to know if Angel’s on drugs. He says that he’s just come to terms with the fact that he can’t help Darla unless she wants help, and he’s all accepting and shit. Course, when Gunn bursts in two seconds later saying that he’s found Darla as per Angel’s request, Cordy and Wes are super pissed. Angel says that he lied because he thought they’d nag. They proceed to do just that as he heads out the door with Gunn to help Darla, who’s staying a stone’s throw from Skid Row.
Lorraine: A couple of things: (1) – Cordelia is wearing some brownish lip liner with red lipstick AND SHE NEEDS TO STOP IMMEDIATELY. (2) – Angel, you are lying to my favorite people AND YOU NEED TO STOP IMMEDIATELY.
K: Agreed on both counts. We cut over to Darla taking off a crucifix and putting on a crapton of red lipstick. She stares at her reflection in the mirror with revulsion before wiping off the lipstick.
Sweeney: (But call us, if you want in on our product placement, like the Verizon-endorses-pedophilia plugs on PLL posts. Wait, sorry, that was a bad example.)
K: And here I was assuming the colour was 17th Century Prostitute. How foolish of me! There’s a knock on the door and then Lindsey – who’s thankfully had a haircut – appears, having paid off the motel owner to unlock the door. “You’re a hard one to find,” he says, and the Electric Cellos do their thing.
After the credits, Lindsey’s taken Darla back to Wolfram & Hart. He thanks her for coming, and she’s all “Dude, WTF, you Christian Grey-d me over here.”
Lor: Um, yes. Christian Grey needs to be used as a verb always.
K: Two thumbs up gifs in one day? I’m on fire! Holland appears and says that she totally had a choice in the matter. She teenage girls that she didn’t ask to be reborn in a box, and Holland’s all “God moves in mysterious ways.” Darla gives him a death stare while pointing out that God had very little to do with her return. She asks what Holland wants her to do, because she won’t go back to Angel. He says that it’s not about Angel, it’s about her because she’s the firm’s moral responsibility. He hands her a folder and she flips through the contents in horror. She asks Lindsey if he knew about this, and he doesn’t reply. Holland says that they’ll deal with the situation however she wants, they just thought she should know.
Over at the motel, Gunn’s snooping around Darla’s room. Angel does his super strength sniffing thing to inform us that she was here pretty recently, and then strolls through the door. Gunn’s all “How’d you get in?” and Angel informs us that motel = public accommodation, so vampires can just stroll on in whenever they want. Gunn holds up the crucifix necklace, and informs an unflinching Angel (seriously – the whole vampires and crucifixes thing pisses me off so much) (L: It was a small crucifix! *cough*) that maybe Darla was expecting him. He does some more sniffing and says that there’s no new blood there, but tons of old blood because apparently his nose can smell historic blood too? IDEK. Gunn says that the shitty motel is a step down from her posh W&H accommodation, and Angel says, “When you’re desperate, you do what you have to do.”
That throws us back into a terrible wig flashback – France in 1765, to be specific. Darla and the Terrible Accented and Bewigged One ride into a barn, and Angelus is all, “Don’t they know who we are?! RUDE.” Darla suspects that yes, they DO know who they are, hence the mob with pitchforks and flaming torches. He barricades the doors and suggests that they go to Romania while she’s all “Dude, we lost them three villages ago.” Angelus isn’t so sure – the mob is being led by a man named Holtz, who seems to be able to find them no matter what. I mention his name only because I can see the future, which is sad because otherwise I’d totally call him Van Helsing.
Sweeney: We can’t see the future, so let’s go with that! Except short flashback is short, so maybe never mind whatever.
K: ANYWAY. Angelus is pissed that they’re reduced to hiding in a barn like animals, and Darla suggests that they do it like they do on the Discovery Channel.
Lor: Hey, look. She was wearing Human Blood in 1765.
K: I’m now glad that I was wrong about the colour being 17th Century Prostitute, because it would be a total faux pas to wear 17th Century Prostitute in the second half of the eighteenth century… Angelus is all “…Shouldn’t we keep watch?” before deciding that that’s a silly idea and kneeling down next to her. But as he goes to kiss her, a flaming stake flies past his head. Womp womp.
With that, we cut back to the present where Darla’s hanging out in a dive bar and flirting with a balding vampire. She asks how long he’s been a creature of the night and is taken aback when he says 1992, and then can’t believe that it was “already the last century.” You and me both, bro. She wants to know if he’s ever thought about siring someone, and he’s all “Ew, gross. You read too much Anne Rice,” and I pine for a time when Anne Rice was the first thing people thought of when it came to books about vampires (sorry, Bram Stoker). She’s all “My place is nearby, you can vampirise me there,” and he’s taken aback because that totally sounds like commitment and EW GROSS.
Lor: To be fair, “we could be immortal together,” is a little much for a first date.
K: Valid point. She suggests a “use me and lose me” situation and he says there’s an alley out the back. She grabs his hand and drags him out there. Once in the alley, he’s all “You’re popping my siring cherry and I don’t really know how this works,” and Darla gets “OH FOR FUCK’S SAKE” face. She talks him through the basics, and just as he’s about to bite her, he turns to dust because Angel is the king of fang-blocking.
Darla’s pissed, but Angel says that he was saving her. She says that she can take care of herself, and “I picked a stupid one. I always pick the stupid ones, didn’t you know that?” BURN. He says that he was saving her from herself, and that if she does what she’s planning on doing, the next time she sees him, it’ll be when he’s staking her. He suggests that she give being human a little more time, and she informs him that she doesn’t HAVE a little more time. She’s dying, and probably only has two or three months left to live. She storms off to find another moronic vampire to con into turning her, and that throws us into another terrible wig flashback. The barn is now on fire, and their horse is getting panicky. Darla says that she can’t die like this, and then shoots down every single one of Angelus’ suggestions about how they can escape. Eventually, she knocks him down with a plank, takes the horse and leaves.
Back at the Hyperion, Cordy and Wes are less than thrilled to see that Angel’s returned with Darla. She’s got a bag with her, and Cordy’s all “She’s STAYING HERE???” Angel thinks that the files Darla saw were fake – another one of W&H’s mind games, but Darla’s not so sure. Angel asks Cordy and Wes to keep an eye on Darla while he heads out to investigate, and Darla’s all “YOU CAN’T KEEP ME HERE, DAMMIT.” He says that she’s not a prisoner, and that she should give him a chance. After he leaves, Wes and Cordy take over and it’s brilliant so I’m gonna go ahead and give you the entire conversation:
Cordy: “So, first up – you’re a prisoner.”
Wesley: “I’d have to concur with that, yes.”
Cordy: “See, you’ve got our friend all in knots.”
Wesley: “Can’t say we like you much.”
Cordy: “So, sorry about the dying, but if you try to escape, we *will* hit you.”
Wesley: “On the head.”
Cordy: “With very large and heavy objects. ‘Kay?”
Lor: I think dealing with Angel’s prolonged uselessness and the slow breakdown of the Fang Gang has been manageable because Wes and Cordelia continue to be the freakin’ best.
Sweeney: Indeed. They win all the things forever.
K: So hard. Over at Lindsey’s apartment, Angel kicks the door in then glowers from the doorway, launching into a speech about how he may not be able to come in, but… Lindsey interrupts him with, “wipe your feet.” Angel’s all, “whut?”. Lindsey gives him a formal invitation, and then says that he doesn’t blame Angel for not believing the file. He shows him the second, third and tenth opinions he got from specialists all over the place. Apparently when they brought Darla back, they also brought back her delightful seventeenth century syphilis, which has now progressed to a terminal heart condition. (Fun fact? Melbourne was founded by a guy named John Batman, who died two years later (at the ripe old age of 37) from syphilis. And by the time he died he had no nose left. Needless to say, there are no portraits of him in existence.)
Lor: That’s some shit, ain’t it? “We resurrected you! …AND YOUR SYPHILIS. And that cavity you had is back too.” Gee. Thanks.
Sweeney: WORST! Also I am sure that this was somehow a deliberate part of this EPIC CONVOLUTED PLAN, that I will continue to complain about until the show gives me a good reason to eat my words.
K: The whole thing confuses me, because she was literally at death’s door when the Master turned her. So it’s like they brought her back but rewound the clock a couple of months on her being human thing? IDK. They have some back and forth about which one of them loves her before Angel says that he’s going to find a cure of the non-siring variety, and Lindsey’s thinks he’s a fucking idiot because Darla’s only got a couple of months left and why not do what you know you can do right now? Angel retaliates that Lindsey’s the idiot, because Vamp!Darla would eat Lindsey for breakfast. Literally. He throws the medical files at Lindsey and storms out.
Lor: Thanks to all of you being all, “but no! Just wait!” about the Wolfram & Hart plan, I keep trying to see everything through the eyes of the long con. Mostly I get distracted by things like Lindsey’s still terrible rubber hand.
Sweeney: My problem, at this point, is that regardless of what the big picture is — and it’s already clear that W&H has some sort of big picture in mind — is that it’s so insanely layered that any one of a thousand million things could have fucked it up. Usually when a snark lady says the word “layered” to describe a show element, we meant it in a good way. Right now, however, I don’t. Again, I’ll admit how wrong I was if/when that time comes, but for now: calling bullshit where I see it.
K: Good plan. Back at the Hyperion, Cordy tells Wes that Darla should be “voted off the island” for her 400 years of wreaking death and destruction on the world. Aaaah, 13 year old references. Good times…
Angel returns and the guys want to know what happened. He says that he needs to talk to Darla first. She’s out in the courtyard sniffing flowers. She sees Angel’s SRS BSNSS face, and I-told-you-so’s him. She tries to leave, and he says that he’s going to find a cure and that she just needs a little help. With that, we head over to Lorne’s bar and Darla singing karaoke. Luckily for all concerned (see: my ear drums), she can actually sing. Unlike Angel.
She continues to sing in the background as Angel talks to Lorne. Lorne says they may not be able to save Darla, but Angel’s still pissed about Lorne sending him to the Swami Murderer and nearly getting killed, and insists. Lorne listens to Darla sing some more, and then tells Angel that sometimes things break and can’t be put back together. Angel says that Darla never got a chance to be alive, despite having lived for over 400 years. Lorne takes pity on him, and says that he knows of a quest Angel can go on, but that it’ll probably kill him. Angel’s on board regardless.
Lor: He was so enthusiastic, some might say he’s on board BECAUSE of the chance of death.
Sweeney: Yup. Opportunity to be a proper martyr? Of course he’s in.
K: Martyrdom is what Angels do best! Well, second best. Brooding obviously tops the list. Cut to an empty swimming pool. Darla thinks this can’t be right, but Angel says that Lorne told him to take the plunge, and apparently it was meant literally. He walks out onto the diving board, and jumps. But instead of hitting the bottom, he disappears in a crackle of blue light and this is a really unfortunate parallel to something that shall remain nameless but which is now giving me feels. DAMMIT. (S: I THOUGHT THE SAME THING WHEN I SAW THIS. FEELS.) Anyway, in some kind of parallel dimension-y place, Angel rolls across the floor. “Well, we certainly have faith. Now we’ll test your valour,” says a voice from behind him, and he turns to see a butler because OBVIOUSLY. Darla’s there too, and apparently she’s his collateral, and if he doesn’t complete the trials, she dies. This is why one should always read the fine print BEFORE jumping into a parallel universe in the bottom of a swimming pool. Angel glares at the butler and we fade to black.
Sweeney: Shameful TV confession: my immediate reaction to this premise was, “Like that episode of Sabrina the Teenage Witch when Harvey has to save Sabrina and also gets to learn her secret!”
K: YES OH MY GOD. After the Not Commercial Break, the butler tells Angel that there will be three challenges and that he should take off his shirt. I wish to God that were me making a joke, but it’s not. (L: You won’t hear me complaining about the view.) (S: Word.) Angel asks the butler for tips as he takes off his shirt, and the guy says that the first test involves a gate opening, and all he has to do is walk through. Angel asks about tests 2 and 3, and the butler says that he has no idea because no one’s ever survived the first one. Angel brood-faces at him, and he disappears as the gate starts to open.
A chainmail-wearing demon appears and starts whirling a chain with a meat hook at the end of it around his head. Angel does some wall-climbing gymnastic crap, but still cops a meat hook to the leg. Chainmail Demon starts to pull him in for the kill.
In the antechamber, the butler stares at his pocket watch and informs Darla that – after 17 seconds – Angel’s already lasted twice as long as most challengers. She orders him to call it off, but he’s all “LOL, NOPE.” She says that she needs to see what’s happening, and he’s all “*shrug* Your funeral” before touching her on the forehead. We cut back and forth between Angel getting hit a lot and Darla cringing.
The Chainmail Demon pulls out a broadsword, but Angel blocks it with the chain from the meat hook. He manages to get away from the demon, duck through a doorway, and then drop down behind it. He grabs the broadsword and chops the Chainmail Demon in half. Darla looks relieved. Angel heads over to the gate, which has closed again, and is all “He’s dead, yo. Open sesame.” Obviously, that’s the cue for the Chainmail Demon to put his two halves back together and head towards Angel again. Angel promptly chops him in half again, and uses the meat hook chain to tie one half to each wall. Chainmail Demon is stuck. The gate opens, and Angel limps through.
Darla’s freaking out, while the butler looks perfectly calm and continues to check his watch. Elsewhere, Angel enters the second challenge – a darkened hallway. The ceiling pulls back to reveal a moonlit sky, which shows him that the walls and floor of the hallway are covered in crucifixes. Half way along the corridor is a baptismal font looking thing. Back in the antechamber, the butler eats a biscuit while Darla asks why they don’t just go ahead and kill Angel. The butler replies that it’s not about death, it’s about the journey. Said journey is making Angel sizzle like a barbeque. He bypasses the baptismal font, heading for the gate at the end. But it’s locked. He drags himself back to the basin, which is full of holy water and has a key at the bottom. Please tell me I’m not the only one who couldn’t think of anything but Dumbledore?
Lor: I wasn’t thinking it, but that A+ gif selection makes me so glad you were.
K: Angel shoves his arm into the holy water and pulls the key out, his arms covered in burns. He staggers back to the door, unlocks it and passes through.
The butler checks his watch again, and says that Angel’s quite remarkable. Darla agrees, and we head back to Angel who’s about to start the third challenge. Manacles spring from the walls and clamp around his hands and feet. The butler appears and applauds him before revealing the final challenge – a moving wall of stakes. The final challenge, it seems, is death – they can’t restore a life without first taking one. We get a shot from behind and I’m about 90% sure it’s a stunt double and not David Boreanaz, because he has MUCH nicer arms. (S: Haters gonna hate, Kirsti.) (K: It’s like comparing Michael Cera’s arms to Jeremy Renner’s…) Anyway, the butler suggests that he start praying to any vampire deities he may have, and then waits for Angel’s permission to proceed. Angel, it seems, can walk away at any time, but Darla will die. The butler points out that the world is a better place with Angel in it, whereas Darla can barely take care of herself and is pretty much doomed to fall. But Angel’s still willing to give his life for hers. The butler releases the stakes.
In the antechamber, Darla screams and cringes. She opens her eyes to see Angel in front of her, fully dressed but swaying on his feet. The butler informs them that the third challenge was, in fact, ACCEPTING death. Angel demands that the butler pay up, curing Darla. He puts a hand on either side of her head, and I can’t help but be reminded of the episode of Supernatural that Julie Benz was in where she was a terminal heart patient looking for a cure from a faith healer… Anyway, the butler drops his hands and gets all “Oh my, how awkward”, because Darla’s already been given new life by supernatural means – when Wolfram & Hart brought her back.
Angel says that she deserves a second chance, and the butler says “She’s living her second chance.” He apologises, says there’s nothing he can do, and disappears as a set of stairs shimmers into view. Angel throws a shit fit, tossing tables and knocking out demon guards all over the place. He punches a pillar over and over again before falling to his knees in defeat.
Sweeney: An unproductive reaction, but a pretty understandable one, all things considered. I’d destroy their shmancy shit too. I would have been less down with the death thing, though, so there’s that.
K: Right there with you, Sweeney. Although I would have been less about the destruction and more about stealing all their food so that I could comfort eat my feelings away… Back at Darla’s motel room, he’s all “Maybe if I turned you, you’d still have a soul on account of I have a soul?” but Darla won’t have a bar of it any more. She says that maybe this IS her second chance – her chance to die the way she should have all those years ago, and that knowing he cares enough to go through all those challenges is all she needs from him. He says that he won’t leave her, that she won’t be alone for a single moment. He holds her as she starts to cry.
Just then, the door bursts open and a guy dressed in black hits Angel with a taser. Two others grab Darla as the first tapes Angel’s hands behind his back. Lindsey strolls in and grabs Angel’s hair, saying “How did you think this would end?”
Sweeney: I’m a little surprised Lindsey didn’t seize that opportunity to punch him in the face. I mean, he knows how it’s about to end and maybe that’s enough, but he’s been beaten around by Angel enough times — and that whole you-chopped-off-my-hand-thing has to still cause some resentment — that he has to want to take a good swing. I mean, Lindsey deserves it, but still.
K: YES. With that, Drusilla(!!!) walks in. She heads over to Darla, who fights against the guards holding her, vamps out and bites down on Darla’s neck. She drains her, then – in an act very similar to Angel’s own siring – slices open her boobs with a fingernail, and holds Darla’s head to her chest as she stares at a teary Angel with a sense of superiority. Fade to black.
While I liked the way it ultimately ended, I feel like this episode could have been a lot cleaner. The main action didn’t start until basically the last 15 minutes of the episode, and I feel like it would have worked better if they’d had Angel take Darla to a doctor for confirmation rather than just threatening Lindsey again. Plus, it would have been nice to have more than five minutes of Cordy and Wes. At least they had that badass tag-team speech about her being a prisoner.
Lor: DRUSILLA! I let out an, “OH SHIT!” when she did her crazy stroll into the room. (S: ME TOO.) Also, I hate Lindsey and want Angel to cut off his foot next to bring me some joy. (S: ME TOO.) Also, yes, this episode felt split in two parts, separated by trials. But I enjoyed it! (S: Yup. This too.)
Next time on Angel: Dru’s determined to stop Angel from interfering in Darla’s re-vamped (pun intended) rising, and Angel turns to the dark side. In short, the shit hits the fan. Find out all about it in S02 E10 – Reunion.