Previously: Holtz rejoined the modern world, and everyone wanted Darla’s baby. Also, she went into labour.
Kirsti: We open in the lobby of the Hyperion, with Angel and Holtz right where we left them. Angel’s all “DAFUQ? You’re meant to be dead!” then joins the dots on the fact that the mysterious beastie the prophecies were talking about is Holtz. He starts to try and talk Holtz around, but a couple of green scaly demons jump up and hold stabby looking metal things to Angel’s throat. Holtz says that what brought him to the 21st century is Angel and his “demon bitch.” Angel starts in on his “everything’s different because I have a soul” routine, but Holtz flicks some holy water at him, causing him to vamp out for a second, and says that he sees no difference. He orders his minions to search the place because wherever Angel is, Darla can’t be far away.
Lorraine: While I was watching, I was struck by how this would’ve not been true fore 85% of the rest of the episodes we’ve seen. You can almost hear Angel cursing his luck.
Sweeney: Samesame. “IT FUCKING FIGURES.”
K: That’s our cue to cut across to the alley where Darla is screaming her way through contractions in the backseat of the car. Wes says that they need to get the prophecies, and Cordy “bitch, please”s him, because ain’t nobody needed any prophecy to give birth before.
Gunn suggests that maybe they need some Vaseline and a catcher’s mitt, and I throw up in my mouth a little. Fred, bless her, says that Darla’s not sufficiently dilated to deliver yet, but is now in active labour. Wes says that something must have happened to Angel and they need to move. He reminds Darla that she needs to breathe through the pain, and demonstrates in a way that makes him sound like a monkey. The others stare at him in disbelief. “I. DON’T. BREATHE!” Darla yells as she vamps out and knocks all four of them away from the car simultaneously. She then bursts into tears as the electric cellos do their thing.
Lor: She also takes a really deep breath. ‘Cause, you know. Human actress.
Sweeney: A couple, in fact. Pesky human actresses with their actual lungs!
K: This reminds me of that time that Angel told Xander he couldn’t give Buffy CPR as he didn’t breathe. While breathing heavily.
After the credits, we’re into a Terrible Wig Flashback. Holtz rides through the countryside having seizure cuts of his family. He reaches his house and runs inside. He kneels by his wife’s body and covers his face. There’s a noise behind him, and a little voice says “Papa?” He turns to see his daughter, who says in a VERY Home Counties accent for someone who’s from Yorkshire that her mother won’t wake up. Holtz hugs her and starts to sing her a lullaby before pulling her hair aside to reveal the bite marks on her neck. One of his men enters the house, and Holtz tells him to get out before sitting back in a chair and watching Sarah play on the floor next to her mother’s corpse.
Lor: UM. That little girl got over that trauma real fast.
K: Spoilers, sweetie.
Seizure cut to Wolfram & Hart. Lilah shows Linwood a picture of Holtz taken from the surveillance tape and says that they don’t know who he is. Daniel Dae Kim suggests that maybe he’s an old player, given that he called Angel “Angelus.” Lilah points out that this means he’s probably an enemy because Angelus didn’t have friends. Linwood asks if they’ve heard from their SWAT team types or the creepy obstetrician. When the answer is a big fat nope, he insists that he knows nothing about their totally botched operation and that the blame will fall squarely on Lilah and DDK. Linwood leaves, and DDK says to Lilah that they’re going to get crucified. “They don’t crucify here. Too Christian,” she replies.
Sweeney: Lilah is occasionally written a bit hollow, but I do love her snark.
K: Agreed. Back at the Hyperion, Holtz’s demon minions are still holding Angel while Holtz goes through the weapons cupboard. Angel wants to know how Holtz is still human, and Holtz does a villain-y monologue in response about what he could do to Angel that would make Darla come running. Angel wants to know what Holtz had to give up to be there, and Holtz says that he had nothing to give up thanks to Angel and Darla. Angel disagrees though – Holtz still had his soul. He urges Holtz not to let himself be used for evil, and Holtz wonders out loud if Angel really has changed before punching him in the face.
That takes us back to the alley where Cordy, Gunn and Fred are trying to wake Wes up by slapping him. They inform Wes that Darla’s currently between contractions, and the camera pans across to show Darla talking to herself in the car. Wes pulls himself up and asks her if she feels up to travelling. She says that she is, and the Fang Gang pile into the front seat, with Fred perched on Gunn’s knee. Darla wants to know why no one’s sitting in the back with her, and promises not to throw any of them out of the car – at least not while it’s moving. Fred points out that the back seat is covered in amniotic fluid, and EW. Wes asks if they have a tyre iron or a throwing axe, because both ends of the alley are filled with Holtz’s demon minions. DUDE. YOU’RE IN A FUCKING CAR. JUST DRIVE INTO THEM.
Lor: RIGHT? Wesley needs to talk to A about throwing cars at people.
K: Hyperion lobby. Holtz punches Angel some more, and then a demon minion walks in to inform Holtz that they’ve got her. Everyone is slightly surprised when said ‘her’ turns out to be Lilah rather than Darla. Holtz throws holy water on her, and Lilah’s all “Dude, I’m a LAWYER.” She says that if he’s busy torturing Angel, she’ll just wait. Holtz says that when he’s done, Angel will be dead, and BTW does she know what Angel really is? That’s her cue to word vomit about the gypsy curse and Angel atoning for his sins, and Holtz is all “WTF??” Angel takes advantage of his distraction to drag a grenade from one of the dead SWAT guys towards him with his foot. He tells Lilah to duck (which makes no sense to me, because evil lawyer who wants to kill him), and kicks the grenade into the air, pulling the pin out with his teeth. The grenade explodes, throwing Angel through the doors of the elevator because it’s a magical grenade that doesn’t blow you to pieces? IDEK.
Lor: Apparently you can travel by grenade. Who knew?
Sweeney: There is literally no rational explanation for this beyond protection from The Great Contrivance Spirit.
K: At least have him be bleeding from SOMEWHERE???
Holtz picks himself up off the ground and runs over to the elevator. He peers down the lift shaft before demanding that his minions search the grounds. He then tells Lilah not to send any more men because he wants to be the one who kills Angel. She says that she doesn’t give a fuck because the SWAT team were there for Darla. Holtz is intrigued and wants to know if Darla’s been cursed too. She tells him that if he finds Darla, they can do business, but he says that his only business with Darla is killing her. He walks out, and Lilah phones the office to arrange a clean up crew. She finds the prophecy sitting on the front desk, and grabs it and Wes’ notes as she walks out the door.
Back in the alley, the Fang Gang are fighting demon minions. Darla crazies to herself a little, and then does exactly what I said someone should do earlier – she climbs into the front seat, starts the car, and drives it into the demons, killing them all. (S: Glad someone got their shit together on this one.) Then she drives away, leaving the Fang Gang staring after her in confusion. Angel walks up behind them, covered in soot, and wants to know what everyone’s looking at. They turn to stare at him as we fade to black.
After the Not Commercial Break, Angel fills the Fang Gang in on Holtz’s sudden reappearance and WHY THE FUCK ARE THEY STILL STANDING AROUND IN THE ALLEY??? Run away first, discuss things later. Gunn wants to know if Holtz is there for the baby, and Fred goes into one of her rambling speeches about how maybe the baby is meant to be a force for good but Holtz will kill it before it’s even born and thus bring about the destruction of mankind, and trails off awkwardly with “Have you thought of a name yet?” when she sees everyone staring at her. Angel says that he’ll find Darla while the gang find a safe place for her to have the baby. Wes asks if Angel was able to get the prophecy, and he shakes his head before walking away.
In Lilah’s office, a random guy in white gloves is examining the prophecy. She asks for a translation, and hands him Wes’ notes to speed things up. The guy says that prophecies are usually open to interpretation rather than being a strict translation, and she says that she just wants the gist of it. And to have it done by morning or she’ll kill his whole family. Down in the underground lair thingy, Holtz wants to know why Sahjhan left out the part about Angel having a soul. He says that he didn’t think it was important, and Holtz is pissed. Sahjhan says that Angel’s still the same guy he was when he was evil, only now he uses hair product. It’s dubious, but I’m going to award HANDSOME ANGEL! shots because I’m half way through the episode and there haven’t been any shots yet. Anyway, it turns out that Holtz isn’t pissed because Ensouled!Angel doesn’t deserve to be killed. He’s pissed because he’s been hunting for him in the wrong way. He asks Sahjhan if he’s kept anything else from him, and Sahjhan’s all “Nope, don’t think so.”
That’s our cue to cut across to Darla stroking her pregnant belly and staring down at the city from a rooftop. Angel appears behind her, and she wants to know why anyone would bring a baby into the world, because it’s horrible. He replies “To make it better, maybe?” but she thinks that maybe it’s to destroy the world once and for all. (L: What is, “Young Fiddy.”) (K: 1430, Lor) She tells Angel that the baby has no future, because she can’t let it go. Because she loves it, and she’s never loved anything in her entire life. The orchestra of feels strikes up as he says that they can raise the baby together. She tells him that it’s impossible, because she hasn’t been nourishing the baby during her pregnancy – it’s been nourishing her. Its soul has been giving her All The Feels, and she knows that when she gives birth, she won’t be able to love it any more. She starts to cry, and Angel holds her close.
Sweeney: I LOVE YOU, JULIE BENZ. Reading the summary of this scene it has a little bit of a LOL feel, because obviously that’s what we do, but holy shit Julie Benz tears gave me all the feels.
Lor: Absolutely. Pass the Snark Squad branded tissues.
K: Over at Caritas, the gang have just informed Lorne that they want Darla to have the baby there because the anti-violence spells mean that it’s a safe place. Lorne’s not on board with this plan at all because he’s too busy setting up the club for the grand reopening. Which includes finishing off the security system himself – the contractor he hired to do it hums while he works and so Lorne knows that he’s planning on leaving things disconnected and fires him. Back on the rooftop, Darla asks Angel promise to protect the baby from her. But his phone rings before he can answer. It’s Wes, telling them to come to Caritas. Angel asks if it’s safe, and Wes says that he’s sure it will be by the time they get there. In the background, Fred slaps Gunn’s face to test if the system is working. It’s not. Angel tells Darla they should go because there’s a storm coming, but she says something doesn’t feel right.
Seizure cut to Lilah’s office. White Gloves Dude has done the translation, and says that Wes was very close to cracking it. Lilah asks what it says about the birth, and he says that it doesn’t say anything about a birth, and it’s actually more of an obituary. The actual prophecy is “For surely in that time, when the sky opens and the heavens weep, there will be no birth, only death.” Lilah smiles to herself, and we fade to black.
Lor: I don’t know if you guys remember that Sweeney and I once proclaimed ourselves Snarky Prophets, but I’mma go ahead and prophesy that this prophecy is not all it appears to be.
Sweeney: +1 THE SNARKY PROPHETS & BEN WYATT HAVE SPOKEN/MIC DROPPED.
K: I’m going to award you both a “We give good TV” for that.
After the Not Commercial Break, we’re back in the Terrible Wig Flashback. Holtz sits in a chair, the sun shining through the windows behind him. Two of his men walk in, and say that they need to go, to take him away from the house because it’s full of the devil’s work. “Not a devil, just a demon,” he replies as he looks at Sarah, cowering in a darkened corner. One of his men asks what they’re going to do, and Holtz replies, “whatever we have to.” He picks Sarah up and carries her outside as she screams. He throws her off the porch and watches as she vamps out and bursts into flames.
Back in the present, the storm has broken and Lorne is still struggling to get the security system working. Gunn is still being used as the test subject for said security system, with Cordy slapping the back of his head. Angel guides Darla down the stairs. The gang rush to get her a chair and she sinks into it gratefully as Angel pulls Wes aside. He tells Wes that Darla’s in a lot of pain, and Wes asks how far apart her contractions are. Angel says that the last one was about an hour ago, and Wes is taken aback. Just then, Darla doubles over in pain, and the gang lead her into Lorne’s bedroom. Fred looks down at the chair Darla was sitting on to see that it’s covered in blood.
Down in the underground lair thingy, Sahjhan says that it’s time for Holtz to do his thing. The security system guy that Lorne fired is there, and Sahjhan tells him to spill the beans. SSG’s eyes turn red and he speaks in Cordy’s voice and then Lorne’s, repeating their lines from earlier about Caritas always being a sanctuary. Back in Lorne’s bedroom, Angel asks how Darla is. Wes and Fred inform her that she’s tough and also immortal, which helps. But the baby’s heartbeat is faint and it seems that Darla’s body doesn’t really know what to do in terms of childbirth, on account of her having been dead for 400 years. Cordy asks about a caesarean like a normal person, and Fred says that they’re afraid that the mystical forces that have been protecting the pregnancy will end up killing the baby. Okay, contrivance. Whatever.
Sweeney: Darla’s whole pregnancy is a giant pile of, “Make shit up as we go,” that would cause headaches if we tried to tally the contrivance, so I choose to accept all the bullshit things.
K: Angel’s all “WTF? Why would the Powers That Be (Contriving) give us half a miracle?” and Gunn points out that maybe Darla is carrying the evil beastie from the prophecies and that the PTB(C) are doing everything they can to stop it being born. Angel turns and walks back into Lorne’s bedroom. Cordy glares at Gunn and deducts 20 points from Gryffindor for his honesty. She tries to whack his arm, but her hand gets jolted back by a blue flash – Lorne finally has the security system working.
In the bedroom, the Clarinet of Sadness starts up as Angel sits down next to Darla. He asks how she’s doing, and she replies that the baby has finally stopped kicking. Angel get schmaltzy because she called the baby “he” rather than “it,” but she says that she can feel the baby dying inside her. (L: Welp. That’s one way to dry up the schmaltz.) Angel tells her that she has to fight for the baby, and she says that she doesn’t know how. She rubs her belly and calls the baby “my darling boy,” and a tear slides down her cheek as she says that she’s so useless a mother that she can’t even give the kid life.
Out in the bar, Gunn wonders if he should apologise, but Cordy and Wes tell him to give Angel and Darla some time alone. Holtz walks in, and Lorne greets him pleasantly. He informs Holtz that they’re closed and hands him a flyer for the reopening the following night. Holtz turns to go, and sings the lullaby he sang to Sarah as he walks up the stairs. Lorne hums along for a second, then looks startled. He tells the Fang Gang to run, and they follow him, confused. Just then, a barrel comes flying down the stairs and lands at the bottom by the metal detector. A grenade follows it, and a second later, there’s an explosion and a fireball sweeps through the club. Fade to black.
Lor: CARITAS, NO. DAMN IT.
Sweeney: LORNE! Poor, poor Lorne. Caritas is kind of like the Wiggins library, with its frequent destruction.
K: Pretty much. After the Not Commercial Break, Angel’s helping Darla up off the bed. The gang rush in, followed by a cloud of smoke. Angel asks what the hell is going on, and Lorne explains that the stairwell and the doorway aren’t covered by the protection spells, which means you can stand outside and throw stuff in. That seems like a pretty big oversight to me…
Lor: Yeah, but we’ve talked about it before. It’s the glitch in the vampire/invitation magic as well, but a naturally occurring one. I mean, you can’t protect the sidewalk, you know?
K: True, but considering the no violence spell makes stuff bounce away (i.e. Cordy’s arm from Gunn), surely the same should apply to stuff that’s thrown in the door?
Anyway, a flaming beam falls from the ceiling to land just behind Angel and Darla, and Darla screams a little. Angel says that it has to be Holtz, but Lorne says there’s no time to discuss who’s responsible and that they have to move his bed – there’s an old loading dock behind it that leads to an alley.
Darla, meanwhile, has decided that Holtz being back explains everything perfectly – she and Angel are being punished for what they did to him all those years ago. Gunn and Wes call out to Angel for some help in bashing through the wall to the loading dock, and he reluctantly steps away from Darla. He punches his way through the wall as Holtz BAMFs his way down the stairs in a billowy coat of doom and carrying a crossbow. It’s all very Van Helsing.
Out in the alley, Darla tells Angel to leave her as the Fang Gang stand around helplessly. Angel tosses Gunn his keys and tells the gang to go get his car as he lowers Darla to the ground in the pouring rain. Fred refuses to leave, despite Angel’s pleas for her to go with the gang. Angel tells Darla that she’ll be okay, but she says that she won’t be, not after their baby dies. Especially not if he dies in an alley, because Angel died in an alley at her hand (well, fangs. Whatever).
She tells him that she wants to say she’s sorry, but she can’t, and that they can’t make up for any of the unspeakable evil they did in their time together. But that their baby is the one good thing they did. He kisses her hand and presses it to his face. She looks to one side, and tells him that he needs to tell their baby what she said. With that, she grabs a conveniently located chunk of wood and stabs it into her heart. Angel looks up in horror as Darla turns to dust, leaving their baby crying on the ground of the alley.
Angel picks up the still-screaming baby just as Holtz steps through the hole in the wall and raises his crossbow. He’s taken aback when he sees Angel gingerly wrapping the baby in his jacket and cradling it to his chest. The alley begins to fill with demon minions as Angel and Holtz stare at each other. Angel’s car pulls up at the end of the alley, and Wes gets out. Holtz slowly lowers his crossbow, and allows Angel and Fred to walk to the car unimpeded. Sahjhan appears behind him and demands that he shoot while he has the chance, because Holtz promised he would. “I promised I would show no mercy. And I won’t.” Holtz says. Fade to black.
I feel like this episode was meant to be really big deal feelsy, but with all the Terrible Wig Flashbacks and the cuts to Wolfram & Hart, it made things feel really disjointed for me. Darla’s big “I love my baby and will give up my life for it” arc happened in so many little thirty second increments that it lost a lot of its impact. I mean, it may be partly because I’m not a Snow and knew what was going to happen, but the whole thing felt like it just didn’t quite reach the heights it was aiming for…
Lor: Yeah, it’s got to be a Snow thing, because WHAT. DARLA. I kept thinking about how they would get this baby born that I didn’t see the self stake coming until just a moment before. I think the pregnancy was the perfect vehicle to give Darla a does of regret and guilt, without going the way of say, a sexpiphany. Julie Benz, ladies and gentlemen.
The last couple of episodes, I’ve been saying something was building, and this felt like a payoff to me. It was a good balance of feelsy with just the right touches of humor (smacking Gunn. Giggle) and in the end left us with more questions and more places to go.
I did not expect this child to actually be born. ANGEL HAS A SON. WHAT.
Sweeney: We’re Snows who love feels, too! So, technically I’m a terribly impure Snow, with my knowing of random future details because Tumblr, so it’s not like this was all 100% surprise. HOWEVER, knowing random facts is not the same thing as knowing how you get to those facts. I’m not generally a fan of INSTA MATERNAL INSTINCT because of the implication that all women are just waiting to become baby factories. Cordelia’s mystical pregnancy played out like that and it was annoying. With Darla, though, I enjoyed it. Perhaps it’s partially because it was part of a larger redemption story. Possibly also because the mythological element of it was handled better. And maybe also because I love Julie Benz and holy shit what a final exit. Remember how stupidly Darla died back on Buffy? You’ve come a long way, my dear. A long way.
Next time: Everyone’s out to get Angel’s son. Can the gang keep him safe? Find out in Angel S03 E10 – Dad.