PLEASE NOTE: THIS IS A SPOILER-RICH ZONE

PLEASE NOTE: THIS IS A SPOILER-RICH ZONE. If your diet requires you to dine on television spoiler-free ... good luck with that.

REVIEW ARCHIVES

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

What's a Rogue Demon?

Episode 1.10: Parting Gifts. Original Airdate: 12.14.99



“Wesley joins Angel and Cordelia as he pursues a demon that mutilates creatures possessing supernatural powers.”


Zelda’s Thoughts:

  • Oh hey the Oracles are back. And annoyed with Angel, who’s trying to get Doyle back. But they won’t. They don’t want to nullify his heroic act, his atonement.
  • Oh hey it’s Maury Sterling who’s on every show but especially as Max on Homeland.
  • And he’s being traced by someone on a motorcycle who could it be.
  • And the credits give us one last fakeout, keeping Doyle in the credits for one last episode (and probably to not spoil that Wesley is joining the cast)
  • Cordelia’s despondently examining the mugs, trying to figure out if Doyle had a special coffee mug. She’s looking for something to hold onto, to keep of his.
  • Angel being testy about vampire stereotypes: always delightful.
  • Woof,  Cordelia weeping through her audition advertising a stain remover.
  • And the three nonplussed auditors. It’s pretty generous that they’re giving her another run at it.
  • Unfortunately, that’s her cue for GASP A VISION.
  • “Nice adjustment, nice.” // “Thank you.”
  • Maury’s being followed by an assassin, he says. This assassin wears leather and black jeans and has a bag of weapons.
  • Maury seems to be here to add more color to the ambiguously evil demons, but he’s claiming he’s “evil” but not ~evil~ but hey those of us who know the future know that’s a little bit of a big fat lie.
  • Oh right, this is the episode where Cordelia kisses everyone, trying to get rid of the visions.
  • It’s pretty rough, you know. You could argue Doyle could bear his visions because of his enhanced demon strength, but Cordelia is full human at the moment. Let’s put a pin in this, because hey it’ll come back later.
  • Angel leaves his office in bright daylight, but by the time he reaches Maury’s apartment, it is deep night. HOW DOES TIME WORK IN L.A.?
  • GASP GUYS IT’S WESLEY AND HE LOOKS KINDA BADASS.
  • Man, I love Alexis Denisof.
  • Well the badass lasted as long as it took Angel to carelessly knock the crossbow out of his hand.
  • But he tries to put it back on with “In point of fact, I no longer work for the Council.”
  • Angel is openly laughing at him.
  • Ewwwwww goop dripping on Wesley from the ceiling.
  • Oh boy, Wesley is still not good at hand to hand fighting.
  • And in all of this, we’re still misdirected on Maury (fine, Barney), because we’re told the demon Wes is tracking is collecting demons with specific powers, and Barney is empathic. But we’re also misdirected by the fact that Wes himself is tracking the wrong demon.
  • But Barney knows Wes is tracking him. Interesting.
  • Yes, Wes, this kiss with Cordelia went better than the one when she was still in high school, but let’s not go there.
  • And with one “what’s a rogue demon?” from Cordelia, Wesley once again deflates.
  • Angel’s quiet irritation with Wes is quite fun.
  • Wes just said “the hell you say,” to which I say “the hell Wes talks like that?”
  • Wes is now wearing leather pants for the sake of a chafing joke, but whoever was doing those earlier we-don’t-know-it’s-Wesley-yet shots was definitely in faded black jeans. Come on, continuity. Get it together.


THESE ARE DIFFERENT PANTS, RIGHT? I'M NOT TAKING CRAZY PILLS?

  • And now Cordy tells Barney about her visions and oops.
  • Because Angel just found the Kungai demon and his horn is missing and he’s dying.
  • Barney: “How old are you? Twenty-something?” D&Z: She’s like eighteen.
  • Well, Charisma is older but dude.
  • I dunno why Barney thinks the visions are in Cordelia’s eyes though. It’s more a brain thing, no?
  • And Wes has abandoned his leather for … a cream linen suit? That’s like when Buffy changed into a white shirt to patrol the sewers.
  • I’m also extremely curious as to Wesley’s luggage while he rogue demon hunts. Why was he packing the linen suit? I get the costume change as a heavy-handed nod to who he is/who he pretends to be, but for real, how much was he carrying on his motorcycle?
  • Wesley, with a quite bedside voice, “Fish will die.” Great job translating.
  • Seriously I love how much Alexis Denisof leans into being a twerp. He’s not afraid of looking silly.
  • Cordelia, hog tied and gagged, finally sees the blobby grey thing from her vision: she’s in the storeroom of an auction house.
  • Gasp a nameless Wolfram & Hart attorney is in the auction house! If only it were Lila.
  • We haven’t had Lindsey back. Maybe they hadn’t decided yet who they wanted their principal W&H characters to be.
  • We’ve introduced a new stat called Wesley Prat-falls, because of what a physical clown he is.

Throwback to case in point

  • Good for Cordy, kicking Barney’s stupid ass.
  • Also I noticed that Wes was rocking some scruff when he wore leather. Now he’s back in linen, he’s clean shaven.
  • But now that he helped save Cordelia, he’s combining the leather jacket with linen pants … and silly bravado about being a rogue demon hunter, while hoping he’ll be asked to stay.



Daniel’s Thoughts:

  • Angel’s trying to talk to the Oracles to bring Doyle back.
  • And the Oracles are right actually – he had a noble death.   He saved many people. That shouldn’t be undone.
  • Angel doesn’t yet know that the visions have been transferred.
  • Doyle is still in the opening credits.
  • And everyone’s sad.
  • Guest starring: Alexis Denisof!
  • “I’m staying right here! Oh, I gotta go.”
  • So we’re still doing the Cordelia is an actress thing.
  • Cute new demon – Barney- needs help from Angel.
  • I love that Angel’s so offended by the stereotype that vampires sleep in coffins.
  • The actors playing the casting directors are hilarious.  And they work well off each other.
  • Cordelia’s first vision.
  • Barney is telling Angel about the guy pursuing him.  We see bits and pieces of this leather clad motorcyclist.  So obviously this is supposed to be a big reveal.
  • Cordelia made the connection between the kiss and the visions – which is right, but also a leap.
  • Cordelia just kissing everyone.
  • Oh hey, the leather-clad demon hunter is Wesley.  He’s pretending to be all tough and it’s cute.
  • Angel easily gets the weapon away from him.
  • And he’s playing it all goofy, because that’s how  he was on Buffy…tho things will soon change.
  • So I guess the other reveal here is that Barney isn’t the demon that Wesley is after.  But Wesley is going after the demon that’s…going after Barney.
  • It’s only dudes she’s kissing.  Also how does she know that it didn’t work?
  • “What’s a rogue demon?”  - classy Cordelia.
  • Angel speaks Korean.  Who knew?
  • Oh, nothing. Demons in towels getting’ massages in Koreatown.
ats110_parting_gifts_00709.jpg 

  • “Messages from the PTB” – (powers that be) - Golly, Internet slang
  • Hey. Cordelia has a tramp stamp.  Did we know this? [SMG has one too, though they usually cover it up for the show when they remember. - Z]
 ats110_parting_gifts_00784.jpg

  • Evil reveal!  Barney’s not a good demon!
  • “What are you, 20-something?” – Cordelia’s supposed to be 18/19 right out of college.  I wonder if this is supposed to be an inside joke since Charisma is almost 30 at the time of this viewing.
  • And now Wesley is dressed as a lawyer from the south in the 50s. 
Ah say, ah say, yer honah


  • Wesley: I’m useless. A fool.  A sniveling great big – Angel: (looking at the picture) – Ugly, Gray blobby thing.  Wesley: Ugly. Gray, blobby thing – what?
  • Wow, these demons are riled up easily.
  • Alexis is really good at the physical comedy.
  • Cordelia stabbing Barney in the back feels like a an old vamp staking moment.
  • Ooh and when Barney-demons die, they go poof.  Well, they sorta deflate like a balloon? [I think that was his life essence being sucked out by the Kungai demon's horn? - Z]
  • Wesley just wants a place to belong.  Aww, don’t we all. 


Crossfire!

Barney: *backhands Cordelia for the second time*
Zelda: Stop hitting Cordelia in the face! That’s the moneymaker!


Favorite Lines:

Zelda: “I’m going to thrash you within an inch of your life AND THEN I’M GONNA TAKE THAT INCH.” – Wes (Alexis’s delivery is insane and I love it) 

Daniel: “I’m usesless. A fool. A sniveling great big” “Ugly grey blobby thing.” “Yes, an ugly grey blobby thing—what?” - Wesley/Angel/Wesley


Arc/Continuity:

First Appearance: Wesley Wyndham-Pryce
Recurring: The Oracles
Generally Known TV Face: Maury Sterling
Buffy Crossover: Wesley Wyndam-Pryce
Whedonverse Hat Trick: Alexis Denisof (Wesley Wyndham-Pryce on both Angel and Buffy, Benedick in Much Ado About Nothing, Senator Daniel Perrin in Dollhouse), Maury Sterling (Barney in Angel, Eddy in Dollhouse ep “Echo”)


Stats:

Cordelia’s Hair – big looping curls (pinned up for commercial audition), pulled back in a pony with a bunch of butterfly clips
Dead Humans – 0
Dead Undeads – 2
Dead Flashbacks – 0
Dead Lawyers – 0
Cordelia Has a Vision – 1
Wesley Prat-falls – 2
Lawyered Ex Machina – 1 (W&H wins the bidding for Cordelia)
Evil Reveal – 1 (Barney the empath demon)
Unevil Reveal – 2 (Shiatsu Massage Demon, Kungai demon)
Shenanigans Called – 0
Apocalypse Called – 0
Prophecy Called – 0

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

One of the Cheaper Baldwins


Episode 1.09: Hero. Original Airdate: 11.30.99



 “Doyle, Angel and Cordelia assist a clan of mixed-heritage demons targeted for extermination by a group of demons known as The Scourge.”





Daniel’s Thoughts:

  • “One of the cheaper Baldwins” Heh
  • Ok, Cordelia is narrating something here.  I think it’s an ad or something.
  • Yeah it’s an ad. Look, Cordelia is thinking here.  She’s trying at least. She wants her day job to succeed.
  • Glenn Quinn must be a functioning drug addict at this point because I never notice it in his performance.
  • Again with calling Glenn Quinn average and ordinary-looking.  He’s not!  I feel like I would have had the same problem had they cast Ryan Reynolds as Xander.
  • Oh, one of the Gunns is in this.
  • “I don’t see Angel putting on tights. … Now I do and it’s really disturbing.”
  • So much Buffy talk.
  • Interestingly, Angel’s not keeping it secret.  He’s telling Doyle everything that happened in the previous episode that he missed with the rewind.  I think this is part of Angel being a central character.  He can’t be as broody & introverted as he normally is.
  • “If it’s a fight they want…can’t someone else give it to them?”
  • And Doyle tells Cordelia.  So everyone’s in the loop.
  • Doyle’s struggling to tell Cordelia the truth about himself.  But it’s so that they can possibly have a future relationship together: A woman that has shown absolutely no interest in him.  Why can’t Doyle try to form a friendship with Cordelia instead – tell her about him because he wants to strengthen their friendship?  It’s so cliché; such a trope – pursuing a person who has no interest in you.  And usually in tv and movies it works – which is why people in real life are so fucked up.
  • I like that this series really explores different kinds of demons & monsters , i.e. good demons & monsters.  It’s something Buffy explores later in their series but Angel pretty much establishes from the beginning.
  • So Sean Gunn plays the same kind of demon that Doyle is.
  • And we see the history of Doyle’s first vision.  At this point it feels more like a punishment.
  • The demons that Angel & Doyle are trying to protect look like zombies.  It’s weird make-up design choice.

  • I mean ‘demon’ is kind of a deceptive description for what they are on both Angel Buffy.  As Buffy and Anya say – demons here come from hell dimensions…but not necessarily the hell that we’re familiar with from Christian folklore.
  • I like how Doyle assumes that Angel is the prophesied savior and not himself.
  • I like the design for the Scourge demons.

  • Angel is always really good at undercover.
  • I don’t like Charisma’s choice here when she says, “Demon?” when it’s revealed that Doyle is half-demon.  It sounds more like disgust than surprise without any introspection underneath.  (which it isn’t, but it sounds it.) I usually like Charisma’s deliveries as Cordelia but this ain’t it. It’s just one word but there’s so much that should be attached to it.  This could be a directorial choice as we're supposed to be surprised later when it turns out Cordy doesn't actually care.
  • Oh hey, pursuing the girl who constantly rejects you does work.  Surprise surprise.  No wonder incels are a thing.
  • The only thing I like about Doyle kissing Cordelia is that it transfers his gift to her. And I'm not sure how aware he is of that.
  • And it’s very sad.  Doyle dies a hero which is much better than other characters on this show got.

  • “Is that it? Am I done?” The video out of context is what always gets me.  That’s good writing right there.


Zelda’s Thoughts:

  • I remember really liking this episode when I read the script and then on revisits thinking the Scourge stuff was so heavy-handed and kind of breaking canon with what we thought we knew about demons from the Buffyverse. But I think the Doyle stuff probably still works. Let’s see, I guess.
  • Cordelia narrating the commercial pitch is delightful. “Maybe that bald Star Trek guy or one of the cheaper Baldwins.” I die.
  • And of course she stars as the schmuckbait in the commercial.
  • But wait! That shadowy hero … is … Angel the Dark Avenger.
  • Aw man I love Glenn Quinn’s bad acting as he tries to read the manila envelope cue cards. “Angel Investigations is the BEST. Our rats are low.”

  • He’s so nervous and stiff, but he’s actually sweetly earnest on some of it, which will play well when it breaks our hearts on the repeat.
  • Meanwhile Angel’s working on his agro on the punching bag.
  • I guess I’m proud of Angel for confessing this quickly to Doyle about the truth of the day he erased, even if he fudges the narrative to make it sound like he and Buffy made the decision together to undo his humanness.
  • But also heh, he calls Doyle out for not telling him about the Oracles.
  • Doyle, says he would have chosen the pleasure of the flesh over duty and honor, saying he’s not strong enough to make that kind of choice. But we’ll see.
  • Anyway, onto the plot I guess. What’s that telltale march of demon nationalism (for lack of a different term?) we hear, as two demon teens run in fear?
  • Angel and Doyle find a host of demons hiding under the floorboards, who lost their money to someone promising to help them escape to a remote island, far from the Scourge, and hey it’s a refugee story.
  • Reeeeeeeeally religious demons who believe Angel is their prophesied Promised One who will save them from the Scourge.
  • Hoooooooow has Angel not heard of the Scourge but Doyle has? Just curious. And by curious I mean I’m calling my first of several shenanigans on the Scourge.
  • Oh hey Flashback!Doyle meets Sean Gunn who’s a fellow Brachen demon like Doyle, looking for refuge from the Scourge, and we finally know they’re “pureblood demons” who don’t like half-breeds, and like didn’t Anya tell us at the end of Buffy Season Three that none of these demons are full demons, that only giant Mayor Snakes are real demons?
  • And to drive home the Scourge-Nazi metaphor, Doyle says since he was raised human, he’s not the same as the other half-demons. He’s also human-passing, something that gets pointed out several times. But human-passing doesn’t matter to those who care about “blood purity.”
  • Sean Gunn: “If you don’t believe that we share a common family, believe that we share a common enemy.”
  • Oh hey, was this Doyle’s first vision? After he turned away Sean Gunn.
  • Flashback!Doyle follows the clues and finds the hiding Brachen demons, slaughtered.
  • The metaphor is good, in terms of metaphor and upsettingness, I don’t think the actual way they describe the Scourge as working holds much water, especially in terms of our never hearing of them before, and never hearing of them after.
  • Cordelia, re: refugee demons: “Aren’t we supposed to be fighting the forces of darkness?” // Doyle: “They’re not forces of darkness, they’re half-human. And they’re in trouble.”
  • All this being said, and keeping in mind that mini essay I wrote on the evolution of demon morality in Sunnydale, I do like the new colors Angel  brings to the discussion, that not all demons are evil (but somehow it’s more okay to kill bad demons than bad humans, which makes things … a grayer gray in general)
  • Rieff, the rebellious teen demon: “Right, a choice: where do I want to be hated? You wouldn’t get it, you’re passing.”
  • And he tells a story of the one day his also-passing mom took him out in public—Halloween.
  • And the marching Scourge come pouring past, with Doyle and the kid running and hiding and HOW DO NO HUMANS CLOCK THIS. That’s my thing. It’s playing into the fascist/nationalist narrative, and I get that, but those are all usually government sanctioned groups. These guys are … setting cars on fire in Los Angeles. It doesn’t hold up. I want it to hold up, because it’s a great Doyle episode, but it’s gonna keep bothering me. So that’s shenanigan #2.
  • Hmmm the Scourge bros look a little like Ken in the Buffy  ep “Anne.” He wasn’t part of the Scourge though.
  • Angel breaks Doyle’s neck to get in with the Scourge and help divert them. Luckily for us, a broken neck won’t kill Doyle. That comes later.
  • And now, Cordelia finally knows that Doyle is part demon. At least he was almost about to tell her earlier this ep, before the vision truth-blocked him.
  • *snort* Angel’s hair’s all combed now that he’s undercover fascist.
  • Aw dang, a mole ratted out how the refugee demons are escaping.
  • And the mole is rewarded by getting melted by their new toy, the Beacon.
  • I guess it’s lucky Angel isn’t hit directly by the light in the Beacon demo.
  • I appreciate that Cordelia’s anger about not being told Doyle is half-demon is that he thought she was superficial—she doesn’t care about that, it’s way less important than that he’s short, and—hey! On behalf of shorties, hey!
  • And then she tells him to ask her out and it’s sweet but he’s gonna die thanks I hate it.
  • Angel’s about to jump onto the Beacon to shut it off. He looks at Doyle, who says “The good fight, yeah? You never know until you’ve been tested. I get that now.” And he knocks Angel off the platform before he can make the jump, kisses Cordelia goodbye (unconsciously passing on the visions to her), and makes the jump.
  • And, melting and screaming, he manages to deactivate the Beacon just before he melts into death. It’s grotesque and heartbreaking.
  • And we end with Angel and Cordelia watching the video of Doyle’s attempt at the commercial.

  • “When the chips are down, and you’re at the end of your rope, you need someone that you can count on. And that’s what you’ll find here—someone who’ll go all the way, who’ll protect you no matter what. So don’t lose hope. Come on over to our offices and you’ll see that there’s still heroes in this world.”

  • “Is that it? Am I done?”
  • And while I really want to leave with that heartbreaking moment, and yes I’m tearing up, I have to ask: they only killed the leader of the Scourge. HOW DO WE NEVER HEAR FROM THEM AGAIN. EVER. Shenanigan #3. (Google tells me they're written down as a potential threat to baby Connor. Don't care.)
  • I’ll miss Glenn Quinn.


Crossfire!

Cordelia: (looking appraisingly at Doyle) We need someone who’s average.
Daniel: He’s not average!
Cordelia: Come over here into the light, and let’s see if we can create some cheekbones.
Daniel: HE’S GOT CHEEKBONES!


Favorite Lines:

Daniel: “I don’t see Angel putting on some tights … now I do and it’s really disturbing.” – Doyle
Zelda: “When the chips are down, and you’re at the end of your rope, you need someone that you can count on. And that’s what you’ll find here—someone who’ll go all the way, who’ll protect you no matter what. So don’t lose hope. Come on over to our offices and you’ll see that there’s still heroes in this world. Is that it? Am I done?” – Doyle


Arc/Continuity:

Generally Known TV Face: Lee Arenberg, Sean Gunn
Whedonverse Hat Trick: Not quite hat tricks, but both Anthony Cistaro and Sean Gunn will reappear on Angel as different demons


Stats:

Cordelia’s Hair – big loopy curls (but an updo for the fantasy commercial)
Dead Humans – 1
Dead Undeads – 2
Dead Flashbacks – 4 (Demons)
Dead Lawyers – 0
Doyle Has a Vision – 2
Lawyered Ex Machina – 0
Evil Reveal – 0
Unevil Reveal – 0
Shenanigans Called – 3
Apocalypse Called – 0
Prophecy Called – 1 (the demons are waiting for their chosen one, whom they think is Angel but is actually Doyle)