Written by David Fury and Jeannine Renshaw
Directed by James A. Contner
Doyle is dead and nothing is okay. Angel is trying to convince the Oracles to fold time again and bring Doyle again. They refuse. Doyle’s sacrifice was a good one; it ensured that Angel would be able to continue his own mission. Angel’s not so willing to let his first real friend just be dead. That argument doesn’t sway him, so he points out that he might not be much use to them without his vision guy. They hint that that’s already been taken care of, and they kick him out.
A terrified demon guy is running away from someone on a motorcycle. Would this be the guy who’s supposed to be Angel’s new helper? And who could be on that motorcycle?
Cordelia is listlessly sorting through coffee mugs in the office. Angel asks her about it. She’s looking for Doyle’s favorite mug, so it can be special. He didn’t have one. They’re both pretty down. She wants some kind of tangible connection to Doyle and can’t find anything. Angel suggests that she take the day off, but she thinks he’s just saying that so he can be by himself for brooding purposes. Then her alarm goes off for a commercial audition, and she abruptly leaves. Angel takes a moment to recover from his whiplash, and then Cordelia runs into that demon guy on her way through the door. He wants help. And he’s very annoying. And an empath demon. Who knows nothing about vampires. Angel finds him annoying too, and he’s a little touchy about the stereotypes about vampires.
Cordelia is at the audition, and she’s having trouble. Her grief won’t wait for a better time to attack. In the first take, she starts crying. It doesn’t help that the commercial is about removing stains, which is sort of accidentally a metaphor for how Doyle is gone. In the second one, she gets a vision! Which makes her totally spaz out during the performance. Yeah, she’s probably not going to get called back in.
Motorcycle guy pulls to a stop outside some building. The office building? Angel is still listening to the demon guy, who has been on the run from motorcycle guy across several states. Motorcycle guy has a bag full of weapons, and he pulls out a crossbow. Demon guy gets a little shifty when Angel asks why motorcycle guy is after him. He’s been using his empath powers to cheat at poker. He’s not making a great case for not being evil.
Motorcycle guy finds some yellow goo. Also, we still haven’t seen his face, which makes it pretty likely he’s someone we’d recognize.
Cordelia comes back to the office, wearing another super weird shirt. It would have been a perfectly serviceable cap-sleeve tee, but then someone decided it should have long sleeves precariously attached to it by only a handful of stitches.
She heads straight for Angel, not speaking, and grabs him and kisses him. He’s very confused and maybe a little grossed out. He makes the best face.
Cordelia has realized that Doyle used that kiss to pass his visions to her, and she’s trying to get rid of it now. Angel realizes that this means she is his new vision guy. He makes a face like he’s not super thrilled about that, which is hilarious. Cordelia also isn’t super thrilled about it. He asks her about the vision, and she dismissively says it’s about some gray blobby thing. The point, in her book, is that she get these visions gone, because they’re the worst. She doesn’t care who she has to kiss to get rid of them.
Demon guy comes back in, and Cordelia proves how much she means it. She kisses him. No dice. He’s psyched, though. Angel gets her to draw the gray blobby thing while he heads out to investigate the demon’s apartment. He actually teases Cordelia about kissing the demon before he leaves! Hah!
The demon’s apartment building seriously needs to get its wiring checked. That’s got to be a fire hazard. Motorcycle guy is following Angel in the dark hallway. When he gets to the demon’s door, motorcycle guy kicks him through it and aims a crossbow at him. Then he steps into the light. It’s Wesley! (HELLO WESLEY IT IS SO VERY NICE TO SEE YOU!) The intimidation factor of all the black leather is somewhat ruined by all our memories of how much of a hapless dork he was in Sunnydale.
Angel finds Wesley’s confident attitude rather amusing, and quickly disarms him. His bravado vanishes immediately, and it’s glorious. He seems super uncomfortable in the leather. Also he’s been fired from the Council (but he’d have you think he left them, so there), and he’s describing himself as a rogue demon hunter. He’s been on the trail of a demon that’s been killing other demons for their powers. Said demon is waiting on the ceiling to jump them. Fight time! Wesley actually manages to land a crossbow bolt, and the demon flees.
Demon guy is now using his empath power to offer unwelcome sympathy and advice to Cordelia. She tells him to buzz off, then apologizes for being too harsh. She tells him about Doyle. Angel and Wesley arrive, and the demon panics at the sight of Wesley. Cordelia greets Wesley with a kiss, which goes way better than their last kiss. Also, she didn’t actually recognize him. And this kiss also failed to rid her of the visions. She seems to still have a bit of her crush on him, because she’s in awe when he tells her what he’s been up to.
Wesley finds the demon he’s been chasing in Angel’s books and drops the exposition on them. Demon guy is very nervous (and still annoying). Angel takes his book back from Wesley. Angel gears up to follow the demon to Korea Town. Wesley is furious that Angel doesn’t want him to come along (because this was his case in the first place), but Angel isn’t interested in working with anyone else who could get killed. Angel leaves, and Wesley sulks. No, wait, it’s just that his leathers are super uncomfortable.
Angel is at a spa in Korea Town, and he speaks Korean! The guy tells him what he needs to know after he gives him some money. He heads into the back room to find the demon. Instead, he finds another demon who’s basically just an average dude chilling at the spa, looking forward to a shiatsu massage. Hahaha.
At the office, demon guy is being annoying again. Cordelia is working on her stretch of the blobby gray thing, and she tells demon guy about her fun new visions. She blames Doyle, but demon guy points out that Doyle must have thought she was worthy to have them. He trusted her with this huge important thing. She was looking for something of Doyle’s to hold onto. Well, now she has this.
Angel finds the demon, but he’s in no condition to fight. In fact, he’s in his last moments, being tended to by an old Korean lady.
Cordelia is making coffee for herself and demon guy, and then demon guy steps out of earshot and pulls out a phone. Le gasp! He’s the real villain! Wesley was hunting the wrong prey the whole time! And now he’s targeting Cordelia for her shiny new vision powers. He rips out the phone cord. He’s way more sinister than annoying now. He’s using her emotions against her, to mess with her. He gloats a bit about how he successfully tricked her, too. He grabs her. He’s planning to rip her eyes out.
The dying demon grabs Angel’s arm. He can’t speak the demon’s language, though. But Wesley can, a bit! And he’s abandoned his leathers for more of a Mark Twain look. Very light-colored suit. The demon is dying because the horn on his forehead was broken off.
Cordelia fakes a vision of demon guy in pain, then knees him in the groin and tries to run. He knocks her out.
Wesley gets enough out of the demon for Angel to realize that he was killed by the annoying empath demon. Which means Cordelia’s in trouble.
Yes she is. In fact, she’s bound and gagged amid a bunch of creepy auction items. And also that gray blobby thing, which is one of those stupid modern art sculptures. Demon guy and some dude walk in, discussing whether or not they should remove Cordelia’s eyes or sell her intact.
Wesley’s on a major guilt trip because he had the wrong demon in his sights. Angel doesn’t have time for Wesley’s emotional issues. He finds Cordelia’s crumpled up sketch of the sculpture while Wesley is muttering about how he’s a complete failure. Angel knows what the sculpture is, and that’s a solid lead to trace back to Cordelia. Also, he wants Wesley’s help. Wesley recovers enough of his grit to be willing to help. They figure out that the dying demon was talking about an auction.
Which is in progress. One of the bidders is a Wolfram & Hart lawyer. Cordelia (or, at least, her eyes) is the next item up for bid. She stalls by talking herself up as a desirable item, which is an effective strategy until one of the guys fighting over her simply kills his competition. And then the W&H lawyer outbids everyone, and she only wants the eyes, not Cordelia alive.
Angel figures out where the auction is taking place, and he and Wesley head out. Cordelia’s about to get her eyes ripped out when they arrive. Angel starts beating up goons, and Wesley tries to help, but he’s somewhat hindered by the fact that he duct taped his only weapon to his calf. He eventually succeeds at freeing Cordelia. They’re about to flee when annoying empath demon guy punches Wesley. Wesley recognizes him and is furious at him for what he was about to do with Cordelia (and probably for his own failure not to recognize him as the threat all along) and tackles him. It’s the first time he actually does well in a fight. Go Wesley!
The W&H lawyer leaves, talking someone at the firm on her cell. She doesn’t even have to say Angel’s name for it to be clear who interrupted the transaction.
Though Wesley’s determination and anger may have helped him in his fight, he still has no idea what he’s doing and ends up pinned. So Cordelia stabs the demon with the horn of that other demon, which can suck out the life-force of anyone it pierces. Bye, annoying guy! He turns black and shrivels into a steaming mass.
Cordelia throws her arms around Angel, who is still in vamp face. And Angel says he couldn’t have done it without Wesley. The praise clearly means a great deal to him.
Back at Angel’s apartment, Cordelia is putting her sketch in a frame, and Angel is setting the table for breakfast. It represents Doyle’s visions. Wesley is getting ready to depart, but it becomes increasingly clear that he really wants them to invite him to stay. Eventually, they do, and he’s so happy it’s kind of pathetic.
Even though “Parting Gifts” is the first episode without Doyle and the first episode with Wesley, it’s not especially memorable. I blame the Plot A stuff—specifically Barney. Wesley is fantastic, and Angel and Cordelia dealing with the loss of Doyle are both very compelling, and Cordelia being the one who has the visions now is excellent, but Barney the Empath Demon is far more obnoxious than he is threatening, and a lot of his humor falls flat. If they were trying to trick us into thinking he was Doyle’s replacement, I think they failed. A different character in his place could maybe have made this a great episode.
Angel first reacts to Doyle’s death by trying to undo it. I like this. If you know about a mystical undo button, it’s stupid not to try pressing it. I also like his determination to fight solo from now on because he doesn’t want to risk anyone else’s life. What ends up trumping that is his compassion for Wesley. In the space of a day, he goes from pretty much just rolling his eyes at Wesley to not letting him beat himself up and actually extending him some friendly overtures. What I really like is that at first it seems like Angel’s blowing Wesley off just because he thinks he’s an incompetent buffoon, but it’s actually that he doesn’t want him to get killed. Right in the feels. And we can see that Doyle’s efforts with Angel weren’t in vain. Doyle was Angel’s first friend, but Doyle was the one pursuing that friendship. Cordelia has become his friend through their shared experiences in the past few months, and now particularly with going through Doyle’s death together. Angel’s friendship with Wesley is distinct because Angel is the one reaching out this time.
Cordelia’s desire to find something of Doyle’s to hang onto for comfort is very endearing. This is the first time we’ve really seen her grieving since that one boyfriend Kevin from “Prophecy Girl” died, and that time it was only her initial reaction. It feels very Cordelia, particularly when she pairs her sadness with indignation that Doyle gave her the visions. She won’t let a little thing like grief get in the way of her having a beef with someone, and that’s kind of refreshing. And intensely painful vision headaches are definitely a mixed blessing, so she has good reason to want to re-gift them. I’m really excited to see how quickly the visions will start sparking serious empathy in her, because empathy is not something she often displays.
Wesley isn’t in the opening credits yet, but I don’t care! I’ve wanted to talk about him since he first showed up in Buffy S3, so I’m not going to wait a whole episode to start now. Of all the characters who eventually get promoted to opening credits status, I think Wesley was the one who got the most initial development. (Yes, including Spike.) He was a pompous ninny completely convinced that he knew what he was doing when he first showed up, and if he’d stayed that way, he would’ve been a very forgettable character. But he didn’t. In his very first Buffy episode, he was already starting to get disabused of some of his lofty opinions of himself and his comfortable notions of the world. By the time he exited that series, he might not have become any less dorky, but he had certainly matured. He went from lording his position over Giles to humbly asking Buffy how he could help stop the Mayor after she rendered his job meaningless. He was very worthy of being promoted to series regular status, and now it’s finally happened. There were a few points of contrast between Angel and Doyle, but the contrast with Wesley is like night and day, and he’s also a more effective counterpoint to Cordelia. His character development picks up effectively where it left off in “Graduation Day” and keeps moving. He’s been trying his utmost to prove to himself and the world that he doesn’t need the Watchers’ Council. He can get stuff done and make a difference all on his own, thank you very much. He needed the twist that he’d been chasing the wrong demon for six months to snap him out of his delusions. Luckily, Angel was there to make use of him before he could spiral too far into misery over being a failure. They didn’t interact much in Sunnydale, but this is a promising start.
“I’m a rogue demon hunter.”
“Wow.” *starry eyes* “…What’s a rogue demon?”
The Watcher's Diary
In this blog, I'll be reviewing, analyzing, and generally fangirling over excellent television. Exhibit A: the Whedonverse.