Written by Shawn Ryan
Directed by James A. Contner
Apparently Angel is so tone-deaf that he doesn’t realize how terrible he sounds when he sings, because he’s been gracing Caritas of a “medley” of “Tears of a Clown” and “Send in the Clowns.” Mercifully, this happened offscreen. Lorne is impressed by how much heart Angel’s been putting into it. And Darla is there at Caritas, dressed very nicely. Wait, so is this whole thing a dream sequence? That would explain Angel’s attitude about singing. Yeah, it’s a dream sequence. All the other patrons suddenly vanish so that Angel and Darla can have a romantic dance by themselves. Darla seems to have Angel wrapped around her finger. They kiss. A lot. Angel wakes up.
Cordelia is getting tired of cleaning the hotel, but she’ll do it if it keeps their office out of her living room. Gunn shows up, annoyed that Angel stood him up for a meeting with some demon informant guy or something. Apparently Angel is still asleep (it’s 3:30 in the afternoon). Cordelia volunteers herself and Wesley, but Gunn is skeptical of their fighting skills. Then David Nabbit shows up. He hasn’t met Gunn. Gunn doesn’t particularly want to meet him, because he’s obviously a huge dork. David is just as surprised as Gunn that Angel’s still asleep, but then Angel comes downstairs. Angel wants financial advice from David about the hotel. Cordelia’s a bit turned on by David’s fast-paced financial speak. Then David leaves, absolutely psyched that he got to help out A.I. Even if it was in a really boring way.
Gunn still wants Angel to move his butt and help him out with his demon situation. Angel is ready to move his butt, but he wants Cordy and Wes to come, to Gunn’s annoyance. They meet Gunn’s very skittish informant at a parking garage. He’s too scared to tell them anything now. Gunn starts getting really rough with him. Angel decides he’s taking over the case. A bunch of vampires come rushing in, working for the guy the informant is so scared of. They fight. They win, but it takes somewhat longer than usual and all four of them end up sitting exhausted in front of a car. Gunn is annoyed that he’s still no closer to this demon gang leader. He leaves the other three sitting there. They head back to the hotel. Angel is super tired and wants to go back to bed, even though he’s only been awake a few hours.
Cordelia’s apartment is super cold because ghost Dennis likes a chilly atmosphere. Cordy gets slammed with a vision. It’s of Gunn in trouble. Dennis zooms the phone over to her, and she calls Angel. Who is asleep. In his dream, he’s wondering where that ringing sound is coming from. He and Darla are on the beach, in beach chairs and wearing sunglasses...at night. She manages to distract him enough that he ignores the ringing until it stops. Also he’s wearing a swimsuit.
Cordelia can’t reach Wesley either. She leaves him a message and then heads to find Gunn by herself, pretty convinced she’s about to die. She makes it to his place and finds him having a quarterstaff fight against some other dude. She whacks his opponent over the head with her axe. Fortunately, she only used the flat of it, because he and Gunn were just having a friendly sparring match. The rest of the crew was enjoying the show and thinks that was hilarious.
Angel’s still dreaming about Darla. There’s a knocking sound now. Darla is telling him how she has to go away. Angel wants to protect her. The knocking gets louder. Wesley is hammering nails into a coffin. Then Darla’s gone and Wesley’s right there. Angel wakes up. Well, not entirely, because he’s now throttling Wesley. While still naked. Well. Not actually naked. He’s wearing a pair of white boxers, but they’re only visible because of that 16x9 vs. 4x3 aspect ratio issue I mentioned last time. Oops. But apparently Angel sleeps naked. I suppose we’ve known that ever since “Amends,” but it’s always good to have a reminder.
Angel is finally awake enough to realize he’s strangling Wesley. And also that he’s naked. Wesley tells him about Cordy’s vision, but he’d really prefer Angel get dressed before they discuss it further.
Cordy has finished bandaging the head of the poor guy she brained with her axe. Gunn wants her to leave now. He’s not happy with her attempts to rescue him so far. She refuses to leave his side until she’s sure he’ll be safe. Also...while she was inside, Angel’s car got stolen. At the hotel, Wes and Angel would also like to use Angel’s car.
Gunn thinks he can find Angel’s car, because he knows the guys in town who steal vintage cars. He intends to do Cordelia this one favor so that she’ll leave him alone. That’s not how she wants it to go down.
Since Angel’s car isn’t there, he and Wes have to go on Wes’s motorcycle. Angel really doesn’t want to ride on the back of a bike, wearing a pink helmet. Wesley manages to keep a reasonably straight face as he insists that Angel follow California helmet laws.
Gunn and Cordy arrive at Henry’s chop shop. Henry sends them to Desmond, who’s at some party hosted by Tito. Before they go, Gunn comes down on Henry for stealing some of the local cars. He’s only supposed to steal from other areas, not prey on the locals. Henry doesn’t appreciate Gunn interfering in his business. Gunn doesn’t care. He and Cordy leave. A big, deformed-looking demon emerges from behind Henry’s “office,” accompanied by a couple of vamp cronies. This is Deevak, the demon Gunn’s been looking for. He wants Gunn dead.
Gunn and Cordy show up to the party house, where Gunn finds some of his men, who are supposed to be patrolling their territory. He gives them a lecture and sends them back to their watch. Cordelia isn’t very impressed by his approach with his guys. She also thinks she can handle herself quite well at this party, thank you very much. Well...it’s not the kind of party she’s used to going to. She’s the only white person there, and the music is hiphop. Or possibly rap? I’m not sure. I don’t like either genre. One of the girls there is happy to see Gunn, but less happy to see his company. Cordelia becomes excruciatingly awkward trying to introduce herself to this girl. Gunn asks about Desmond. He’s there somewhere. Cordelia is pretty sure most of the partygoers are criminals, which Gunn feels is unfair racial profiling. He asks if David Nabbit is really so saintly in all his mountains of wealth. Actually yes. He made a lot of his money creating software that helps people with disabilities and heads multi-million dollar charities.
Desmond is there! Before Gunn can finish shaking him down about Angel’s car, vampires attack the party. Gunn starts fighting. Cordelia helps, but gets shoved down. The vamps are really whaling on Gunn. The girl he was talking to earlier gets thrown through some glass shelves and ends up with a large shard of glass sticking out of her throat. She pulls it out. Bad plan. Cordelia helps her keep the bleeding under control. Sort of. Gunn manages to scare off the vamps, and then he and Cordy take the girl to the hospital. Cordy explains what happened to the doctor, who then shoos both of them out of the room. She’ll probably be okay, thanks to Cordelia, whose white sweater is now covered in blood.
Cordy finds Gunn beating himself up over almost letting his friend die because he was so focused on fighting the vampires. It seems like all this is leftover baggage from what happened to his little sister. While they’re talking about it, Desmond tries to sneak past them, but Cordelia catches him. It’s hilarious. She demands to know where Angel’s car is.
Angel and Wes pull up to the party house and intercept one of the girls who’s leaving. They try to find out from her where Gunn went. She seems extremely rattled. Wesley gets her to calm down a little, and then Angel head-butts her and she vamps out! He wants information, now.
Cordy and Gunn find Angel’s car where Desmond said it would be. Alas, Cordelia isn’t entirely sure where the keys are, which means Gunn can’t ditch her just yet. Turns out the reason they can’t find the keys is that Deevak has them. Gunn yells for Cordy to leave. She won’t. Deevak grabs Gunn by the throat and hoists him off the ground. Then Deevak morphs into human form. He’s the same informant guy from the beginning of the episode, and he doesn’t appreciate the way Gunn treated him. Cordy sprays him with mace, which gets him to let go of both her and Gunn. He morphs back into Deevak, ready for another round.
Wes and Angel come roaring into the garage on the bike, crashing it into one of the vamps. Angel uses the hated pink helmet to beat up another vamp. The A.I. team manages to take out the vamps while Gunn fights Deevak. Cordy throws Angel her axe, and he wedges it into Deevak’s skull, killing him. Gunn is okay, and the car only lost a side mirror.
Wesley found Angel’s keys! Unfortunately, they’re now covered in some kind of demonic bodily fluid. Angel would rather hotwire his car than use those nasty keys. Gunn grudgingly thanks Cordy for saving his life, but she tells him that he’s the danger to himself, not Deevak. He’s self-destructing. Gunn thinks that’s a load of crap, but Cordelia doesn’t back down. She’s not going to leave him alone until he cools off. He gets in his truck, but it seems like he and Cordy are friends now.
Angel returns to the hotel, where Darla is waiting for him. Another dream sequence, I presume. She wants to give his friends a talking-to for not appreciating Angel like he deserves. In the meantime, she wants to take care of him. In a sex way. The camera starts switching back and forth between the dream scene and Angel asleep, where we see that Darla is actually there, climbing all over him and apparently making these dreams happen. Yikes.
“First Impressions” isn’t terrible, but it’s definitely one of those episodes you only rewatch when you’re doing a full series marathon. The main Plot A about Gunn vs. Deevak isn’t very interesting, and this definitely isn’t the best part of the Angel/Darla plotline. But that doesn’t mean the episode doesn’t accomplish anything. Gunn might be in the opening credits now, but he won’t actually be part of the Angel Investigations team until he’s connected with each of its members. He and Angel have a reasonably good working relationship, but as established in the first two episodes of the season, he barely knows Cordy and Wes. As of the end of this episode, Wesley is the only one he still hasn’t had much contact with. And while members of Angel’s crew are getting closer to each other, he’s getting farther away from them thanks to Darla’s machinations. This is the beginning of a trajectory that will continue for a good portion of the season.
How much control does Angel have over what’s happening to him? Is he not telling Wes and Cordy about his Darla dreams because he doesn’t want to, or is he not telling them because he can’t, because Darla is controlling him? That’s not clear yet. Either way, these dreams are seriously messing with his ability to do his job, and they’re already negatively impacting his relationships with the people around him.
Cordelia has for the most part remained behind the battle lines. Angel, Wesley, and now Gunn typically handle all of the fighting, and she just points them in the right direction with her visions. This is, I think, the first time that she’s geared up and headed out by herself to deal with a vision. She’s grown much braver since “Becoming,” when she fled town after vampires attacked her and the Scoobies in the library.
Wesley is close enough friends with Angel now that he feels perfectly comfortable with forcing Angel to wear a pink helmet. That’s awesome. I’m pretty sure he would’ve been too intimidated by him to do that last season. Also, he seems to be the one who’s paying the closest attention to what’s wrong with Angel. Admittedly, Cordelia and Gunn were both preoccupied with other pressing business, but I’m interested to see if that becomes a pattern.
Beneath the easy-going exterior we’ve seen a lot in the past few episodes, Gunn is still struggling with the loss of his sister. It makes him a much better character. Alonna could have been this show’s Jesse McNally—someone introduced as being very important to a major character, only to be entirely forgotten after getting vamped and dusted. Instead, we have a whole episode primarily dedicated to Gunn’s emotional turmoil after her death. The lighthearted Gunn we’ve seen before this was just the mask he was wearing to hide how badly he was hurting. Without Cordelia’s intervention, he would definitely have gotten himself killed. So will we get a light-hearted Gunn again next time, or will he be a little more serious now that he’s dealt with his inner demons?
“I am so sick of dust.”
“I can’t lift my arm all the way.”
“This vamp did a number on my ribs.”
“Afraid I threw my back out again.”
“Why do I have to wear the lady’s helmet?”
“Stop being such a wanker and put it on!”
The Watcher's Diary
In this blog, I'll be reviewing, analyzing, and generally fangirling over excellent television. Exhibit A: the Whedonverse.